Do I Have Long Covid?
This is a good question that we may never find the answer to. This is a personal story but it also incorporates the stories of thousands of people who have similar stories. While the conspiracy theorists and denial theorists are trying their hardest to twist the Covid story to be unrecognizable, some people–millions actually–are silently suffering with and dying from Covid.
What’s with the chasm between those that don’t believe and those who are sick?
One thing: those that are in denial haven’t yet caught it… I wonder what they will say if they do catch it? It won’t be pretty I can assure you that.
What’s The Story?
Covid harms, even if it doesn’t kill. In fact, I never had Covid. Or so I thought, until I got a phone call from my pulmonary doctor asking: “When did you have Covid?” I was at the steepest part of my daily 3-5-mile hike in the hills and I just about fell on my face! I said “What do you mean? I have not been sick at all!” And then he explained that on my last lung CT scan a week earlier (October 2020), I showed the classic ground-glass-opacity shadow, what is a potential “scar” from Covid.
Ground-glass-opacity is not pneumonia, though most commonly that term is used for simplicity. Ground-glass-opacity is like a bathroom window, which is deliberately made to high opacity to prevent seeing through it. So ground-glass-opacity means it is an area of the lung that has “something” that cannot be seen. This article shows a wonderful image that compares 3 images with ground-glass-opacity lungs with 3 images with pneumonia and 3 images with normal lungs. So you can see the differences. The top 3 are ground-glass-opacity, the middle 3 are pneumonia, and the bottom 3 are healthy normal lungs.
Ground-glass-opacity is a Covid “trademark” of sorts.
How Did I Get This?
I haven’t the clue. It just appeared out of the blue. So you may ask: how come you got a CT scan? You must have had some issues!? A legitimate suggestion. However, it is false. As an asthmatic with a mild emphysema from having been a smoker from age 11 to 28 (yes, I beat myself up over this many MANY times!), I get lung CT scans as routine twice a year, to make sure all is cool and there are no changes. I am a senior by all age calculators, and so high risk on top of that with the stupid smoking in my youth (3 packs a day).
The first CT scan was in February, because at the start of January I was sick with something but back then we didn’t yet know of (or had) Covid. I was put on antibiotics and then a checkup with CT scan in February showed all clear! And I was fine. I weightlifted all through January, I mean serious weights, like deadlift of 160 lbs was my last lift before everything came to a halt because of Covid lockdown. So I wasn’t really sick if I could weightlift all through it…
Then I had a rotator cuff injury that surfaced with vengeance in the summer and I was heading for an MRI of the shoulder in October, when I was told that I had an order in for CT scan of the lungs. This would have been “business as usual” for a person with my history and two CT scans a year as normal. And I was not sick at all between the start of February and October at all. With gyms closed and rotator torn, I moved to daily hiking in the hills, 3-5 miles, having a great time. So clearly not sick at all.
And then my doctor called:
“When did you have Covid?“
and the world came to a stop. Literally.
He sent me for another CT scan in November to test how it was healing, and while he said it was looking better (I have yet to see it), I actually was feeling quite ill at this point. My breathing was quite impacted. At first I thought it was just psychological… if you are told you are sick, you will feel ill, even if you aren’t ill. So I tried to ignore it. But it started to affect me even at my hikes…
Since I have never had the swab test and I haven’t paid much attention to it, I cannot tell you how good/accurate those tests are. However, there are other ways to tell if you have Covid, but you need a cooperating doctor to order the tests, or use a service, such as RequestATest to get it out of pocket. Here are the most important blood tests to get–and I also wrote the marker of Covid when you got the test result:
- high neutrophils
- low lymphocytes
- neutrophils/lymphocytes ratio> 3.3
- high WBC
- high von Willebrand factor (vWF)
- high platelet
- creatinine and BUN,
- high BUN/creatinine ratio
- low potassium
- high bilirubin
- high Alkaline phospathase, AST, ALT (liver panel test)
- high amylase
- high lipase
- high IL6 (interleukin 6)
I bolded the two most important factors to check. I didn’t have any of these but had Basophils too high.
I asked for a CBC Differential blood test. This looks at your immune system–the white blood cells–in addition to the red blood cells. So you can see if there is anything abnormal. In my case basophils were high but nothing else. Basophils are inflammation markers. High basophil shows that there is an inflammation, but not necessarily an infection. So I took a very short course of Prednisone to reduce the inflammation. It greatly helped, but the moment I stopped, the stuff came back again. And when I write “stuff”, I mean sputum, phlegm, and all the nasties in huge amounts. So my next drug was Augmentin in a horse size pill. I have not been good with this drug a while back when I was still eating the SAD diet and it was placed on my allergy list then. But this was THE drug to go for so I also bought a box of Benadryl and got an epipen, just in case…
No problems at all with Augmentin–I suppose having changed my diet to keto and carnivore (seasonal changes time to time) over 5 years ago, my gut and entire body recovered enough to not have any issues, other than itching in one palm. Which was fine. I just scratched like an idiot, but continued. And wow, I am doing great now! I suppose I still had some infection–be it Covid or just some opportunist bug settling into the damaged lung areas. So once again I am feeling great.
