49 years old, HIV for over twenty years, COPD for at least six

I created this account to relate my experience with the infection because when I found this sub it helped me SO MUCH to have hope and gave me the real picture of what infections were like. When I was first infected I searched the internet for information but only found medical studies which were almost always written about the most grim of cases. Finding this sub gave me tons of comfort and reassurance and I am very grateful for it. I wanted to wait until I had at least about two weeks without symptoms to make this post.

I contracted covid in late September and started out with walking pneumonia. I was tested a couple times but it was too early on and I got negative results and so was presumed positive and sent home with an antibiotic and steroid. I knew I had it because of the circumstances noted latter and my primary physician agreed. One of my infectious disease physicians wanted me to go into the lab for more blood work and take more chest xrays but when I had that video visit with her I was symptomatic and so didn’t go in out of fear of infecting staff and other patients. That first week was terror 24/7. All I could think about was doing everything I could to keep the virus out of my lungs because all I could find online were the studies done on patients who had pneumonia and died, nothing reassuring at all and I did not even know that %80 of people infected only have very mild, to moderate to even asymptomatic experiences.

In the two years prior to all this sickness I had been on an exercise program that took me from being over 350lbs to 280 and began with walking, then interval jogging then mountain biking through the city from ten to twenty miles a night basically as fast as I could pedal so I had lots of good hart and lung focused work before I got sick and I am sure that helped me out allot. I used to smoke tons of weed every day and night and I also smoked cigarettes for over a decade – maybe closer to two- but quit cigarettes around seven years ago. I haven’t smoked any weed since June, maybe early July and have not been a daily smoker for many years now.

For reference I have been in “undetectable” levels of HIV infection for several years now and my COPD has slightly improved over the past two years due to exercise and weight loss but when I was first diagnosed it was pretty sever and included sleep apnea. I also have had hypothyroid disease since I was a little kid and have had anxiety and bipolar issues since I was a teenager.

When I was presumed positive I knew I had it because I had been living an extremely isolated life and I had learned that a man and his wife who I was briefly around five days prior to my first symptoms had been exposed. I make my money at home and did not have a social life at all. I was getting monthly shipments to my home of masks, huge bottles of hand sanitizer to fill small ones I would carry and latex gloves that I wore while shopping at least until right before I got infected and wiping down everything that came thought the door even though it was said the likelihood of infection from touch was low. I even had the eye shields at one point and got laughed at for it. I did all that not to just protect myself but also my elderly mother who lives with me. I let my guard down very briefly and that’s how I got infected. I think what happened was when I was around the couple who had been exposed and latter got sick, the air that would come up into my mask from the bottom got me infected. I was around them for one hour in a fairly enclosed space.

When I learned I had pneumonia in the ER I barely had any fever and a short, dry involuntary cough with no other symptoms so I started walking at least a mile a day and doing the breathing exercise that I will link at the bottom at least three times a day mostly standing up but often while laying down. I was determined to fight as hard as I could and do the walking for a mile, sometimes two in a desperate attempt to keep my lungs from getting worse from the pneumonia and keep from getting the virus into them and that is when I started getting worse, feeling more off. I was also advised to do some walking to keep the pneumonia from getting bad as long as I had no fevers which seemed counterintuitive but did work. I would ask your doctor if that is good for you if you are also going through pneumonia.

One of my early symptoms was a muted sense of smell and mostly only for certain things. I had to put freshly cut grass right up to my face to barely be able to smell it and my cats litter box was something I could not smell at all. There may have been other things I lost sense of smell for but I live so isolated its hard to really know. I never lost my sense of taste. The first couple weeks was a blur of fear and uncertainty and reading the reports of the others in the infection group going into the hospital made everything worse.

I started eating foods high in protein and eating three meals a day. I focused on high protein foods because I had this notion that it would help my immune system because the HIV medication I take is taken with foods, preferable high protein foods so just assumed that was the way to go. My diet was not super healthy, but focused and I ate basically chili from a can, eggs with multigrain bread, beans and rice, also things like mac and cheese because I had read that vitamin D was supposed to help and I wanted comfort foods as well. I actually ended up gaining allot of weight while sick. Oddly, when I would feel feverish, I could eat the chili and then I would start feeing better, it seemed that specific food for me anyway really would help.

