When Dunham’s symptoms first began, she said that she experienced “achy joints,” but because she was already used to dealing with chronic pain, she “didn’t freak out.”
“But the pain was soon joined by an impossible, crushing fatigue. Then, a fever of 102. Suddenly my body simply…revolted,” she continued, noting that in addition to difficulty breathing and pounding headaches, she also experienced a number of other symptoms, including numbness, difficulty sleeping and and a loss of taste and smell.
“This went on for 21 days, days that blended into each other like a rave gone wrong,” Dunham wrote. “I was lucky enough to have a doctor who could offer me regular guidance on how to care for myself and I never had to be hospitalized.”
Dunham said that she had to self-isolate for a month before she tested negative for COVID-19 and was taken aback by “how intense the loneliness had been.”
However, even after testing negative, Dunham said she continued to deal with a number of new symptoms.
“I had swollen hands and feet, an unceasing migraine and fatigue that limited my every move. Even as a chronically ill person, I had never felt this way,” she said. “The doctor determined I was suffering from clinical adrenal insufficiency – my pituitary gland had almost entirely ceased to function – as well as ‘status migrainosus’ (in human terms, a migraine that just won’t stop).”
“My arthritis flared and required an immune-modulator drug that is hard on my body. And there are weirder symptoms that I’ll keep to myself,” she added. “Doctors don’t yet know enough about COVID-19 to be able to tell me why exactly my body responded this way or what my recovery will look like.”
Despite the severity of her symptoms, Dunham went on to acknowledge how fortunate she was to have access to “exceptional" health care as well as a “flexible job where I can ask for the support I need to perform.”
“Not everybody has such luck, and I am posting this because of those people,” she added.
“The serious long-term health consequences of a COVID-19 infection are something doctors are learning more about every hour. We have never moved this fast in medicine – we’ve never had to – and experts are doing some incredible work with containment and prevention. But we don’t yet understand the long term impact of this illness on people’s bodies and minds,” she continued, as she urged her followers to take the health crisis seriously.
“This isn’t like passing the flu to your coworker,” she wrote. “This is the biggest deal in our country, and in the world right now.”
“When you take the appropriate measures to protect yourself and your neighbors, you save them a world of pain. You save them a journey that nobody deserves to take, with a million outcomes we don’t yet understand, and a million people with carrying resources and varying levels of support who are not ready for this tidal wave to take them,” she added. “It is critical we are all sensible and compassionate at this time…because, there is truly no other choice.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.
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