My Covid-19 Story and Shift Into Long Covid
I never thought I would be writing a page about recovering from a long term illness. I naively never thought I would ever have a long term illness if you even find 14 months long term.
But here I am because let’s face it, we never really know what’s around the corner.
So to give you a bit of my back story I am 38 years old healthy food chef that lives in England. I was in Africa when I caught covid-19 in March 2020. I viewed myself as a healthy person low sugar diet full of fruit, veg, and I enjoy exercise.
But as I have learned, this strange long version of covid-19 can bring down anyone from young, old, and middle-aged. Male, female, some with mild to severe symptoms to even asymptotic cases.
No one knows why they have been chosen for this never-ending battle but chosen they have been. Somewhere between realising you had covid-19 feeling like you are almost out of the woods to the months that are about to stretch out in front of you when you realise something is very wrong!
My Covid-19 case was pretty classic I think. Based on the first three symptoms that showed up on the CDC website. I started with a dry cough. Yep, it felt like the tickle of a tiny feather or an itchy throat. Then came the fever, shortness of breath, wild headaches, loss of appetite, and exhaustion.
But still, I wasn’t exactly convinced but as the days of illness unfolded I could tell this wasn’t your garden variety cold/flu. In the next seven days dizziness, confusion, head pain, strange tongue bumps, and extreme weakness. Not to mention, this very bizarre crackling and almost bubbling in my lungs when I breathed which was very uncomfortable and scary.
They gave me amoxicillin, vitamin C, and pain killers. Day 8 I started to turn a corner or so I thought. Then, I had a day or so where breathing felt extra strained.
I remember forcing myself to cough to try and make space in my lungs so I could breathe. In the next few days, thankfully everything started to lift. That was it, I thought I had beaten it! Yay Me!
I remember possibly after about 2 1/2 weeks that I felt a switch. It seemed my body had finished with covid-19 and slid into this heavyweight of fatigue and inflammation. As I would learn inflammation seemed to move around my body for months making new symptoms. It seemed to go from my lungs to my chest with a worrying pain that rested just on my heart and moved down my arm.
Yes, I considered something scary was happening to my heart. A clot? Fluid? Air? A heart attack? I wasn’t sure but after a week or two of pain, I wasn’t waiting around to find out.
I went to the hospital for the first time and had an ECG, a CT scan, and some heart protein test. Embarrassingly all these tests were normal showing absolutely nothing. And although my doctor was kind he didn’t think Covid-19 was even possible as I hadn’t been travelling. So he suggested it was probably just stress, wonderful!
Not long after that, the pain moved into my head. And headaches don’t do these pains justice, I would say it was more like my brain was on fire. A festival of swelling and inflammation. Maybe my brain was having a bonfire night and all his friends were invited to toast marshmallows! My brain felt like it wanted to push out of my skull and take my neck with it. I wanted the chest pain back!
As the months moved on I had many almost recoveries. My energy would return and my hope of finally being free of this. But it was not to be, I would do a bit too much then a crash would follow.
“You just need to rest” I kept hearing but rest seemed to do nothing and made zero difference.
Around the 5th month, I found a Facebook group full of people just like me. Then I heard of a few friends who were in the same boat. Then a few articles about people from the SARS outbreak were circulating. Stories about their illness and lack of recovery. Some took months to years to recover from SARS in the early 2000s. Some said it was Chronic Fatigue/M.E which I did not realise can start with a virus.
This is where things can get scary because you realise your body is stuck and you need to help him get unstuck but I had no idea how. So I started with supplements and more supplements, sleep, green smoothies, light exercise and sunshine. I saw a few glimmers of hope but nothing amazing.
So that’s when I had decided there was no way this was going to be my life! I had to do whatever it took to pull myself out of this hell!
Whatever it took!
The 7 Steps I Took To Recover from Long Covid
Cutting out caffeine, alcohol, sugar
Espresso, gin and tonics, and dark chocolate pretty much have to be my favourite joys in life. Little moments of bliss in my day, but I knew they had to go!
The caffeine made my head throb, alcohol made me dizzy and caused me to crash the following day. And sugar, I know it was another poison or toxin my body had to deal with on top of everything else.
Juicing/ Intermittent Fasting
As I mentioned before I thought an occasional green smoothie might boost me, and of course it does but I did not realise the power of juicing combined with not eating.
If you want to know the difference between a juice and a smoothie click here.
So not eating sounds scary but it is only not eating after dinner and having a late breakfast. That type of intermittent fasting is known as the 16:8.
Sixteen hours of fasting followed by 8 hours of normal eating 2-3 meals. For me, this was 11 am-7 pm.
As I have learned not eating is important because this allows your body to use all its valuable energy to help heal your body. Instead of your body digesting food constantly, this fasting break gives the body this time to remove extra toxins and rejuvenate itself.
So now simply add juice! Juicing is removing the fibre from the veg so we can get all the benefits/nutrients from the food in a concentrated juice.
I juice mostly veggies like cucumber, celery, carrots, greens, and 10% fruit like apple, grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime. I have this during my fast to give my body a boatload of live food enzymes, nutrients, and vitamins in a whole food form. Also throughout my recovery I did a few stretches of time where I did the juice fasting for a few days in a row. These juice fasting bursts really pushed my recovery forward. If you want to know more about these please reach out to me and I can explain.
