CHICAGO — For some, coronavirus symptoms last weeks and can lead to a host of long-term complications. Others who contract the disease experience mild, flu-like symptoms.
Humboldt Park resident Amy Myers falls into the latter category.
The 29-year-old had a mild bout of coronavirus in the middle of April: She lost her sense of smell for three weeks, but she only felt “really, really sick” for two days.
“It wasn’t as bad as a lot of people’s experiences,” she said. “I don’t assume everyone’s going to have a mild case. It seems like a pretty personalized, terrifying thing.”
Thousands of Chicagoans have recovered from the mysterious disease since the pandemic took hold. Myers is sharing her recovery story to help others understand what medical experts have been saying for weeks: The severity of the illness can vary drastically from person to person.
‘So Many Unknowns’
Myers said she started feeling sick April 14.
“I felt a bit achey and had the chills, but it was pretty cold that day — it was snowing — and I dismissed it. I thought it’s probably just anxiety,” she said.
The next day, Myers woke up with the same symptoms, plus a “horrible” headache. She slept all day to try and fight it off. Later that day, she developed a slight fever.
Myers still felt ill the following day, but her fever had broken. At that point, Myers’ roommate, who works in a pediatric emergency room, insisted Myers get tested for coronavirus.
The test results came back positive. Over the next few days, Myers developed a few more symptoms, but none of them were severe.
“After that, I got a cough, intermittent — nothing really bad. I lost my sense of smell a couple days later. I just felt fatigued and had a bit of a cough,” she said.
By that point, the worst of it was over. Unlike others with COVID-19, Myers’ flu-like symptoms never came back. Myers said she only missed four days of work.
“The rest of the time I was feeling tired. I didn’t have much energy,” she said. “When I first went back to work, I was like, ‘OK, it’s 6 p.m. It’s time to go to bed.'”
But Myers said losing her sense of smell — one of the symptoms most commonly associated with the virus — was unnerving.
“It’s. … scary because you realize the things you use smell for. I wouldn’t have known if there was a fire or if there was smoke [while] in isolation,” she said. “It just added to this fear of the unknown of whether I was going to get it back.”
Myers has fully recovered and resumed working from home. She works in client support in the payment industry.
Looking back, she said she’s surprised she tested positive for the disease, which is so often associated with respiratory problems. Her sister, a doctor in Scotland, had the virus as well.
“She couldn’t breathe and would get super winded going up the stairs. I associated it with the respiratory stuff because that’s what I heard,” she said.
Myers said she’s not sure how she got the virus. It could’ve been from her roommate, who works at a hospital, but her roommate was never sick, she said.
But she said she’s glad her roommate insisted she get tested because not knowing took a psychological toll — even just for those few days.
“I was worried because I know there are so many unknowns with it,” she said. “A lot of young people were having strokes. … I started to get anxious about so many of those things. Luckily, I’m surrounded by medical professionals in my life.”
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