All my life I have been a milk addict so vitamin D was not a big concern, I can go through two gallons a week really easily and have been that way my whole life which was a big player in why I am typically overweight. I also started drinking tons of %100 orange juice which I had been drinking about once a day but never several times a day. During the two years of exercise I had a REALLY good diet, very balanced. I never took one single dose of zinc during infection, and have never taken a multivitamin in my whole life even though I am deficient in Iron and have been borderline anemic in a couple times in life. I also spent nearly no time in the sun because I am a night person for the most part. I tried it a couple times, didn’t really sense any change in how I felt.

I started feeling off around early to mid October then started getting the average covid symptoms. Its started out with almost a week of sore throat and periodic diarrhea. The sore throat was sometimes only on one side. The glands in my throat also were swollen. I had small episodes of a runny nose but not much at all of that. No real coughing at all. Periodically the dry cough would come back but would stop after sleep. Around that time I had been having faint episodes of fizzing in my feet and legs but it was so light I thought maybe it was just stress or something until one night it was very loud and all over my body. That night the fizzing was pretty extreme and got me a bit scared. About an hour into it I began having the same sensation I get while in a lucid dream, very very detached from reality. I also had a little nausea that night but it was not very much. The fizzing got lighter and I fell asleep.

As a side note to that, the day previous to that fizzing episode I had drank allot of coffee and had some cookies but I cant honestly say the severity of that fizzing episode was related to the ingestion of those foods, it could have been coincidental but I never drank coffee or had sugar after that and I never again had that level of a fizzing episode nor did it ever again happen all over my body.

Around that time I had a break of maybe a day or two from the sore throat. After that I stared feeling feverish but never got above 99 or so and I took one Tylenol PM which took care of it. My diarrhea persisted and got worse but never watery, just fudgey. Also my cat started getting sick but got better and I cant honestly say she had coivd because there is another possibility.

I also had one morning where I woke up and had a very, very small amount of dried blood in one nostril. That freaked me out but strangely enough it didnt frighten me, maybe by that time I was just drained emotionally or intuitively I knew I would be ok. One night I had some blood in my stool for one bowel movement. The blood in my stool happened closer to the end of the infection maybe in the second week of real symptoms.

I would have short bursts of sore throat, fizzing, some quick minor headaches, feverish feelings and all this would last maybe an hour or two, rarely more then totally vanish. On my third week I felt more feverish more often and had developed sudden shortness of breath and was beginning to worry and think I was going to only then start getting bad but it would always happen in the form of that about two hours after I woke up I would start having symptoms for a couple hours then nothing. The shortness of breath was the most alarming symptom and the diarrhea was the most persistent and it lasted up until the last day of symptoms. The shortness of breath would just come out of nowhere even when I was feeling fine. It felt like a muscle spasm really and while I could breath mostly normally it did cause some slight difficulty and huge amounts of anxiety.

I cant even explain how odd it feels to have your lungs feeling like they are shutting off, feverish, fizzing and then suddenly you are totally fine its SO weird but I was extremely grateful. I did ALLOT of praying. I also started taking one Bayer aspirin about that time because I also developed some rapid heart beating and had read in this sub about blood clotting. I stopped taking the Tylenol because back in July I was told in the ER while there with the bacterial infection that Tylenol PM can thicken the blood and cause cardiovascular problems when taken daily as I was taking them back then and I had read there was a blood clotting aspect to covid so switched to one daily Bayer aspirin.

I would get very optimistic and feel good then my symptoms would return it was a nightmare rollercoaster – every day like that but I eventually realized the pattern and so when I started getting symptoms I could just relax and hope that in a couple hours it would stop. About midway in that third week I had a fever spike for one day of at least 100. I had only needed one aspirin to take down fever but that day it took two Tylenol PM and two Bayer aspirin and I never really felt great that whole day.

I had felt better the day previous to that and so caught up on household chores to the point I broke a sweat. Intuitively I thought I might get sick from doing that and I was right so that day of fever spike I did nothing at all but relax, drink tons of water and orange juice, ate and watched cartoons, played chess online. I assumed that because I had this episode of fever due to physical activity that if I spent the day doing nothing it would reverse and that’s what happened. The next day my fever went back to very low grade which one Bayer aspirin would wipe out and about two days after that point I stopped having fevers.

