'Everything just hurt.' Local women describe ongoing nerve pain & issues after contracting COVID-19

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Posted at 6:28 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 18:28:53-04

(WXYZ) — They survived COVID-19, only to have to face some new disturbing after-effects of the virus. Now, some local women say the coronavirus has left them with nerve pain and other problems.

“The reality is, you mentally change a little bit, you really do,” said Ann Teschendorf.

Ann is grateful she survived two weeks of fever and difficulty breathing after catching the coronavirus back in March.

“Everything just hurt, my feet hurt – like pins and needles hurt. I felt something like neuropathy,” said Ann.

The busy mother of three and business owner from Harrison Township says she still hasn’t fully recovered her sense of smell. Ann can no longer enjoy the lilac tree in her yard.

“I said to my husband, 'I have not really smelled this tree all season and I tried hard,' and I was so bummed I could cry, I was so bummed,” said Ann through tears, as she reflected on how much her life has changed since getting COVID19. Even the simple joy of smelling her favorite latte at a coffee shop has changed.

Ann says she now has lingering numbness and nerve pain in her legs and feet, and she’s not sure how long it’s going to be an issue.

“I haven't ever experienced it until after I got sick, and it has not gone away,” said Ann.

She’s not alone.

“It was awful. I've had the flu before and I've had various other things and this was like nothing I've ever had,” said Mary.

The mother of 6 from Grosse Pointe Farms did not want her family identified, but she does want the community to know how serious this illness can be.

Mary also struggled through COVID-19 in March, during the start of the surge in Michigan. She was finally feeling better until this happened:

“About two weeks later, I woke up in the middle of the night to a kind of pain I've never had before. It started in the back of my head and radiated to my forehead, and down both my shoulders, to all ten fingers,” said Mary.

She says she tried physical therapy, but she wasn’t getting better.

“My physical therapist was noticing I was getting weaker, my range of motion was [decreasing], which was strange,” said Mary.

Mary went to a neurologist. No one is exactly sure what’s wrong, but it’s believed the coronavirus has left this normally healthy mom with nerve problems.

“I try to walk at least 30 minutes a day, I do push-ups, I do yoga. Now, if I try to go into a plank position, I completely collapse,” said Mary. “I'm very weak in my arms, especially my left arm. Getting juice out of the fridge, I have to use 2 hands to hold a cup.”

“Is it possible that down the road, we will see more chronic nerve problems that maybe aren’t presenting to the hospital right now? There’s that possibility and I think everybody’s keeping an open mind about what COVID-19 can do, because it’s new,” said Dr. Elissa Fory, a senior staff neurologist at Henry Ford Hospital.

Fory says COVID-19 has several neurological risks, from the loss of taste and smell, to strokes caused by blood clots; there’s even a risk of a rare nerve disorder.

“Guillain-Barre syndrome which is an acute problem with the nerves, where people generally become weak all over and lose their reflexes, and they do so within a matter of days to weeks,” said Dr. Fory.

Fory says treat any symptoms of muscle weakness or nerve pain seriously, whether you have obvious signs of the coronavirus or not.

Meanwhile, Ann and Mary both have a warning for you: wear your mask, stay safe, and do your best to avoid the devastation that COVID19 can bring.

“The other thing that's frustrating is seeing how people are kind of like ‘oh it is just a flu, yeah it stinks and you'll get better’ but for some people, you don't know what the virus is going to do to your body or how you're going to react,” said Mary.

Doctors are tracking these neurological side effects for patients who are hospitalized. It’s less clear how symptoms from patients like Mary and Ann, who never went to the hospital, are being recorded.

If you are having symptoms like these it’s important to make your doctor aware.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.