Updated: Jul 13



TAANYA'S COVID-19 STORY: (Written by Taanya Sarma and edited and published by Carolyn Andrews: True Stories of COVID-19

Just a month before my first symptom, I was at a mass blood drive in March 2020, and I'm confident that this is where I contracted the novel Coronavirus.

April 27th, 2020 IS WHAT I CALL, DAY ZERO - Feeling enervated over the last thirty-six hours: my mind adduced it as odd working hours, and the sun was brighter than usual in April. Later that night, I gulped Gatorade and had pizza.

April 28th, 2020 DAY 1 - My throat was hurting, and I saw white patches on my tonsils, cheeks, and gums. I rinsed and gargled a couple of times with Listerine. I felt chills down the spine, goosebumps, and towards mid-afternoon drove to the nearest Urgent Care.

Me at the urgent care - "I think I have a sore throat."

The doctor informed me that if the symptoms worsened, Influenza and Coronavirus testing was available at the urgent care. She prescribed me Amoxicillin and sent me home with a handful of Tylenol samples.

DAY 2 - It started as well-spaced periodic goosebumps, chills down the spine, shivering, tense muscles, rattling and grinding teeth. As the fever spiked through the roof, the muscles eventually gave in, and the jaw clenched tight, breathing heavily from the nose. No matter how hard I stanch to live, the lungs were empty, devoid of sufficient fresh air. The struggle was real! The Tylenol, a wonder in reducing the fever, drenched me in sweat. The temperature stayed around the clock without a break. After a few attempts at survival, my frail mind and body had a limpid last wish.

Day 3 - I had a new symptom that made me realize I had to see the doctor - BREATHLESSNESS. I was huffing and puffing on my way to the restroom. The appetite for solid food was null and I had an unusual affinity to fluids. It was pouring that day, my face and neck swelled, each muscle in pain gasped frantically for air. I drove to the urgent care (a block away). The healthcare professionals demanded me to stay inside the car at the parking lot. Amid the thunderstorm, they paraded in and out of the facility, took vitals, samples for COVID and Influenza. The doctor had me prescribed Azithromycin, inhaler, other medications along with mandatory 14-day quarantine. Fever 104 F.

Fast forward to: Day 5 - Early hours, I was going in and out of consciousness. I was soaking in sweat through my tee and a considerably sizeable wet body patch on my sheets. Around 10 AM, I woke up to the sound of texts on the phone. I tumbled out of bed, bumped into the wall, and landed on my knees, unable to stand straight and walk. I dialed my urgent care and the PCP explained to me the urgency to go to the hospital. Due to the fact I was running 104-100 F fever round the clock for five days. My body was dehydrated because of the alternating chills, fever, and sweating.

911 - What's your emergency? Me - I have COVID Symptoms, and I am very dizzy.

Day 6 - Trip to Duke ER was life-saving- a day later, the dehydrated body with depleted essentials was able to walk around in search of fluids and water.

Jump to Day 15 - Late evening, I sensed heartburn, followed by bloating and a series of alternating nausea and foul diarrhea. The passive brain was unable to resolve the onset of a new symptom. Again I dialed my parents screaming in pain, rolling on the restroom floor with arms wrapped around my stomach.

Day 16 - Continued cough, breathlessness, and distressed GI tract. The loss of fluid and other body essentials was leading to weakness and loss of weight. I forced myself once a day to take semisolid food.

Day 18 - I drove back to the urgent care in hopes of a better solution for my sufferings. The doctor advised to stop all medication, take prednisone over the weekend, and schedule an X-ray on the third day.

Day 19 & 20 - Instead of being on the mend, the symptoms got worse and worse and worse.

Day 21 - As soon as I got into my senses in the morning, I parked my car outside the urgent care with worsened symptoms. The doctor kept me waiting in the car for an hour. She said - you must go to the ER for further tests.

