Here’s what 15 Covid patients in Charlotte said it was like
People who’ve contracted and recovered from the coronavirus have had drastically different experiences.
There is no standard coronavirus case. Some people test positive but are asymptomatic, others only have mild symptoms, and some experience severe trouble that requires hospital stays.
In a survey of more than 3,000 Axios Charlotte subscribers, 5.5 percent said they’d had coronavirus, 86 percent said they hadn’t had the virus, and 8 percent weren’t sure.
Some survey respondents shared the details of their Covid-19 experiences. We only used quotes from those whose names we could verify; we’ve shared their initials here. Their responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
Among survey respondents, some had miserable Covid experiences. From taking months to recover, to spending time in the hospital, to experiencing different symptoms each week, these Charlotteans had a tough time.
Developed diabetes: “Worse than the flu. I was so exhausted I wondered if I was going to wake up in the morning, some nights. And I couldn’t sleep. I ended up developing diabetes and almost being hospitalized because my blood sugar was almost over 500. Previous to having Covid my blood sugar was normal and after it wasn’t. So developing diabetes may be a result of having Covid.” — J.H.
Increased risk for blood clots: “I am such a mess from it. My taste and smell left again. I’m exhausted, depressed, and anxious. My whole personality shifted. My memory is shot. Blood clot risk for me has increased.” — K.K.
Long-term side effects: “We spread it to our adult children because we thought family was ‘safe.’ Makes no sense now. Half of us were asymptomatic but my daughter and I were very sick, (did) not get out of bed much for over a week. Absolutely awful, I never want to experience it physically or emotionally again. Five months later still have neurological issues related to Covid-19.” — S.R.
‘Worse than breast cancer’: “22 days of a 103-degree fever in March when there was no testing available to ‘working people.’ My husband was considered essential so even while staying away from everyone and everything, I still caught it and it took me down. The worst illness I’ve had by far and I’ve survived breast cancer, a heart condition, and have Celiac disease. Not a joke! I’d cry each morning I’d wake up to the same temperature regardless of what I tried to remedy it. It was an absolute nightmare.” — L.S.
Varied symptoms: “A tough few days, one set of symptoms for about five days, replaced with another set and another set. It affected nearly every organ for at least two to three days. Still no taste/smell after almost six months.” — C.W.
Many respondents said their Covid experiences weren’t bad. Some went without taste or smell for weeks after recovering; others experienced physiological trauma from worrying about who they might’ve infected.
Same family, different symptoms: “Everyone in my family of four had different symptoms. Only my husband had a classical presentation of fever, chills, and dry cough. Three of us had gastrointestinal issues. I would have sworn I had a mild to medium cold because I was tired, had a slight headache, sore throat, and productive cough. Several days into the virus I lost my sense of smell (the rest of my family did not). We all recovered from symptoms within 2 weeks and had our energy return within 3 weeks.” —J.M.
Long-term energy impacts: “Luckily, it was a very mild case, very low grade fever, fatigue, taste, and smell were affected. Everything smelled like spaghetti for weeks and taste is very generalized, meaning I can tell that something is sweet or salty, but if you blindfolded me and gave me a scoop of Nutella, I couldn’t tell you what I was eating. I was running before I contracted Covid, and now I just walk at a 4 mph pace on the treadmill. I tried to run at even a 5.5 mph pace and I was winded less than a minute into it. I’m learning to listen to my body (for the first time ever).” — J.M.
‘Not bad at all’: “Never had a fever, but I completely lost my sense of smell for a full week. Other than (that) I was a little tired and had about a day of stomach issues. That was it, not bad at all. Other than the constant anxiety/guilt of feeling like I exposed anyone before I knew I had it. When I lost my sense of smell, I immediately began to quarantine but who knows how long it was in my body before that. Also, my husband got tested (who I live with and sleep with lol) and was negative … so weird.” — K.T.
Infected newborn: “Had a dry cough for a couple days (literally coughed a few times a day) and felt like a cold for one day. Thankful it was very mild but sadly I infected my newborn. She ran a fever and had a dry cough for three days.” — E.R.
Infected twice: “Twice. Worse the first time.” — K.M.
Been through worse: “Three days sick. I have had flus much worse. Bronchitis ten times worse.” — Z.B.
Still can’t taste or smell: “… Now three weeks after, I still don’t have taste or smell back. I really wish the media would emphasize how awful the lack of smell and taste is to deal with as a reason why people should follow the guidelines so as not to get the virus FOR THIS REASON ALONE! It sucks! And I frankly feel that it’s dangerous not to be able to smell or taste in addition to the obvious lack of pleasures I used to relish.” —N.S.
Among respondents, 36 said they believe they had Covid sometime from December to February before there were many known cases in the U.S. Others believed they had the virus from March to May before tests were easily accessible, and some tested negative despite experiencing symptoms or being around others with positive cases.
Strep-like symptoms in January: “I may have had it back in January when a co-worker returned from a trip to Italy. We all got quite sick. Started with intense sore throat (like strep) out of nowhere, then I could feel it moving down into my lungs (I have asthma so I’m very clued into changes with my lungs). I immediately started taking my rescue and preventative inhaler as prescribed, and went to my doctor’s office to get on steroids. I had a fever for a couple of days, and then had a lingering cough for about a week. Then was fine. I can’t say for sure I had it, but I feel confident I did.” — J.G.
Sick in January: “We had something in late January that was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced: terrible sore throat, very hard to breathe, felt like pneumonia, body buzz, fever, etc. We weren’t able to go in and get checked, we were prescribed antibiotics for strep without any testing.” — J.S.
Partner tests positive: “My fiance tested positive, I tested negative a couple days later, but we both had the exact same symptoms. Just fatigue beyond belief for a few days.” — H.S.
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