Dyspnea

The fever broke, and I was able to sleep for more than five hours. A soft, gray sky this morning. I woke up with mild dyspnea, and did some exercises to control my breathing. Dyspnea, a word from the Latin dyspnoea, from the Greek dúspnoia, from dys, ‘bad, inadequate’, and pnein, ‘breathing’. Difficulty breathing.

It is hard to use the stethoscope on yourself, but my auscultation seems clean. My respiratory rate is normal. Yesterday I also had a bit of dyspnea, and a slight pain when breathing — uncomfortable sensations. My husband and daughter went down to the garden, and I went to the balcony in a bathrobe for some sun and fresh air. It helped. I was thinking about tuberculosis, a disease that kills many people (as an infectologist friend reminds me), in the sanatoriums. I put another Brazilian film on my list to watch. Floradas na Serra, with Cacilda Becker.

Having access to information is good and bad at the same time, because it increases anxiety, but this is the time to be patient, to stay away, which for doctors is not easy. There are many changes taking place in the medical profession, and other occupations have become secondary. Some psychiatric hospitals in London are temporarily becoming coronavirus units, for example.’

COVID-19 has a special tropism toward the lungs, even in people without respiratory symptoms. I follow a Chinese radiologist based in Madrid who became infected with the virus. Every day he does an ultrasound of his lungs. Despite having mild symptoms, he noticed a thickening of the pleura and other findings since the beginning of the infection. His record is original and very useful. We can learn from his symptoms and observations, which will be useful for our work.

My appetite has returned a little, but the food is tasteless. My senses of smell and taste have decreased. I tried smelling acetone. Almost nothing. This is an early symptom of COVID-19 infection; Spanish neurologists have alerted us to this.

What bothers me at the moment is a little nausea, an accelerated intestinal transit. There are people who have only digestive symptoms, even abdominal pain, and others who will have respiratory symptoms later. This has only been known very recently. You have to be alert. Not everything is the dyspnea / dry cough / high fever triad.

Meanwhile, my immune system is still fighting. In general, I feel better and more willing today. Women are healthier, have fewer comorbidities, and for this reason they seem to recover faster from COVID-19 infection. Mortality is markedly higher in men. This is a gender advantage.

Virna Teixeira

Translated by Chris Daniels

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