Update #5 – Three months at home

AT HOME FOR THREE MONTHS – May 27 to August 27.

THANK YOU. “Thank you” to the many who prayed for me. It was not until March 9 – a little more than a week after I regained consciousness – that I realized how many people had been praying for me. By the end of March, I began to realize how close to death I had passed. Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers. I treasure them. I keep getting stronger each day and feel my endurance increasing as I venture out to do errands and accomplish tasks.

When a prayer request seems to be hopeless, that is the time that you should pray. When a situation seems like it cannot get any worse, that is the time to turn to God.  “These three things abide: faith, hope, and love.” Our God steps in when there is no hope, and He provides it. Who else is going to provide it? Politicians? Friends? Strangers? Anything that is outside the realm of human assistance requires divine intervention. God hears prayer. God answers prayer. And those answers provide hope that He will do it again in the future. Need proof? The author of this blog testifies to the statements above. I was as close to death as anyone can come (Mary will tell you this), and God reversed whatever was killing me. He simply said, “Not today,” and I began a slow ascent to where I am right now. I am not completely healed, yet, but I am certainly not dead. Do not hesitate to pray for that which seems hopeless.

MEN’S FRIDAY MORNING. On August 27 – three months after leaving Upland Rehab – I met with my men’s prayer group at Corky’s for an hour. This is the first time I ventured into a place without Mary there for support. All went well. We even engaged the table next to us in a conversation about Covid and the isolation that was imposed on all. God was glorified in that conversation. More to come once everyone’s schedules even out in the fall.

WEIGHT. It looks like my new weight is leveling off at 168 lbs. I continue to eat lots of pasta and lift weights, but it appears that 168 is the new 215 – for me.  I am a shadow of my former self.

PHYSICAL THERAPY. Continuing PT to increase strength and flexibility. I have new exercises, which are stretching muscles I did not know I had. My heart rate has steadied. Resting is between 85-90 bpm, and walking now takes it to about 110-115. More answered prayers. Occupational therapy is completed… probably because I no longer have an occupation.

FLOATERS & FLASHES. A recent development is the presence of cobweb floaters and flashes of light in my right eye. This may be a developing issue with the retina. I have an ophthalmology appointment and will keep you updated. The vision in my left eye is blurrier than it was in 2020, but no floaters or flashing.

FIELD TRIPS & OXYGEN. I accomplished several goals. My body is cooperating with me more often. I no longer use supplemental oxygen during the day. As a result, I’ve felt better about venturing away from home. Lately, I did some shopping for new clothes that fit me, and Mary and I ate at a restaurant – Panera – with outdoor seating and Brandon’s with indoor seating. I’ve been to Starbucks half a dozen times. I’m walking 1.2 miles per day, .6 miles at a time. I plan to attend a Bible study at Hillside in September.

FATIGUE. Some days I get pretty tired; some days I can go all day without a nap. I’m pretty beat by 5 P.M. I sleep between 9-10 hours each night.

FOLLOW UP STUDIES. Covid-19 effects linger, and I have some lingering symptoms. The symptoms of a common cold diminish after 10 days. The effects of the flu subside after 14 days. But not Covid. I found a few studies about the effects of Covid-19 on long-haulers. Most of them had a relatively small sample group – between 50 and 1,000 participants. “Brain fog” is mentioned in most of them. I believe the Lord protected me from the virus invading most of my brain. I still have moments of “Wait! What am I doing?” and “What is that word?” But I experienced that way before Covid. I can still formulate and follow a cogent, logical argument, I still understand sarcasm, and I understand why thousands of people are leaving California.

From a UC Davis study:

“The list of long hauler symptoms is long, wide and inconsistent. The most common long hauler symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Ongoing, sometimes debilitating, fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste and smell — even if this didn’t occur during the height of illness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog

Brain fog is among the most confusing symptoms for long haulers. Patients report being unusually forgetful, confused or unable to concentrate even enough to watch TV. This can happen to people who were in an intensive care unit for a while, but it’s relatively rare. However, it is happening to a variety of patients, including those who weren’t hospitalized. Some people have reported feeling better for days or even weeks then relapsing. For others, it’s a case of just not feeling like themselves.”

A UK study of 275 found this:

“These results accord with reports of long-COVID, where ‘brain fog,’ trouble concentrating, and difficulty finding the correct words are common,” the authors wrote. “Recovery from COVID-19 infection may be associated with particularly pronounced problems in aspects of higher cognitive or ‘executive’ function.”

From a University College London study, one of the larger studies of 3,800 Covid affected persons:

“After 6 months, the most common symptoms included fatigue, malaise after exertion, and cognitive problems, or “brain fog.” A third to a half of respondents reported insomnia and other sleep problems, heart palpitations and rapid heartbeat, muscle aches and joint pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness and vertigo. The most debilitating symptoms were fatigue, breathing problems, and cognitive issues.”

With the exception of headaches and difficulty sleeping, I experience all the above symptoms to some degree. Brain fog regularly shows up when I’m watching Jeopardy. I think I used to be smarter than I am now, but perhaps I’m a little foggy on this point. Fatigue is the most curious effect to me. At times, I wish to be as active as I used to be (example, enjoying homemade ice cream with neighbors), but merely lack the energy to do it.

Considering how many persons the disease has affected, I thought there would be a slough of reputable follow up studies for “long-haulers,” something in which I could participate. Well, I found two. Scripps Medical Center has one using Fitbit and Apple watches, and Johns Hopkins has one where you fill out a seven-part survey. I participated in the Johns Hopkins study, but I did not qualify for the Scripps study. I am part of the Facebook Covid-19 Long-haulers Discussion Group. There are 13,500 members discussing what the illness and the long-term effects have been like. Many, many people have it a lot worse than I do.