My COVID Story: My intervals acquired delayed as a result of an infection

Neha Pant was preparing for a family wedding when she tested positive. Here she shares her struggle with loss of smell and taste and how her menstrual cycle got affected due to COVID.

My COVID test which was the RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) happened by chance in the midst of preparations for my niece’s wedding on 11th December in Rajasthan. We were all gung-ho for the wedding which was to have a limited attendance and then my brother-in-law got fever on 19th November. He quickly isolated himself and began consulting a doctor. He had high fever 101/102F. On 21st November, I felt an acute headache and a slight increase in body temperature to 99.6F. I took a paracetamol and the fever was gone the next morning.

Since, my BIL’s fever wasn’t going he tested for every bacterial and viral infection, including the RAT for Covid, on 24th November. He tested Covid Positive in the RAT. The next day his other test reports also came and he had Typhoid too. The double infection scared us all and that is what led to the entire family testing on 26th November. We all took the RAT and my father-in-law, who is an octogenarian, and I tested positive.

We had no symptoms till then. However, the RAT had irritated my sinuses and I started sneezing unabatedly, developed a severe cold and sneezed for the next 3 days. Even though we had started the kadha, medicines (including Coronil) and steam and isolated ourselves (my FIL and I were in the same room on separate beds), the sneezing didn’t stop. On the third day, I took an anti-allergic (Montair LC) and the sneezing stopped the next morning. But, a cough developed. Also, on that same day, 29th November, I lost my sense of smell and taste. I felt handicapped, almost like someone had short-circuited the nervous system and I had lost 2 of the 5 physical senses.

What ensued was I read through several articles and first-person accounts of Covid on the internet. Some articles indicated that the loss of sense of smell, also known as anosmia, normally lasted anywhere between 3 and 28 days, however, it could even take up to a year and a half to be back if the nerve-endings had been severely damaged. The unpredictability was horrible. I tried to smell whatever I could lay my hands on – creams, lotions, shampoos, perfumes, and even food – but drew a complete blank.

It was around the 28th that I had expected my period, but I missed it. Since, the cycle being off by a couple of days is acceptable, I saw no problem till the 30th. But I informed my gynae who suggested that I take a home pregnancy test. So, I took a home pregnancy test on the 1st and it came back negative. However, there was no sign of a period. The silver lining through all this was that I could taste natural things like fruits. I also discovered that I could distinguish sweet from sour, but I could not gauge the saltiness or the taste of anything that had been cooked. Tea tasted like warm water.

On the same day, I discovered a pull in my lower jaw while I was brushing and rinsing my mouth. The rinsing was an arduous task. The jaw muscles were weak. I also had a dry mouth and there was less saliva than usual. Thus, swallowing was somewhat tough. Sense of smell and taste were still at large.

On the 2nd, I could taste salt again. Even though overall taste was still at bay, strong condiments in soup tickled my taste buds and they recognized the flavours. A sense of calm developed in me and I could feel that the senses were on the road to recovery. I had had no fever all this while and my oxygen had not dipped below 97% and yet my family had asked all of us “positive” patients to avoid the bath. I took a bath after full 8 days on the 3rd. Body felt rejuvenated. And, another positive sign (no pun intended), a slight whiff of the Nivea men’s gel meant that the sense of smell was on its way back! New symptom, though, was a splitting headache.

The headache was intermittent and when it occurred it was acute. On the 4th, I sensed another trouble and this time it was my reading comprehension. I could read but I had to read loudly and whatever I read was garbled. Being an English teacher, I developed a new insecurity – what if the comprehension never recovered?! The one thing that novel corona virus does is play games with your mind. Even if you are otherwise healthy and experience few or no physical symptoms, the virus can completely screw up your brain.

I kept my sanity by reading the Hindu religious texts, whether or not you understand them, they give you strength. Also, as a healer myself, I requested a fellow Pranic Healer® to give me healing sessions and I can swear that it kept my nerves calm and didn’t let any of my symptoms become too acute.

By the 6th of December, my taste and smell were almost back although with a few distortions. All the while I did not have high fever and my oxygen level was above 97% at all times. My BIL tested negative for Covid on the 8th which was cause for celebration in the family. However, he still kept getting a temperature of 99+ because of his Typhoid. My FIL and I tested negative on the 10th, but both of us still felt weak. Climbing a single flight of stairs would still make me gasp for breath. Yet, there was a sense of relief that we had beaten the virus. Since the period was still absent, I did a serum pregnancy test. It came back negative the next day.

We also got regular blood tests done to check for the infection values. Tests conducted regularly were D-dimer, CRP and CBC. We also got our chest X-ray and CT Scans done. This helped in proper medication especially for my BIL and FIL. My reports were mostly normal except for the D-dimer test. The doctor said that there was no cause for alarm and that my body would come back to normal if I continued with a healthy diet. It was on the 12th of December when my period finally appeared and that’s what assured me that my body was now really getting back to normal. It is the third week since I tested negative, but slight cough, headache and fast exhaustion still persist. I’m sure though that the new year will bring in good health all round.

P.S.: – Hold on to hope and stay positive. Take help of whatever and whoever helps you do that. Have the medicines religiously and take steam and kadha. Do physical and breathing exercises as much as your body permits, but don’t tire yourself out. Keep in touch with your doctor.

(Representational image used)

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The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for physician’s advice. Please consult your treating physician for more details.

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