The Question: When Did I Have Covid?
I am afraid, this question may never be answered. I either had Covid the first days of January, before anyone else had it–I doubt this very seriously–and then had the long-Covid part (after effects) hit me 9 months later, OR, and I think this is more plausible, I had an asymptomatic Covid infection not too long ago, and the ground-glass-opacity damage is new. We will never know. The prognosis: no clue. If the lung can heal (some say it can), I will heal the thing.
Why Did I Write This Story?
So that YOU listen up!! This is serious stuff! If it can happen to me, it can happen to you and everyone else. So take care, protect yourself and others! Don’t listen to naysayers and conspiracy theorists! This stuff is real! This stuff can hurt you even if you never realized you had Covid! This stuff can end your life!
Comments are welcome, as always, and are moderated for appropriateness
Rough story, for sure (and, of course, it could be worse). Have you considered antibody tests?
Mid-December I was exposed to a symptomatic person who tested positive. I behaved as if I had been exposed. Never had a symptom I could point to as “COVID”. I’m thinking I’d like the Salimetric salivary IgA test as well as a LabCorp serology test. I’d be interested in your thoughts.
And I hope you feel better. Across the board. Joint injuries are no fun. I’m 66. Thanks.
Thank LA_Bob. I actually had the antibody test and it showed negative at that time. However, we now know that a large percent of the infections don’t produce antibodies (particularly the asymptomatic ones), because if only the innate immune system needed to respond, it has no memory T-cells active in the fight. So there will be no antigen created. If the adaptive immune system is activated–this is what the mRNA vaccines do–then there is immune memory, but even in this case, studies have shown that immunity reduced over a few short months to next to nothing.
Of course, with all the new strains now mutating, one can catch if and every strain!! We already have documented (published) reports of people catching it more than once and at that time there were much fewer strain variants than now.
It is also the case that if you get the antigen test too soon or too late, it may show negative. It takes almost a month to develop antigen after catching the bug and having the adaptive immune system involved, so if one tests it too soon after the infection, even if one has immunity for some time, it may not yet show up.
Another variant is that immune cells live for only 6 months–some live past that but those cells are very rare. So if you get tested more than 6 months after you had the virus, it may show negative as a result.
I had the blood (serology) immune test (negative), and I am sure that the accuracy of these tests is also a variant. I wouldn’t know which is more sensitive.
In terms of my healing: just about to get my 4th CT scan to see if the lungs have improved. I feel completely healthy other than having lower O2 saturation in my blood than should be. Thank you for your message! Stay safe!
Just out of curiosity… have you got your 25-OH-vitamin-D level measured too? Its been said by those in the know (Dr. Davis, Dr. Cannell) that our skin is less eficcient generating it as we get older.
If you are in an experimentalist mood next time you got some viral infection or post inflamation symptoms, you may give vitamin C either oral saturation or liposomal 3×3–6g/day a try. Intravenously delivered has been getting consistent results (even Dr. Ernst has not been so dismissive lately). Late Dr. Cathcart clinical experience on oral route and Dr. Levy one on liposomal encapsulated point toward them been plausibly efficient on viral and bacterial infections.
My bias is that my father (85 y.o., COPD) got himself in hospital last February with pneumonia because of a very generous regime of oral corticoids the previous month from his ENT doctor in order to reduce simple nasal polyps. We have gotten them in check previously with vitamin D but not anymore, and vitamin C doesn’t seem to make a dent in them either. We are just trying to dodge coming back to the ENT doctor doing shallow corticoid schedules when appropiate through his family doctor.
And yes, correct diet comes first.
I hope you get completely better soon.
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I hope your father will recover. I recommend you read the book “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” – May 26, 2020 by James Nestor. It is an excellent book about how to force the nose to work again! I have improved my lungs as I started to apply some of the things I originally saw him describe on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4C7vmT9lDQ Awesome ideas and suggestions. Best wishes to your dad.
In terms of me: I have my 25-OH-vitamin-D level measured regularly because I have a genetic variant and I cannot make enough of the thing… I supplement it regularly. My level is mid- to upper- of the max lab range; so I am quite normal. I have always supplemented D3 because of my genetic oops there. So I am always in the right range. I supplement the D3 I designed. 😉 I design the products of this company: https://www.healthbyprinciple.com/collections/all (I am not receiving royalties or earnings from them.)
I started to supplement high C dose the first signs of feeling ill in early January, when I was sick with what I thought was a sinus infection. It was really weird type of sinus infection though… something I never had before. I don’t mean to get into ugly details, but calling the stuff “thick and sticky” in an understatement. I was placed on antibiotics and it improved but left sinus damage–hence the book on breathing. There was no “Covid” yet in popular knowledge and no tests.
