Personal Website for TED HENRY

My Experience With Long Covid

covid virus

The thing about Long Covid is that those who live alone become invisible to their friends. They just disappear. They are busy sleeping their life away with little energy to do much of anything. Obviously it’s not the only thing but it does set a tone.

Here’s a rough timeline. I came down with Covid in March exactly 6 months** after my last booster vaccination. I wasn’t as ill as the first time 2 years prior but it just never got better. The coughing never stopped. It went on for 5 weeks. I lost 10 pounds. I had to sleep propped up to control the coughing. Somewhere along the line I was treated for pneumonia which transitioned into bronchitis. I was a wreck. I found out I have white blood cell count below the normma range. So did Covid cause this or did lowered immune ability cause me to catch Covid? No one has tried to answer that question. I began to get better, but very slowly. At first the most minor exertion put me right back on the couch. By exertion I mean being vertical and walking around the house. I would get up in the morning and get busy feeling pretty good and suddenly realize I needed to lay down immediately. It was like a switch had been flipped increasing gravity 50x. Grocery shopping was an ordeal. After many weeks I got to a point where I could ride my recumbent trike 15 miles at my normal pace knowing I would be flattened the next day or more. With all that down time I read a large stack of books. House improvement and art projects came to a screeching halt. Weeds grew and the house got dusty.

After a few months I had improved to where I could show up for a group bike ride, providing it was not too late in the day, and appear fairly normal to everyone. However as soon I got home I would immediately sleep for a really long time. One ride I remember was longer than what I should have been doing. I got home kind of late, around 4 pm, had a snack and decided to rest on the couch for a bit with the tv on. I woke up 16 hours later at 8 am the next day. I had breakfast, took a shower, and went back to bed for the bulk of the day. That is a lot of down time.

Prior to that ride I had decided that driving does not take much energy, so I would make a quick day trip to Portland. This was a very bad idea. On the way home somewhere south of Olympia I fell asleep at the wheel and ran off into the median. The terror of that kept me awake for the remainder of the drive but with significant effort. I realized I was then effectively tethered to the area around my house. Morning outings eventually became OK, but I had to be home for my 4 hour afternoon nap. Forget about trips to Seattle or Olympia. No matter how easy my mornings were, I was wiped out or close to it by lunchtime.

Along with crushing fatigue is incredible muscle soreness beginning around 24 hours after exercise. Having been a soccer player and downhill skier I know what soreness can result from over exertion. This PEM related stuff is beyond any of that. One day I did a little weed eating and the following day my left arm was so sore it was useless for three days. For quite a while every time I rode my trike my quads would get extremely sore in a similar fashion. There is recent literature suggesting that the virus damages mitochondria (the cellular structures in your cells that generate chemical energy allowing muscle movement among other things) causing them to respire anaerobically which in turn results in the creation of lactic acid, the cause of muscle soreness. It has been further suggested that Coenzyme Q10 can somehow alleviate this issue for sufferers of Long Covid. I gave it a solid try without improvement.

The only thing that helped was the supplement SAMe. If not for that I could not have made the trip. With all the well publicized problems with unregulated supplements as well as some very significant side effects, I stopped using it sometime after I got home. The side effects quickly disappeared and PEM resumed, but at a much lower level. Am I getting better naturally or did SAMe jump me forward? Curiously I took another jump forward just after getting a recent Covid booster. Correlation is not causation, but I sure didn't get worse. In any case, I'm getting more things done (like this website) and sleeping less. Muscle soreness is mostly a thing of the past.

**=CDC has reported that for seniors the vaccinations lose most of their effectiveness after 6 months. Now I am getting a booster every six months.

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