"Some days, it's really hard, incredibly hard."
Nicole Wahler was in her mid-20s and led a very active and healthy lifestyle before she tested positive for COVID-19 in June 2020. Even though it's been two years since then, Wahler, now 28, said she is still suffering from the effects of the virus, which has claimed the lives of many around the world.
"My body is fighting so many different battles on a daily basis," the New Jersey resident told Good Morning America. "I've gotten to the point where I'm eating about five different foods but that's all I can eat, and if I don't have proper nutrition to fight those battles, I'm not going to be able to fight, and I'm just going to continue to deteriorate."
Wahler thought she would feel better two weeks after she tested positive like everyone else but "things just never got better," she said. "My chest pain grew worse. I started having tachycardia, increased heart rate; intense brain fog to the point I couldn't have a coherent conversation. I would forget what I was saying in the middle of a sentence."
BREAKING: The global COVID-19 death toll has hit 6 million as the pandemic enters its third year, according to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University. https://t.co/P2TwhLr84j— The Associated Press (@AP) March 7, 2022
However, several months after testing positive for COVID-19, Wahler was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). According to the National Institute for Health, it is a common condition that happens when not enough blood returns to the heart when moving from lying down to standing up position, causing a rapid heart rate, lightheadedness or fainting.
Wahler said she has also been diagnosed with post-viral fatigue syndrome, which has made it hard to talk or even open her eyes at times. Unfortunately for Wahler, it didn't end there. A few months later, she was further diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), which "causes a person to have repeated severe allergy symptoms affecting several body systems," according to the NIH.
In Wahler's case, she also developed allergic reactions to foods, causing her to lose over 30 pounds in a period of a few months.
Also, Wahler, who was a middle and high school-level science teacher—the head of her high school's math and science departments, had to give up her job and stop teaching because of long COVID. But, she said she can now see a light at the end of the tunnel, but said it is still "far away and I have a lot of work to do."
The risk of long Covid is one reason I'm still masking.— Jess Calarco (@JessicaCalarco) March 12, 2022
My BIL had mild Covid twice. After the second time, he developed cognitive symptoms that make it hard to communicate/focus at work. He's only 40, has 4 young kids, and is his family's sole earner.
Why not reduce that risk?
Since none of her illnesses have a specific cure, the woman has to undergo a series of physical therapy, medication, breath work and cognitive exercises to improve her brain function.
"I am too sick to do 'normal' daily routine things like do dishes or laundry," she said. "So when I'm not medicating, stretching, etc., I'm usually resting because those tasks take a lot of energy out of me."
Now, if she does step out, which she tends to avoid as it's too tiring, she uses a wheelchair and seeks help from her mom to get around. But, to help cope with her mental health and to work on improving her brain function, Wahler also sets a daily intention and says daily affirmations, followed by an evening mediation before bed.
"Some days, it's really hard, incredibly hard," she said. "That's when you really have to dig deep and just think, well, what am I grateful for, and I'm grateful for my niece and nephew. I'm grateful for my friends that support me on an hour-to-hour basis."
She also revealed that she has been unable to get vaccinated against the virus due to her compromised immune system, and therefore does not venture far beyond her home.
We (@LizMarnik and I) have been asked many times to share Long Covid data, especially as it pertains to mild infections and neurological, cardiac effects. So we rounded up some recent data. 🧵 1/9 pic.twitter.com/FlEVWOehfj— Sabina Vohra-Miller (@SabiVM) March 13, 2022
"In the state that I'm in, I can't risk getting COVID again," she said. "I'm confident that the physical health that I was in the first time I got COVID prevented me from dying, so now if I got COVID, again, I'm not sure how the cards would play out."
She added, "But once my body is in a better state, and a lot of my chronic illnesses are back under control, 1,000%, I will definitely be getting the vaccine."
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | fedrelena