Hoffmann continues to feel after effects of COVID-19 infection

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

If you thought COVID-19 only hits older people with tough symptoms and ongoing health issues, Sleepy Eye woman Lauren Hoffmann’s experience would prove you wrong. Hoffmann, a healthy and active 34-year-old with no underlying medical issues, tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-October and while no longer sick with the virus, continues to suffer with a variety of after effects. 

After a bout with COVID-19 in October, Lauren Hoffmann is still experiencing a number of lingering symptoms.

Hoffmann is unsure how she contracted COVID-19. “I was not in contact with anyone positive with COVID—that I know of,” she said, “but my tracings would lead to grocery store/Walmart, sand volleyball, or work.” (Hoffmann works as a mental health counselor, placed in an elementary school through a school-linked program.)

Asked how she found out she had COVID-19, Hoffmann said she woke up in the middle of the night with a fever that broke by the evening and did not return.  

Hoffmann was able to get in with the doctor that day . . . was tested late in the afternoon, and received her positive results later that evening [Oct. 13].

“My symptoms hit hard, but in waves,” said Hoffmann. “I started with the fever, which lasted not even a day. Then I was hit with bad stomach pains, throughout the day, on and off for a few days. Next was losing my taste and smell for five to six days, followed by a random, not consistent, rough dry cough for the last two to three days. During my entire contagious period, I was exhausted and worn down, with a random, on and off, slight sore throat and random headaches.”

Hoffmann said while she was quarantined, due to testing positive, she was able to receive her employers’s COVID pay, which had been offered since last spring. But she said she has mostly been able to continue working.  

“I have been blessed and able to work, whether it be in person or via telehealth,” she said. 

Hoffmann said her family members had to quarantine much longer than she did.

“My significant other and our son also had to quarantine, but due to me not being able to completely isolate, they had to quarantine an extra 14 days from my 10th day of being contagious — about 24 days total,” she said. “We did test our son at the end of the first week of me testing positive, as he did have a cold the week before, but he did test negative. Both my significant other and our son displayed some minor symptoms, but did not get tested as they had already been quarantined that extended time. We preferred to not put our 2 1/2-year-old through the testing again.”

Now, nearly two months after recovering from the COVID-19 infection, Hoffmann continues to struggle with health issues and stamina.

“I am still very exhausted, 24/7, no matter the activity I am doing, or not doing, Hoffmann said. “I feel very tired by the end of the day and have been finding myself going to bed earlier than normal most days—in fact the yawns start by 7 p.m.”   

“I have been struggling with my breathing, by experiencing shortness of breath, a dust/burning taste in my throat, at times hard to catch my breath, and a heavier pressure feel to my lungs,” Hoffmann continued. “I am currently in the process of working with my doctor to see if these symptoms are short- or long-term.  So far my lungs sounds normal and look good from an X-ray. 

“After noticing my respiratory test ‘aged me’ to be 20 years older than I am, I will be moving forward with seeing a pulmonary specialist next week.   

“I did lose hearing in my right ear on the 14th day after testing positive for COVID-19. After a few doctor visits and different medications tried—for what looked to be fluid in my ear—I was referred to an ENT who confirmed there was not fluid in the ear. After my hearing test showed I seem to have currently lost over half the percent of my hearing, I had an MRI to rule out an Acoustic Neuroma (Vestibular Schwannoma). With the MRI results showing no growth, it was ruled to be sudden hearing loss due to a viral infection.”

Hoffmann said there isn't anything to do for recovery and will have her hearing retested in sic months. Hoffmann learned they can often inject steroids to help aid the healing of the hearing nerve, but she missed the three to four week window, as anything after that timeframe is too far gone. 

“I’ve heard of only two other people in the area that lost their hearing after testing positive for COVID-19, but have been finding articles stating research is starting to find more cases of hearing loss in one ear as an after effect,” Hoffmann said. 

Asked if she had any advice, Hoffmann said she believes it is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.  

“COVID has proved that everything around us is so temporary and this pandemic is unprecedented for us, but it gives us the opportunity to practice resilience and learn from the kids what true resilience looks like,” Hoffmann said. “I’d ask people to have a little empathy for others who have been affected or lost someone. Please stop being insensitive and making the hundreds of thousands of lives lost seem so insignificant, because they are so significant to many. Stop politicizing COVID, stop saying it is a hoax, and please stop saying it is just like the flu, as for some it is far from the flu.”     

“Be safe, be smart, wash hands and sanitize, and mask up to help our healthcare systems out by slowing the spread.”