Juice Recipe 1 cucumber 3 stalks celery 3 carrots 1 handful kale 1 whole lemon 1 whole apple chunk of ginger
This was a delicate one. When I say exercise I am saying gentle exercise. Like a minute or two on my spin bike, Or light stretching, or a short walk. A little bit too much and my heart felt like it would beat out of my chest and a crash would follow.
I learned this the hard way but I also knew laying there doing nothing wasn’t going to help my immune system. The toxins would be building up making my body fuller and fuller of inflammation fully stagnant. We need to do some movement to keep our lymphatic system draining and working.
So I started keeping track with a close eye on how I felt before, during, and after exercise. Then increased it ever so slowly week by week.
Suddenly looking back I was making progress. But I had to rest before and after so as not to overdo it even if I felt good.
I am sure we all have heard this from our doctor. Their remedies to post-viral fatigue are to pace yourself and rest. Thanks, that’s so helpful! Not really!
But as I have learned this step is vital! If you start to see glimmers of hope with energy and recovery, DO NOT PUSH TOO MUCH! You want to exercise, cook dinner, clean, shower, have a phone call? Great just not all on the same day! But this all depends on how sick you are.
Because if you do too much, you will never build up a reserve of energy to heal and recover. It will be a cycle of rest, regain, crash, repeat! An awful cycle that won’t result in a full recovery. So every day you must save a bit of energy, keep a bit so you are always in the black energy-wise, not the red.
Making a routine is so helpful also. A recovery routine.
This is what mine looked like when I was at my worst:
Mine was sleep as long as I could in the morning, wake up lemon water, juice, light exercise, rest, maybe sleep, small walk, chat to friends, read or tv, cook dinner if I could, rest, sleep. My husband was a huge help with this doing all the things I couldn’t do laundry, work, sometimes cook and juice maker.
If you have a family or more responsibilities you can still pace and recover with a manageable routine.
You may be wondering why I would even bother to include this?
And I would agree with you. However, not getting enough water each day is slowing down your bodies ability to remove toxins and heal!
And to be honest I noticed this! Every day I didn’t drink enough I could feel it! I was extra tired and my brain felt full and I felt overwhelmed.
So every day I am constantly reminding myself to DRINK!
Now it’s true what you are drinking is important. I would drink pots of different herbal teas, cold water with lemon and lime, decaf coffee, carbonated water with kombucha, smoothies, and homemade veggie juices with a small amount of fruit included.
Stay away from caffeine, sugary drinks, drinks with artificial sugar, and alcohol. But I promise it’s worth it!
I am sure all of us are aware that having a healthy digestive system is important.
But for healing, it’s even more important!
70% of our immune system is in our gut!!! Staggering!!!
So if things in our gut aren’t running smoothly it could be halting our recovery!
We need to give this major system a helping hand, but how?
There are a few ways, food-based probiotics are the most effective as it’s alive and our body knows exactly what to do with it. What are examples of food-based probiotics? Kefir, kombucha, homemade sauerkraut, kimchi, and any other fermented veg. I make my own and mostly use kefir grains that I ferment in milk and drink every day, takes me minutes to do and so cheap!
If you can’t be bothered with food probiotics then you can take a supplement.
Choosing a good one is so important cause some of the bacteria doesn’t always manage to get through our whole digestive tract.
Essential oils /Supplements
I think this was the biggest piece of the puzzle for regaining my health.
I did all the things above which helped but, I wanted to see progress quicker! It wasn’t until I started using essential oils *internally to help my body remove the inflammation and helped my immune system wake up again and keep fighting that I saw a faster recovery.
What I have learned about this virus and what happened to me is that covid sets up camp in the body.
As I have learned viruses get inside our cells and duplicate and use the cell as the perfect incubator.
They multiply and our body can’t fight anymore. Our immune system either gives up or gets stuck in overdrive.
Resulting in an inflammation party that everyone is invited to! And that is exactly what it feels like pain and heat in many parts of the body, head, chest, neck, spine, legs, and feet. Also tinnitus, horrendous fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, and confusion.
So what can you do? Well, I’ve read many take steroids, anti-inflammatories, or pain killers. Yikes, that’s all we can do?
As I have learned there is so many power plants in nature that can help our body to heal. And to be honest I wish I had learned about them years ago!
The essential oils I found are so potent so they are strong enough to get into our cells if we take them *internally to where the covid virus is. Essential oils are lipid so they get into the cells and affect our bodies on a cellular level! Powerful stuff!
*Note most brands are not safe enough to take internally
I took several oils that matched my exact symptoms as well as a supplement pack of whole food supplements combined with essential oils so our bodies can absorb the nutrients properly.
With the essential oils, I was able to support and rebuild my digestion, immune system, lymphatic drainage-my bodies ability to remove toxins and the leftover viruses.
Not to mention supporting my liver, mental health, hormones, and stress levels so I could activate my parasympathetic nervous system so it could rest and heal.
If you want proof from studies on how essential oils can help with Covid-19 and Inflammation please read this article.
If you would like a basic overview of the safety of taking essential oils internally please read this article.
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