The cough has come back, without warning and seemingly for no reason; so has the fatigue. True, neither are as debilitating as when I had the actual virus, but they are back.
Like many others, I am now coming to recognize that I am living and suffering from the long tail of Covid-19.
I got infected back in mid-April. The onset of symptoms came quickly. I suddenly noticed I was feeling very tired and I had a new cough. I got tested and the morning after I received a phone call from the infirmary, I had tested positive for coronavirus.
The virus is similar to a tornado. When it lands, it swirls through the body, causing chaos, confusion, coughs, wreaking damage to each organ it touches. Some will not survive its visit. For those that do, when it has gone, one surveys the damage to the human landscape and realizes it’s much higher than first thought. My symptoms were on the milder side: I never had breathing difficulties, or loss of sense or smell. I was wiped-out tired and I always had “the cough,” which has now returned.
The Covid cough is not like your usual cough-it-up deep cough (what doctors politely call a “productive cough.”) It is very distinctive. It is really a dry, raspy, wheezy, cough. In my case, lots of short, expelling gasps of air, followed by an extended, deep, chest-wrenching expiration cough, that has standers by wondering if I am going to keel over.
I have tested negative for herpes and positive for the antibodies, and my physician says it will not return. But there are days when I feel that it has.
I am also discovering new areas of damage: I have become incredibly clumsy. I was never the most lissome person, nobody ever called me graceful, but my clumsiness is off the chart. If I grab a glass, or just take something out of a cupboard, I will knock it, or drop it on the floor. I have tripped over the curb and gone flying. I fall over furniture. It is as if that part of my brain, which subconsciously adjusts hand and movement to obstacles it sees, isn’t working.
At times there’s a sense of mild confusion. The micro delay in a thought, the hesitation with a word. Nobody would notice but me.
My digestive tract is peculiar, to say minimal.
It doesn’t matter whether I call them symptoms, faculties, or wreckage — my own body doesn’t feel quite right.
The doctors attempt to reassure me, saying, this may wear off, but they can not tell me when. Last week was bad. The cough has been with me for days, I have been tired and needed seriously to take naps. I tripped over the camera tripod then fell over a chair! I am concerned however, not panicked, yet. This week already feels much better.
For those individuals who have not had Covid, or witnessed the mess it leaves behind, again, I urge you, do whatever you can to avoid this tornado.
It will roar through the body — kill some on the way — injure all in its path — and then once you think “well, thank God that’s gone,” look around, the damage is strewn every-where and will be with you long after the crisis has passed.
Covid is a tornado with a really long tail.
Richard Quest is a Business editor-at-large, CNN