COVID symptoms after recovery

As I sit here to write this I am annoyed at the scratching along my stomach and chest. See I have a heart halter attached to me to monitor the irregular heart beating and shortness of breath I've been experiencing for the last few months.

I recently wrote about passing the pandemic in paradise where I talked about being trapped in Nicaragua when COVID arrived and started trashing the Americas. I also wrote about how I had COVID in March of this year.

Well about 3-4 months ago I started feeling very weird palpitations in my chest. It felt like my heart would skip a beat and a "wave" would go down my body and I'd have to take a huge breath to catch up. I don't know how else to explain it but that's what it felt like.

I'd also be dizzy and light headed. Once I sat on the floor because I thought I was going to pass out. Sometimes I have shortness of breath. Like I need to take super deep breaths to feel normal.

Other symptoms I have are numb hands, feet, shins and calves. It's mostly my hands and shins/calves but it's almost a permanent state. Sometimes my left arm feels heavier than my right, if that makes any sense.

The oddest symptom is the smokey metallic smell that lingers in my nose for periods of times. Sometimes it's just a whiff but other times It'll be there for an hour or longer.

I saw two doctors and had two video consultations with my California doctor while in Nicaragua. I had blood drawn (which led to another unlucky event dealing with my right hand but I'll skip that), EKG's, oxygen measurements, blood pressure measurements, etc.

Apparently I'm perfectly healthy. It's so frustrating to know you're feeling weird with scary symptoms and having your doctors say everything is fine. It's anxiety or lack of b-complex vitamins; two things my doctor told me was the cause of my symptoms. Hint: they weren't.

I found an interesting article by the American Heart Association that describes common symptoms for people who have "recovered" from COVID. Some lingering after affects for us lucky ones.

Chung and Fonarow advise those recovering from COVID-19 to watch for the following symptoms – and to consult their physician or a cardiologist if they experience them: increasing or extreme shortness of breath with exertion, chest pain, swelling of the ankles, heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat, not being able to lie flat without shortness of breath, waking up at night short of breath, lightheadedness or dizzy spells.

This paragraph really hit me hard because it basically describes everything I have been feeling (except I don't have swollen ankles).

I printed the article out and took it with me to see my doctor last week. I figured I'd need the backup since he was now trying to say it's a mixture of anxiety, weight gain, and too much meat.

I quickly countered with not feeling anxious, I've gained a whopping one pound, and I've been fully vegan for more than 3 years. For some reason he really didn't want me to do any further investigation. I finally demanded some sort of ultrasound to see if my heart is enlarged.

He got mad, ordered the heart halter and an echocardiogram. I hope that shows something so I at least know there's an issue and hopefully be given a plan for treatment.

So for now I have about 12 hours left wearing this heart halter and my echocardiogram is scheduled for next week. I'll update this post once I know more but I have my fingers crossed that this virus didn't leave me with long term damage.

From Dr. Fonarow himself

As I was writing this post I decided to send a tweet to Dr. Fonarow and ask for some advice on how to deal with the symptoms.

He replied in a direct message. His response was:

Appreciate that this article may have been helpful. Best general recommendation would to be evaluated by your physician. At this stage there are not specific recommendations but some of the strategies used for those with symptoms after other similar viruses may be tried.

I'm very grateful that he replied but pretty bummed there seems to be no current course of action. Maybe this is just my new normal. I hope it doesn't last too much longer.

Update 12/12/2020

Well, I've finally got all my results in last week and had two follow up meetings with 2 different doctors. Apparently I'm healthy as can be. They said they don't know what else to test and can't recommend a treatment because as far as they can tell, there's nothing to treat.

My symptoms continue but are more mild. Some weeks I actually feel 95% normal then some others the symptoms flare up again.

I do notice that some foods seem to trigger the symptoms more. Heavily processed and salty foods (hey, we vegans can have cheat days too) are causes for me. So I'm avoiding those all together now.

I wish I had more of an update. I mean I guess it's good news to be healthy but it's also extremely frustrating because I know my body and know what I'm feeling is not normal. I guess I just have to learn to live with it; at least for the time being.

Update 03/31/2022

I randomly shared this post with someone on Mastadon today and figured I'd give another update as I do have more news.

So unfortunately my symptoms continue. I have a physical scheduled for next week but I already got my blood panels back and the results are very normal. What I can say is that when I am very tired the symptoms are much worse.

Also, if I've been drinking alcohol for 2 days in a row and not getting enough sleep then the symptoms get bad again. I don't drink that often but when I do, it's usually an all night affair. So after 2 days of that, I was very tired and nearly passed out in PriceSmart (aka, Costco). I dropped to a knee in case I fell over I'd not bang my head too bad.

My girlfriend helped me to the food area where I sat in a corner, took my mask off, and caught my breath. Then I went to the truck and waited for her to pay for our stuff and went home. After a good nights sleep I felt OK again.

The weird thing is, I still go to the gym without issue. I still lift more than the average person my age (or hell, half my age) and I push my body really hard. Heavy squats and deadlifts are a weekly occurrence for me. So I don't really know what to make of it. Just try to drink with more moderation (when I drink) and sleep better.

If my physical gives any interesting details I'll update them here but I don't expect anything new. I'm sure my doctor will say I'm perfectly healthy. Pretty annoying.

Update 04/13/2022

I ran into this fantastic article about long haul COVID symptoms that is probably a bit over my pay grade in terms of medical understanding but it describes things in such detail that it's fascinating to read none the less. As silly as it may seem, it's comforting to know I'm not alone in this because yet again, the doctors say I'm perfectly healthy. In fact, my health is "excellent" according to my last physical. Oh and of course, again, the EKG shows my heart is functioning perfectly.

I mean this is all good news except I know something is wrong and it's just hard that nobody can put a finger on it.

Update 03/14/2023

There is now a confirmed link between POTS and long COVID. POTS seems to be exactly the symptoms I've been dealing with for the last two years. I've had some periods of relapse where I go weeks feeling bad with weird heart patterns. Definitely seems triggered by too much caffeine, alcohol, lack of sleep, or sugar.

I probably won't update this article much more unless a major new finding is announced or I'm on my death bed or something from long COVID.