By the end of February I had breathing difficulties without being sick at all. I bought a pulse oximeter first with finger tip measure, then I got one that measures and records O2 for up to 48 hours nonstop and shares data with my phone. I could see there that my O2 sat dropped to 81% while sleeping… I was placed on oxygen then–I still use it at night. I then also got a CT scan of the lungs to see if I had any issues. Nothing abnormal. I was supplementing NAC and C and zinc at this time and these seemed to have helped.
While I was (still am) using O2 at night, I was completely healthy during the day from end of February till the middle of October, when the next CT scan showed I had Covid ground glass opacity lung damage. I was completely fine though so it was really odd to see the lung damage without having been ill!
Then in November I had difficulty breathing again!! I had lots of phlegm. So I must have had a second bout then. I was put on Augmentin for 10 days. This drug was on my allergy list but we decided that the benefits outweighed the risks and I went for it, packed up with epipen and Benadryl in case I needed it but I was fine. That drug kicked whatever I had in the butt and I recovered well.
However, it seems that completely asymptomatic Covid infection can leave one with organ damage, which can then predispose to future damage and additional infections, independent of metabolic health, good D3, and vitamin C supplementation! Vitamin C is specific to respiratory stuff, and as you know, Covid is not a respiratory disease, although it mimics as one. So takign C may or may not help at all. I am not sure we know what may help… I am looking forward to the vaccine!
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My father lingers at 90–95% SpO2 usually when ‘healthy’ (it has something like 33% of lung capacity). First I should have to get him to do some resistance exercise. Breathing techniques are a good idea too; I will take a look, thanks. I haven’t been able to get him to get water showers. Nor giving up bread.
Just to make sure we’re on the same page about ‘high-dose’ vitamin C. Back in the day when we took vitamin C pills instead of directly powder (nowadays I buy 5kg of sodium ascorbate every 4–6 months and my father take somewhat more than half of it) my father needed something like 40g in order to saturate when healthy; I took something like 40g sometimes when ill. Of course liposomal may get better results as stated by Dr. Levy with something like 3×3–6g/day; that is what my wife takes when she gets a cold/flu.
Apart of that I am out of ideas. I suppose that you shouldn’t have a selenium deficit either living in California. Nevertheless, it seems that lung function should recover even not doing anything at all, I hope.
Thanks for your response Andrés. I agree on the C. I started with ascorbic acid but I was taking 10 gr a day–taking 2 gr at the times, 5 times a day, when I was unable to breathe in January and I stayed on it through November. I just tapered off and take only 1400 mg a day now.
As for the lung capacity: with age lung capacity drops foe many. My normal daytime when I don’t use the O2 is 90-93%, and that’s OK. I suspect that in ketosis we need less oxygen as well. Not sure but I function well, even hike, with such O2 levels. It’s only when I sleep that it drops and I have no apnea… Exercise definitely helps. Indeed, our diet is selenium rich–at least mine is with all that eat.
I hope you can convince your dad to stop eating grains. That was the most important thing we gave up. My biggest victory is that my hubby accepted his fate of no more bread. 😉 It wasn’t easy but he gave it a try and now wouldn’t go back. I don’t know anything about the hydrotherapy. I will read that.
Best wishes to you and to your dad!
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The naysayers can take a hike as far as I am concerned. I’m protecting myself since the onset of this misery. I bought myself a bunch of N95’s, and wear one when doing groceries etc. Keeping the 1.5 meter is difficult when others don’t. Once I almost beat up an asshole who couldn’t stay away from me. For the rest I stay at home as much as possible. Which is often an ordeal now I’m the only one in the house.
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I understand Roald. It is an ordeal for you especially, but you must stay safe. You are high risk in more ways than one. Unfortunately I must go to medical buildings time to time–like I have an MRI for my rotator cuff again on Sunday and I cannot wear an N95 in the MRI machine because of the metal… Other than places like this, I keep my distance. I order nearly all my foods–I would anyway because I order from reliably pasture-raised farms where the animals are kept well and healthy–and only go to small local store once a week for fresh stuff like milk and other dairy and berries. Hubby also goes once a week…
I also haven’t seen my kinds and grandkids since January. It is hard but it is also the only way we can stay as safe as possible. And even this way I caught it somewhere… so what can we do.
Anyhow, I wish you safety and peace. ❤ Get some good books!
I am keeping busy by writing, being interviewed–a YouTube will soon come out–also writing 3 lectures on migraine–I already recorded the video part so now just the slides, etc. Keeping busy also physically when possible–lately bad air quality has kept me indoors often but whenever possible I go for 3-5-mile hikes in the hills, and since the gyms are still closed, setting up a home gym for lifting again. I miss deadlifts and trap bar lifts the most… I am thinking of buying a barbell trap bar. 😉