Ashley Antonio Edmonton Canada woman long COVID sufferer. First diagnosed with coronavirus 9 months ago, the trial lawyer continues to suffer acute symptoms.
Ashley Antonio, 35, only suffered mildly from the virus when she contracted just on 257 days ago.
But now the trial lawyer appears to be suffering from the effects of what she fears is the ‘long covid’. The 35-year-old is among a growing number of Canadians known as COVID long-haulers — people who have struggled for months with persistent and sometimes debilitating symptoms.
Public health officials tend to agree that COVID-19 is usually a short-term illness with most people recovering within two weeks however it’s become increasingly clear that this is not the case for everyone, and that the two-week period is only the ‘acute illness’ phase.
Antonio now suffers from a variety of complications some of which are painful and unpredictable, including blinding headaches, lung congestion, rashes, chronic swelling in her joints and heart palpitations reports Edmonton City News.
‘I was extremely healthy. I had no pre-existing conditions’
‘Some days I feel OK, other days I wake up and I can’t breathe, I can’t move,’ Antonio told via CBC.
Adding, ‘I was extremely healthy. I had no pre-existing conditions, none of the comorbidities health officials were talking about, and it just came in like a wrecking ball and destroyed my life.’
Antonio has struggled for several months with what she says are debilitating symptoms and was forced to take off five months off work on short-term disability from her job as a trial lawyer.
As someone who used to exercise every day, Antonio now struggles to even get up the stairs without feeling out of breath.
‘The media and the medical community seem to give the impression that you are either recovered within 10 days and life is normal again, or you die,’ Antonio said.
‘And there is a huge group of people that are struggling somewhere in the middle of that and our lives are impacted every day in terrible ways.’
Antonio first fell ill in late March and thought that she had been struck down with stomach flu. The following morning she woke up and could barely stand.
Wave of symptoms
After about a week the symptoms subsided but this was only just the first wave.
A few weeks later she felt ill once again and she began suffering body aches. Even standing up would make her heard race and a causal walk around the block lead to black-outs.
She also had problems with her memory and concentration – at one point unable to recall her own name.
Six weeks after the symptoms first appeared, she went to the emergency room believing she was having a stroke.
‘I couldn’t feel half of my face and the whole left side of my body for about half-an-hour,’ she said.
‘The night prior, I had crazy night sweats. My bed was soaking wet and I was seeing things in the night and talking to people that I later found out were not there.
‘It could be forever’
‘If I’m not laying down, my heart rate is through the roof,’ she said. ‘To have it now be difficult to walk, and have that be chronic and likely progressive, is really distressing.’
She has been to the emergency room four times. Each time she was admitted and eventually sent home.
Antonio has since undergone a battery of tests to assess the damage. She has developed rheumatoid arthritis and diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a blood circulation disorder triggered by malfunctions in the nervous system.
A COVID-19 antibody test was initially positive but she has now tested negative meaning she could likely be infected by the disease for a second time.
With research into long covid still in its infancy, Antonio’s case is still proving puzzling and she wonders if her symptoms will ever fully resolve.
‘Now, when I have a few good days, I know that the bad days are coming back. It just makes it feel like it will never end.
‘The scariest part is that they don’t know. It could be a few months, it could be a few more years, or it could be forever.’