Angela Veiga, 46, from California

first had symptoms on July 3rd. I went to bed with body aches and woke up at 4 am throwing up. That lasted only 4 hours, but the next two weeks would be much worse. Unrelenting diarrhea, loss of taste and smell, shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, racing heart, and the thought in the back of your mind every time I would try to go to sleep, “Will I wake up?”. I wrote letters to my children in case I didn’t.

The only way I could lay down and breath was to lay on my stomach.

My wonderful husband stepped up and fed me and took care of the kids. I called my spare room where I isolated Covid Jail. It felt like a prison I was stuck in and wasn’t allowed out. I rarely saw my family, and if I did it was from afar, outside, and I had a mask on.

After the initial acute phase I had about a week where I felt really good and was able to walk and exercise. About 4 weeks in I was struck with overwhelming chest pain and tachycardia.

Calls to my doctor were futile. I begged for a referral to a specialist. I was denied. I begged for anything to help. What I was told was that this is “a virus that needs to run its course”, and “you are better off than patients that are in the hospital that won’t make it home”. He kept telling me to use my inhaler and prescribed me cough medication. I stressed over and over I didn’t have a breathing issue anymore, it was my heart and lymph nodes.

I finally was able to have basic labs ordered and a chest x-ray, which were normal. I began searching for answers and found support at the Long Covid Support Group. There were so many of us going through this. I was no longer alone. And I had a name for what it was… Long Covid.

Reading other stories made me realize I needed a new doctor. I requested to be seen by a new physician and was told he would happily see me. In person. YAY. All I had before was telehealth visits or phone calls.

The tachycardia and pounding in my chest were horrendous. I did as little as possible around the house to keep my heart from racing. It was spiking up to the 180’s at times. Hanging out around 120-130 beats per minute.

During this time some people asked if it was anxiety causing my symptoms. I couldn’t believe it. I had read so many stories in the support group of people getting an anxiety diagnosis in the ER or at a physicians office when clearly there is something physiological going on. Or family telling them “it’s all in your head”. Healthy, active, happy people were not getting the attention or respect they deserve.

I really began to feel the weight of what was happening to me and fear it would never end.

The day I finally saw my new doctor came. He had me describe my initial Covid symptoms. I started off by saying it was a mild case and proceeded to explain. He listened patiently and commented that in fact I had a very severe case of the disease. Just because I did not have pneumonia or wasn’t admitted to the hospital does not mean that what I went through was mild.

I felt validated. He listened to my symptoms and started me on a betablocker for the tachycardia and wanted to follow up in two weeks. The medication worked well in reducing the tachycardia and pounding but I was still having chest pain and burning in my left chest wall area.

My new doctor truly believes me and what I am going through. He scheduled me for an echocardiogram and a stress test. As a Cardiac Rehab Nurse, I am happy to have my symptoms taken seriously and that he is taking the time to listen to me. But at the same time, I am scared of the results and what it could mean for me in the future.

Will I ever be at the same level of activity I was before? I was super active and did high intensity workouts several times a week. Will this affect me permanently? Am I going to be ok?

The results of my stress test and echocardiogram came back good and I got the all clear to return to exercise. The doctor wants me to continue on Metoprolol as Long Covid is such an unknown and I am tolerating it well. He feels that since it is a heart protective medication, he wants me on it until at least the first of the year.

I also have finally received the news that my department at the hospital is going to reopen. We have been closed since the lockdown in March. So, armed with all of this good news, I exercised twice last week and worked 8 hours only to wake up on Saturday with a lovely relapse of pain and swelling in my chest wall.

I do have to say… since my results of the cardiac testing looked good, I am less stressed about the relapse symptoms as they are probably related more to an overactive immune response. But that’s the thing… I still don’t have a definitive answer on what exactly is happening to me. It’s just Covid.

The relapse wasn’t as bad as previous ones and I hope that they just keep getting farther apart and less painful. As time moves along so do us Long Haulers … waiting for answers and grabbing at anything that might help.

I appreciate everyone I have met along the way that is suffering with this horrible, lingering beast. You all keep me strong.

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