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How a Fitness Instructor Recovers From COVID

I’ve been a healthy, active fitness instructor for the past 20 years, but on July 1, I woke up sick, and thought it was COVID. After some trouble getting tested, it came back positive. I kept getting weaker and had trouble breathing, and a nurse friend convinced me to go to the ER. I didn’t have the strength to walk in on my own. I was put on oxygen and had lung, kidney and liver failure, plus blood clots throughout my body and rhabdomyolysis [muscle tissue gets broken down and ends up in the blood]. I thought COVID was just flu-like symptoms, but it was far worse. I had trouble sleeping because I thought I wasn’t going to wake up. But I refused to be defeated.

I was released on July 21, and had lost 20 pounds of muscle. I couldn’t open the refrigerator or walk to the kitchen. But I refused to stay in bed, because that meant I was going to stay sick. A little more than a week later, I had to return to the ER for a few days due to a blood clot in my leg, and when I was released, I started using a walker. I had to figure out everything, like how to shower without assistance—and I used to teach four group exercise classes in one day.

I use anger to push myself—I get up and say “[email protected]$% you” to the virus, and “I will not be defeated” over and over again. At first, I walked with the walker and used a spirometer to strengthen my lungs. Each week I push myself a little more. It was a milestone when I was able to walk three miles. In August, I could do one push-up and completed 20 within two months. In late October, I challenged myself to do rounds of walking a quarter mile and doing 10 push-ups until I hit 101 push-ups. I pushed so hard I cried. I’m not giving up. I do not want to be another statistic. I am learning to push but also be patient and give my body time.

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