opinion

A tingling tongue, sore back, and intense period pain: 15 women on their COVID experiences.

Last week, I poured my heart out in an article about my recent - and ongoing - experiences with COVID, and the trivialisation I had at times encountered on social media. 

And I’ve got to be honest, as I hit 'publish', a flutter of butterflies took flight, right from the pit of my stomach, ascending to my throat. Vulnerable, I expressed my lived reality and deep feelings – in all of their rawness. 

Watch: Signs to use when talking about COVID. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

But something resonated. 

Within minutes, the Mamamia Facebook page blew up with comments, and many reached out to me publicly and privately on Instagram. Other women, feeling validated, shared what they and their loved ones have been going through. 

Their worries. Their realities. 

“I felt a little less alone after reading about your experience with COVID.” 

It was the sentiment that echoed again and again. 

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And yes, when we see bits of ourselves in each other's stories, we do feel less alone.

So, we’re sharing some of your words, your symptoms (the ones we hear about, and the “weird” ones too) to remind you, that we hear you, we see you, and we look forward to being on the other side of this with you.

This is what we’re going through.

Lily

“I had some symptoms, but didn't realise they were actual symptoms until later – a very sore back, neck and muscles. It felt like I had worked out, but I hadn’t. I was also super tired, and whenever I stood up, I got a lightheaded rush. 

"My first period post-COVID was also very painful – terrible aches and cramps. And I still feel a bit lightheaded sometimes, even now, three to four weeks later.”

Merryn

“In my first few days of COVID, I literally couldn’t sleep and I had restless legs and arms. My partner (who was also positive) couldn’t sleep a wink either. 

"I also felt joint aches – particularly bad in my knees and hips – aching, throbbing legs, had the sweats, bouts of nausea, cough, and sore throat. After a week, I started to feel better for two to three days, but then yesterday, I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest, and I struggled to breathe when doing basic tasks, or even just sitting up instead of laying down. I went to hospital, and thank God, all of the major things were ruled out. It was just 'lingering COVID'. 

"While I generally feel okay in the morning, by 11.30am, I want to go back to bed. I start shaking, my heart beats fast and I am short of breath, but I am okay when I sleep or rest. I have never had a cold or virus do that to me. It’s so unpredictable. I have literally felt alone with it as I’m the first of my close circle to get it.”

Katie

“I had a scratchy cough for the first four days and then on the fifth day, I had all the symptoms at once: headaches, fever, hot/cold sweats, fatigue, nausea, no appetite. I felt super rotten. On day six, these symptoms halved in impact, and the following day, I tested negative. 

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"It was a bit of a whirlwind; I definitely wasn't expecting delayed symptoms like that at all. Also, experiencing all of that while in an apartment with no outside space and no aircon made things feel significantly worse – I feel like I slow-cooked in my symptoms. That was a few weeks ago, and I’m all good now.”

Hayley

“I feel a slight numbness and a tingling sensation of the tongue and roof of my mouth. My tongue is covered in white stuff and it felt sore and weird but I didn’t lose my taste. I've also been experiencing numb and tingling fingers sporadically.”

Tiffany

"I first experienced aching joints and a high fever. This lasted two days and afterwards it felt like a bad head cold, intense headache, blocked sinuses and a slight cough. But everyday I felt significantly better than the previous one. After five days I felt relatively back to normal all except my taste and smell. This still hasn’t returned a month later. 

"My isolation period was during the Christmas break. My boyfriend, who was also isolating, tried to make Christmas day special by cooking a roast with veggies and gravy. What I didn’t realise was that when you can’t taste, meat with gravy is like eating something dunked in water; wet, tasteless, and not enjoyable at all. It really is the strangest thing to experience.   

"I forget all the time and go to taste something delicious and get very disappointed. I miss smelling soap and shampoo in the shower. I miss smelling minty freshness after I have cleaned my teeth. I went to smell a rose in a friends garden –  nothing! I can taste salt and sweet and spicy, but with no flavour. Eating doesn’t have the enjoyment that it used to. Anyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy food. I love cooking special dishes and trying new flavours, so this is quite devastating for me. I have been reading about retraining my olfactory system by sniffing essential oils and occasionally I will get a slight scent. So, there is hope and I am optimistic it will come back."

