TOUCHED BY LYME: Self-isolation, “COVID toes” and projectile vomiting
We all know that Lyme and other tick-borne diseases can affect different people in very different ways. Now, we’re learning that symptoms of COVID-19 can vary widely as well.
And then what happens if a person with Lyme disease gets COVID-19 on top of it? The answer that emerges is a big fat: THAT DEPENDS.
My friend and colleague Carolyn Degnan has a history of Lyme disease and remains immunocompromised. Unfortunately, despite taking many precautions, she found out firsthand the many weird ways that COVID-19 can manifest, too.
Carolyn shares the following comments, in hopes they may be helpful to others. ~DKL
What I learned from having COVID-19
by Carolyn Degnan
- I took every precaution. Both my daughter and I were immunocompromised before the virus, and so we have sheltered in place since even before California Governor Gavin Newsom issued his statewide order on March 18. Starting in early March, we wore masks and gloves if we were out in public, took off our shoes and wiped them down when we returned home, wiped down groceries with disinfectant, and let our mail and packages sit for 24+ hours—et al.
- How did I get it? Who knows, but scientists have said that the virus can hang in the air for three hours after someone has coughed. I might have walked through the mist during my weekly trip to the grocery store during Senior Hour. If it were on my hair, I could have wiped my hands through my hair and then touched my face. (Note: Dr Joseph Fair, a virologist and NBC commentator, was hospitalized with COVID-19. He had traveled on a plane two weeks before and became ill three days after that. He thinks he was exposed via his eyes while on the plane. He wore a mask and gloves but did not cover his eyes. UGH!)
- My symptoms have been atypical.
- No fever or cough, so I did not qualify for the deep nasal test (PCR).
My normal body temp is 96.8
- First symptom was projectile vomiting, with no warning.
- Second symptom– the same day–I got the lovely “COVID Toes” (see photo at top of this article).
- Didn’t feel sick for almost five days after the initial symptoms.
- Then came the constant nausea, muscle pains and being “bone” tired–sleeping all day.
- Vivid dreams. Whoa! Crazy stuff.
- Day 10–internal coldness and unbelievable chills. Still no fever or cough, but beginning of extreme joint pain in my weight-bearing joints
- Day 14–still bone tired, but toes are resolving as well as the nausea.
- Day 15–feeling like I have a fist in lower back ribs. Starting doing breathing exercises and setting the alarm to make sure I turn over to my stomach every hour.
- My core body temp has been as low as 96.4, so hot showers, layers of blankets and sleeping with a hot water bottle became the norm.
- Day 21–feeling well enough to venture out to doctor’s office for an IV of Vitamin C plus zinc and a glutathione push, which actually helped.
- Day 23–joint pain but I was finally feeling hungry, so we ordered a hamburger from one of our favorite restaurants. About halfway thru the burger–projectile vomiting (again no warning).
- Day 26–another Vitamin C IV with glutathione push.
- Day 27–starting to feel better but toes are still inflamed.
- Day 28–another Vitamin C IV with glutathione push. Starting to feel much better; still very tired
- I took the rapid response test after seven days of feeling ill, and it was negative. My Physician Assistant said that the test has only a 65% accuracy rate. (In contrast, the HIV test has a 99% accuracy rate). So based on my symptoms, they diagnosed me with COVID. (That is called a “clinical diagnosis”) We have since learned that the Abbott Labs test I was given has less than a 50% accuracy rate.
- I was also somewhat of a “poster child” with my COVID Toes. None of the practitioners at my doctor’s office had seen this phenomenon, so everyone one in the practice came into the exam room to see my toes and take pictures.
- Another daughter of mine who has just finished her third year of Naturopathic Medical School sent me list of supplements to take immediately after the shelter in place order. I am sure that taking the vitamins and other supplements helped me have a milder case of COVID.
- She also recommended I get an oximeter to measure my blood oxygen levels. Like toilet paper, oximeters are in short supply, so I downloaded an app on my phone called the Pulse Oximeter app. It is used by athletes to measure their oxygen levels after a workout, but it works for me—so far, my oxygen levels have been hovering between 98 to 100.
- The most important advice I have been given is to stay as active as possible—do NOT spend your day in bed! The virus wants you to lie down so it can take over. If you can only walk in your yard—do so. As it happens, I adopted a rescue puppy on February 29. He keeps me active, since I must get up to take care of him.
This virus is different from anything we have ever seen. Please stay safe and take precautions. I know the shelter in place is hard, but it is necessary!
Side note: It is now day 28 and things are slowly getting better—except my toes are inflamed again. COVID is the gift that keeps on giving!
Carolyn Degnan is Chief Operating Officer of LymeDisease.org.
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s Vice-president and Director of Communications. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.