After that point my other symptoms began getting very faint then stopped more or less in one day. Around that time I started developing faint rashes on each side of my face and also a very minor case of coivd toe on one toe, a tiny bit on another. I eventually realized I was not going to get critical and allot of that reassurance came from reading this sub.

I would come here to the sub and search for specific symptoms I had and read the experiences of others, then I would read their comment history and learn they pulled out of it and that gave me tons of peace. I also learned allot about what to expect and how to help myself like with the breathing exercise and not drinking coffee, being sure to change bedsheets and pillow cases to avoid high viral loading and other things I thought at least at the time was legit information. Overall four infectious disease physicians looked over my case with one being my primary who had over thirty years in as an infectious disease doctor.

I asked him about some things that I read here in the sub about Zinc and the blood clotting. I was told there is no absolute, universal proof that zinc helps at all and was not advised to start it. I was also told the blood clotting was predominately only seen in people who are confined to a hospital bed or people who live sedentary lifestyles or have a predisposition for cardiac problems. I have always been told by these doctors for the twenty years i have had HIV that a daily multivitamin does next to nothing really and the only real way to get vitamins is to eat them in foods. I am not trying to start arguments with that information but those are the facts I was told by the doctors. I will say that there are lots of studies on longhauling going on and some accounts on this sub about blood clotting being a serious issue along with long term lung damages so I do recognize there are anomalies going on and I do think a covid infection can last longer than two weeks in allot more people than we commonly yet recognize. So just because these doctors have different opinions dosent make me completely sure they are %100 correct about things all the time. I write that so not to offend those who are longhauling and have had sudden anomalous blood clotting that became life threatening.

So I never took zinc and never started a multivitamin. I did drink lots of water and orange juice and ate three times a day and I think that along with the breathing exercises, sleeping only on my stomach for a straight month and controlling my emotional states were the most helpful things I did, as far as what a person can even do in this. What I did notice form having so many doctors, including the ER nurses and doctors there is that no one really seemingly understands this at all. One doctor thinks differently than another. I also felt so sad for the nurses in the ER, man they were so emotionally exhausted. They were scared and angry and tired. Those people are heroes every one of them and I have SO much respect and admiration for their valor and humanity.

I got infected in a small group of people who were mostly older than myself. The man, in the couple who had the known exposure had waited the fourteen day quarantine he got sick around day sixteen as best as anyone can estimate. He ended up in the hospital in the first week he was sick and spent about three weeks there and passed away. He was 71 and an extremely good man who gave his whole life to help other people. As far as I know he only had a bad back as a preexisting condition but I don’t know too much about his personal life. I can vouch that he always looked extremely healthy, he owned a business and a horse ranch. His wife had a mild experience but has lingering pulmonary issues. In all, including the man who passed away at least five people ended up being hospitalized. One person I know of received plasma.

Many other people were infected but as far as I know didn’t get very bad and as far as I know everyone wore masks but I think I may have been the only one who wore a mask the whole time so my viral load was probably lower. My elderly mother got pneumonia and had a nearly asymptomatic experience thank God and she was not with the group but only around me. When I got infected we kept away from each other as much as possible, didnt have meals in the same room and I wore a mask if I thought we would be around each other in like the kitchen but I made sure to keep those encounters to less than a minute if possible and I think that may have played a part in how little symptoms she experienced but I dont know.

So a HUGE thank you to the people who created and maintain this sub it sure did give me lots of hope. The only thing that bothers me about this sub is the persistent attempt to advise people medically in the comments. I have seen people write things about the posters’ condition telling them they will end up in a hospital but it never happens or that they need to get ready to get critical help and it never happens. They will tell them to start zinc and all kinds of things but know nothing about the specific biochemistry of the people they are “Advising”. Lots of people pretending knowledge so be careful about what you read because even when it seems they understand things, they usually really don’t because the truth is, no one seems to understand allot about this virus yet. There are all kinds of studies and all kinds of counter studies to them. These posts are honestly the best way to judge what a covid infection is really like.

There are also some posts that seem to be possibly trolling to create fear but those are very few. The doctors seem very optimistic about the coming vaccines and I personally think this is going to all change for the better soon after they start giving them but I am locking down my life even more now that I have been through it. I was extremely blessed by God to have survived and experienced it this mildly. So many good men and women and little kids who have died or are having long term complications. I am so grateful and I hope posting this experience will in a small way return that gratitude.

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