At Duke Emergency and diagnostic, the doctors did numerous tests to rule out blood clots, pneumonia, and pericarditis. Much thanks to the Uber driver who drove me home late at night and wished me well. The healthcare professional at Duke ER suggested continuing with the first set of medications.

Day 22 - Out of desperation, I went back to the urgent care and demanded better treatment. I was at the edge, with no specific therapy, no definite answers to my questions, worsened health, days into quarantine, dependency for food and fluids. I felt like a person with a ticking time bomb around my neck. No one wanted to get near me or touch me for a thorough check-up.

The urgent care doctor ordered further tests. The nurse walked in and looked at my arms. She looked at me with empathetic eyes peeping into my soul - What should I do? All veins punctured due to repetitive blood work and IV fluids. I was howling like a child who lost a Christmas present. The posed concern shattered my confidence to fight this disease.

Day 23 and 24 - New treatment regime - hydrocodone-atropine, budesonide-formoterol, and Tylenol. A magic potion right out of the Harry Potter books. Nothing less. The side effects were unimaginable with frequent passing out spells. I had to choose between the worst and bad. The viral disease was worst, and succumbing to side effects was terrible.

To the best of my knowledge, I am self-motivated to carry on with my job and focus on providing myself the basics. Using the blue albuterol inhaler almost every week in the last couple of months to do weekly grocery shopping, get to work, cook my meal, and ACT NORMAL - COUGH LESS - CRY EVEN LESS. I was persuading myself to take a walk in the neighborhood at least once a month.

From July until November, I hoped that my lungs and body would heal with good food, nutrition, supplements, light exercise, short walks, and medications.

In November, I was second-guessing the improvement and asked family and colleagues about the evident changes.

To a point in December where I was using the inhaler every other day and still felt chest pain, exhausted, tired, weak muscle, joint pain. I was in "DENIAL" that I am not getting ANY better! I stopped reading the news, numbers, latest updates regarding COVID.

Around Christmas, I had a tough conversation with my family and asked for something that I never thought I would ever have to ask for: support. In January, I quit my job and decided to work on my health.

In February, my symptoms worsened. Four visits to the urgent care, one visit to the ER, and back to Duke Hospital. It's March already, and I am still waiting to hear a concrete diagnosis, explanation, and treatment. The latest CT scan on March 3rd, 2021, shows ground-glass opacities favored to represent atelectasis.

"While results are usually available in a matter of minutes, the false-negative rate for antigen tests is high — possibly as high as 50% — which means you could still be positive even though the rapid test came back negative." - Source AAMC.

TODAY: March 27th, 2021 Day 334!!

I am in bed almost day and night—minimal activity. Any activity aggravates unbearable chest tightness, breathlessness, pain, palpitation, and cough.

In excruciating pain in both my legs and feet at night due to fatigue. I have no appetite for solids.

Questionable mental strength - ongoing sessions with a psychologist. I believe I don't want to associate myself with terms - confusion, brain fog, etc. Maybe I am still in denial of specific symptoms.

As with many other Long-Haulers, I am dealing with horrible after-effects that make it hard for me to live a normal life: At this point, I'm so sick, that I'm not even worrying about the hair loss. The stress this virus causes can be unbearable: screaming at night in pain, muscle and joint aches during the day, I can't talk and breath simultaneously, can't eat and breathe at the same time, I can't talk my heart out as I am out of air too soon, day and night I am talking to myself and others about my symptoms, the symptoms have consumed my time with friends and family as well as my social media interaction.

I have been alone in bed for 40 days straight from April 28th to June 5th, 2020. In and out of urgent care 10 times and Duke Hospital twice.

I have had 40 full days of COVID-19 symptoms and 300+ days of being an official COVID-19 Long-Hauler.

I can't think beyond COVID as of now! I lock myself in a room for shallow cries and to scream through a pillow. I can't cry my heart out; it consumes my lungs. I am crying in the shower as I can breathe better in there. I DO NOT WISH THIS NEW NORMAL ON ANYONE...