Patient Blogs | Multiple Sclerosis
Getting Covid With MS
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Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year, right? Well, not for me. On December 19, 2021, I was diagnosed with COVID-19, just 4 days after getting my MS treatment via infusion, that suppresses my immune system. The timing couldn’t have been worse.

I was going down fast. I hadn’t felt that sick in years. I went on a failed COVID-19 test appointment hunt for 2 days all over town, looking to get tested and avoid a trip to the emergency room. Unfortunately, not one pharmacy had home tests available either. So, I had no choice but to head to the ER and get tested.

Once I informed the doctor that I had multiple sclerosis and that I received my treatment a few days before, he had the nurses swab my nose, and in a few minutes after confirming a positive result, they started an IV and gave me a monoclonal antibodies infusion, to keep my condition from worsening.

This was such a relief. Immediately I felt a lot better and was able to get through it while staying home. But now, isolation. How do I do this with a house full of hungry kids? How do I manage no contact with them and take care of them at the same time? How will I eat? They can’t cook yet, they depend on me. The dynamic of the house was turned upside down in a split second.

Thanks to my husband taking over, we survived. He went to work every day, came home three times a day to feed us, did laundry nonstop to keep the rooms sanitized daily, took care of the kids and me. He did it all. But then, the kids started to fall sick, too, one by one. Despite our efforts, everybody got infected with COVID, including my husband.

Luckily, all three kids and hubby didn’t do that bad. They all had a few mild symptoms that resolved in a few days. I, on the other hand, lost my voice, had chills down my back, felt nauseated, lost my sense of smell, had an intermittent cough, my eyes felt like they were on fire, and I had a pulsating stabbing pain on one side of my face for a full day. I attribute these last two symptoms to MS, just because they were bizarre.

Now, the aftermath of getting COVID with MS was weakness, fatigue, a scratchy throat, and a mild cough that lasted close to 2 months. I feel like in general, thanks to the monoclonal infusion, I did pretty well, given my circumstances. I had many symptoms on and off, but I didn’t feel too sick to not function, and my MS behaved pretty well during the process.

Also, it helped considerably that I had two COVID vaccines and a booster when I got infected. I didn’t end up hospitalized, which was my biggest fear.

I remember that when I did the National MS Society’s “Ask an MS Expert” series episode about COVID-19 and the vaccines, the main concern among the audience was if the vaccines were safe for people living with MS. The million-dollar question was: “If I get infected, will I make it through?”

At the moment, I had two COVID vaccines already and I was living proof that, yes, they’re safe for MSers, and that our symptoms don’t flare if we get vaccinated. Later on, I had the booster, and I did good too.

Now, I must admit that once I got COVID, and my condition started to spiral down quickly, I was a little worried. I’m convinced that the antibodies infusion they gave me saved the day. Otherwise, the story would’ve been different.

At this point, even after the COVID restrictions have been lifted, I confess that I still wear a mask and so do my kids. Although, I honestly think that we’re not getting rid of this virus any time soon, and I’m not sure how much longer I can tolerate these masks anymore.

At least we know that the virus is not as strong anymore. There are fewer people ending up in the hospital due to COVID and certainly fewer deaths. But for us, the immunosuppressed population, it’s still a concern.

After fully recovering, which by the way, took me a good 21 days to feel back to myself, I can say I was back to baseline. Of course, I had to work on getting my strength back through exercise, and that also helped to resolve the subsequent fatigue.

I also had the Evusheld shots before I traveled on an airplane for the first time in 2 years. Again, I tolerated it well. The only thing I have to mention is that my period was delayed a week or so. My menses is never late unless I’m pregnant. So, I’m not sure if it had something to do with the shots, but I’m just sharing my experience.

From the beginning of the pandemic, MS doctors reassured that people with multiple sclerosis were capable of fighting COVID as well as any other person would. There were guidelines for the MS patients that receive immunosuppressants as their treatment, but still, vaccination was recommended. MS wasn’t even listed as one of the chronic diseases to consider on the first round of vaccines administered, as a prioritized health condition.

In my case, I think that because I had taken my DMT infusion at the same time I got infected with COVID, things were worse for me. But again, my MS symptoms didn’t flare up, and I recovered in a decent period of time.

I’ve heard from some members of the MS community that have been infected multiple times and still handled it pretty well. Others had a rough time with the infection, especially in the early stages of the pandemic when the vaccines were not available yet, and the virus was more aggressive. We also have to consider that many MSers live with other chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, or cardiovascular conditions that can cause complications.

All in all, having MS doesn’t determine whether you’ll have a positive or negative outcome after a COVID infection. Yes, we’re vulnerable and yes, we should take precautionary measures. But I feel like our systems still have the necessary ammunition to fight the virus successfully.

If you get infected with COVID, I recommend that you eat healthy, stay well-hydrated, rest, watch your blood oxygenation with an oximeter, and do some cardio exercise to keep the fatigue to a minimum during and after COVID. Fingers crossed, it will be just one more bump in the road.

 

To connect with other people living with multiple sclerosis, join our MS Facebook Support Group.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Cavan Images / Cavan via Getty Images

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Mayteé Ramos

Mayteé Ramos

Diagnosed since 2015

Mayteé Ramos was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 2015. She is a support group leader for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a member of the Buddy Network for Shift.ms, and has participated in programs such as the “Ask an MS Expert” series and the PBS American Portrait project. She enjoys traveling, watching tennis, collecting jewelry, and spending time with her three sons. Connect with her here.

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