Mikayla

“The first day, I woke up feeling super, super tired. I couldn't get out of bed till 11am. I also got lower back pain.”

Eliza

“I got headaches behind my eyeballs; if I would move my eyes too quickly it would be a piercing headache. My son (aged three) had no symptoms at all, and if anything, was more energetic. But my daughter (aged 10 months) had laboured breathing, temperatures of above 40, a blocked nose and a cold for seven days. She was in hospital for a day and now has a bacterial infection off the back of COVID, but is generally much better.”

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Jo

“I’ve had every freaking symptom except the sore throat. My sinuses and ears are inflamed so I’ve been so dizzy. I haven’t been able to do anything for three days and the room even spins when I’m lying down. Super happy some people aren’t very sick, but geez this is debilitating for me.”

Image: Getty. 

Susan

“Following eight days of headache, ‘glass shards’ in my throat, fever and aches I felt fatigued and depleted and somehow, in pieces. I slept for hours but isolating from my husband and family over Christmas/New Year left me feeling broken emotionally. After nearly two years of cautiously following every rule and restriction, I was reeling that COVID had caught me. 

"I received my first care monitor call on day eight. I felt anxious even though my health professional husband cared for me and I was aware of support from family and friends. It made me consider that anyone who goes through a symptomatic COVID illness with any less support than I had – would find it terrifying. 

"I am now coming up to four weeks post-COVID and while yes, I’m still easily fatigued and emotionally fragile, my ‘pieces’ are slowly coming back together.”

Marisa

“One of my (weird!) symptoms were the leg cramps in my calves. It felt like I had run a marathon and now, two weeks later, my calves are super toned?! I am still not quite right physically – very tired and can’t work out at the same capacity.”

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Madeleine

“Losing my taste and smell was the absolute worst. It's been over two weeks and while it returns in waves, I still don't have it back fully. For example, I can taste sweet and salty but distinguishing the actual flavour is super hard. Otherwise, it felt like I just had a cold until day six. On day seven, I felt like I had been hit by a truck and slept all day, but after that, I was good as new – just with a lingering cough.”

Natalie

“My son (aged 11) got COVID two weeks ago, then my eldest daughter (aged 16), then my littlest daughter (aged three), and a few days later, I finally got it too. My eldest was vaxxed so she had very mild symptoms, my son had a headache for seven days straight and my youngest had very high fevers for 72 hours. My husband is a doctor and he had to isolate from us and move out for two weeks. Just when I thought I was at the end of the stressful COVID journey, and I felt like eating again, I lost my taste and smell.”

Steph

“I struggled with nausea, gastro-like symptoms and an intense headache the most. I have also found I have a lingering tiredness and weakness, and could fall asleep almost every afternoon.”

Amy

“I tested positive in early January. I had a high temperature and was super congested with a cough. I didn’t get a sore throat, but I lost my taste for a couple days around day three to four, but that came back super fast. I almost felt a weird sense of relief. Like, to no longer be wondering whether I had it, or not. I hadn’t had my booster yet, but for me, it felt like a bad virus; honestly, I’ve been much sicker in the past. This was nowhere near the strep throat or tonsillitis I’ve had in the last few years.

My two sons didn’t get it, but my daughter and husband did. He has been having crazy dreams.

I’m still pretty tired and this dry cough is lingering. I wouldn't say I’m back to normal. I don’t feel like myself. I’m not sleepy, just… very low energy. I did a Pilates class and it was a real struggle, so definitely not back to exercising yet. It’s a bit of a reality check to remind myself that we get better slowly sometimes. It’s not always a straight bounce back.”

Gia

“I got the cough, and five days in, I got all congested like a cold. It’s been just over two weeks since I tested positive and I am still tired and lightheaded.”

Want to read more from Rebecca Davis? You can find her articles here, or follow her on Instagram, @rebeccadavis___

The feature image used is a stock image from Getty. All women included in this article are known to Mamamia.