This week’s COVID Catch-up: Riding the rollercoaster of improvement

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“Feeling better” is an elusive state of being for Carrie Steinweg right now

COVID
Carrie Steinweg (photo provided)

COVID Catch-up is a weekly column featuring Lansing Journal journalist Carrie Steinweg’s personal experience with COVID-19 and things she learned from others who shared their experiences. Subscribe today to make sure you don’t miss any COVID Catch-ups. Last week’s column is available here.

By Carrie Steinweg

LANSING, Ill. (June 3, 2021) – To anyone who has read this column on my COVID experience over the past few months, it probably seems like I have done a lot of complaining. You’re probably tired of hearing about it. It’s been tiring for me in so many ways. As someone who is naturally an upbeat, optimistic person, I’ve gotten so tired of there being so many negatives to my days and tired of having so much to complain about.

One step forward, one step back

I’m almost afraid to type the words that I seem to finally feel like I’m turning a corner and showing improvement. I don’t want to jinx myself. And as soon as I think I’m having a really good day, the next day knocks me back down and lets me know that it’s not over. In fact, I’ve started writing this column five or six times — excited to write about feeling good. But when I’d get back to it later in the day or the next day, things had gone the opposite direction. However, I recognize that if I have one good day and then one bad day, that is an improvement. Feeling good half the time is definitely better than feeling good none of the time.

Small steps

I kept thinking that if I would just be patient, I would be all better in time. I would gradually improve until I was back to normal. It just hasn’t rang true. Weeks after it all started, I was feeling very optimistic. I felt myself get better little by little. I saw small, but steady improvements. Many of the symptoms that had hit so hard early on or been lingering for a long time were fading away.

I explained this in a column previously that after several weeks of recovery from my November bout of COVID, I was feeling much better and most symptoms were getting better or even disappearing. I felt about 80% back to my normal self.

In March, I was vaccinated and within hours I felt like I had COVID all over again. All of the symptoms were back in full force and I even had new ones pop up that I hadn’t experienced earlier. I went completely backwards and still don’t feel like I’ve gotten to the point I was at before I was vaccinated.

But, I need to celebrate the little steps that make me feel like I’m recovering. The insomnia has gotten better and I’m able to fall asleep easier. My hair has stopped falling out. I’m not as fatigued as I was a month ago.

Helping myself feel better

After weeks of feeling stuck at around 50-60% of my normal self, I decided that instead of waiting to get better, I should try and do more to help myself heal. I was still feeling constantly exhausted and sleeping anywhere from 8 to 12 hours a day and hated feeling drained all day long no matter how much rest I got.

It’s very likely that being overweight played a part how I was affected by COVID, so I decided I should put in some work to try and make myself healthier and to drop some weight. I met a lady in April that I was writing about who had lost 92 pounds in a little over a year and she told me she had done three things at a doctor’s direction to lose weight – drink at least four 16-ounce water bottles a day, exercise for at least 30 minutes five times a week and limit calories to 1200 a day. It sounded like something I could do, so I started to.

I increased my water intake and have met that minimum of 64 ounces every day for six weeks. I have exercised nearly every day, some days for just 15 minutes, but sometimes for an hour or more. I’ve progressed from brief walks and low impact aerobics to now doing short, modified high-intensity interval training workouts and bicycle rides of 5 miles or more. I cut down on carbs and starches and stared cutting out at least 500 calories a day. It has definitely made a difference, although I can’t say it was a miracle cure. I still bounce back and forth, feeling great one day and exhausted and foggy the next, but my tolerance for physical activity is increasing and I’m down about 12 pounds.

There are a lot of days that I’m still pretty fatigued and my workout, walk, or bike ride for the day wipes me out and is all the activity I can do that day. I’m not in bed 13 hours out of the day like I was for several weeks, but I can sleep a good nine hours or more and still feel like I need more sleep. Although I lost some weight initially, the scale has been stuck within the same two-pound span for a couple weeks now and I need to not obsess over the number on the scale. I feel healthier and hope that the times of feeling good will continue to outnumber the days of not feeling so good.

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