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What It Was Like to Get a Breakthrough COVID Infection as a Vaccinated, Immunocompromised Person

On Monday, August 30, I was supposed to have two surgeries to repair two hernias in my abdomen. Within the weeks leading to the surgeries, I closed my alterations business, double-masked everywhere I went which was only on a needed basis and was extra cautious in general. Still, after having gone two years not catching COVID-19, it finally caught me. I am vaccinated, but I am high-risk, immunocompromised, have heart, lung, and vascular disease, and all are associated with the rare genetic syndrome, 22Q11.2 deletion syndrome. As careful as I was, the virus somehow found its way into my system and began its attack.

For two weeks, I stayed in my bedroom, avoided my parents, and maintained far more than six feet distance. It was strange quarantining after all this time, and I was angry at myself for catching the novel virus. I’d kept asking myself what I’d done wrong to be so careless, but I wasn’t. When you have as many health conditions as I do, you are mindful every second and minute of the day, even if others are in denial that there are now dangerous variants still rampaging through the world.

Vaccines don’t prevent all individuals from catching the virus, their job is to develop enough antibodies to actively fight against it to prevent hospitalization and death. The CDC is referring to these cases as breakthroughs, meaning even some vaccinated people are catching COVID-19 and getting very sick. This was me for two weeks, also fearing the repercussions of how my heart and lungs would cope with this breakthrough infection.

I had a wide variety of symptoms including a stuffy head and nose, a cough that caused radiating pain that sprung from my chest to throat to my head. I also suffered two weeks of between a dull and severe headache that I couldn’t shake. I was most concerned about the cough as it was causing worsening pain. I had the full body aches from head to toe, like my fibromyalgia flareups, which I thought was the cause at first. It wasn’t until I dealt with coughing fits that had me hunched over on the floor that I knew I’d caught COVID-19, possibly one of the variants.

The Delta variant is spreading and multiplying cases in my hometown outside of Chicago. Since my symptoms were severe, I knew it wasn’t regular COVID-19. For about eight days there, I was very ill and nervous about my low-capacity right lung, as half of it is missing. I have supraventricular tachycardia, SVT, and those episodes were kicking up. My heart rate would be at a standard 80 and then skyrocket abruptly to as high as 147 or more. There were moments when I would lie in bed enduring these symptoms and pray that I wouldn’t have a heart attack or that the virus wasn’t finding its way into the weak areas of my heart.

Throughout the duration of this infection, I took homeopathic remedies that eased my symptoms. The job of these remedies is to thin secretions, and this allowed me to blow my nose every day and cough the infection out. Had I not taken these remedies, I’d probably would’ve gotten much sicker and been unable to flush the virus out of my system as effectively as I did. I took bio-plasma, cell salts, that directly treat issues within the cells by thinning secretions and boosting the body’s natural healing processes. I drank up to two liters of water a day and avoided gluten and dairy.

The combination of these health and wellness practices eased my symptoms and the severity of this illness enough. After the two weeks, I had a new energy and could breathe clearly. I am through the infection, and though my heart condition still causes severe fatigue, I’ve found ways to work through it without costing a night of sleep by taking brief naps in the afternoons. Also, I’ve had to put my life on pause yet again because of this COVID-19 breakthrough infection, and I’m not sure when my surgeries will be rescheduled, but this is the circumstance I’m now in. If you’re as high-risk as me and catch COVID-19, it’s my hope that if you were vaccinated, the shots will protect you and do their job. Stay safe out there, the pandemic isn’t over and there are dangerous variants of COVID-19 to watch out for.

Getty image by Lubo Ivanko.