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There is a burden of fear for us all concerning COVID-19. Populations of unwell, immunocompromised individuals have a heightened sense of awareness of the life-threatening complications that are associated with this virus. It is widely known that COVID-19 can impact everyone differently, but for systemic mastocytosis (SM) patients, the effects can be powerful.

Those of us living with SM have variations in symptoms and severity. This adds an element of unrest due to the randomness of impact. When both SM and COVID-19 stake claim on your body, the effects are drastic.

For me, the symptoms of COVID-19 presented similarly to SM initially: cold sweats, exhaustion, sore throat (associated with inflammation), nausea, diarrhea, dehydration, and confusion. Only after the everyday pain became excruciating overnight did I begin to think something was awry.

Shortly thereafter, the fever set in. It continued to burn at 104 °F relentlessly for 3 days. Due to my severe allergy to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), I was only able to take acetaminophen as a means of relief.

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After receiving a positive result on my home test, it was time to get to urgent care. There, another positive test result was obtained. Immediately, concerns arose about the symptom severity I was encountering. The on-shift physician explained that there was an antiviral medication that had been helpful to those in a compromised state like me.

We discussed that my body has extreme sensitivities due to SM, as well as the possible drug interactions with my current medications. She was able to confirm no drug interaction risks and no obvious allergens. I was prescribed Paxlovid™ for a 5-day schedule. 

Over the next few days, my respiratory system began to feel the impacts of COVID-19. It felt as though my chest was locked down and could not take in deep breaths. My lungs even burned at times. My in-home pulse oximeter registered an oxygen saturation as low as 93%. I was unable to tolerate any physical activity, including walking, bathing, or speaking on the phone.

At this time, only broth was tolerable for consumption. Diarrhea, vomiting, severe pain, and shortness of breath were most debilitating. The fever finally broke. After 3 doses of the medication,  there was an improvement in my comfortability. 

Unfortunately, due to local regulations at the hospital, a stress test and ECG I had scheduled for that following week needed to be canceled. This was difficult to process as I had waited several months for those tests. Rescheduling them pushed the dates out another 4 months.

Since having recovered, there is a noticeable change in my functionality. My pain, inflammation, confusion, and breathing ability have declined since contracting COVID-19 and I have not recovered thus far.