CNN Newsroom host Brooke Baldwin has been documenting her experience with COVID-19 on her Instagram page, at least in the moments she felt well enough to do so. Her latest post linked to a new CNN essay she wrote about battling the virus.
“I thought, ‘Do I show everyone these photos of me taken at my WORST?’ Yes. Yes I do. I want you to see the unvarnished version ... but also that it’s oh-so-possible to beat this,” she captioned the image linking to the essay.
In the essay, Baldwin writes extensively about the symptoms she endured. “I can remember the day before I lost my ability to taste or smell. I kept smelling the acrid ammonia-like odor of jewelry cleaner. Except there wasn't any jewelry cleaner in sight,” she writes.
“By the next morning — wham — I couldn't taste the salted butter on my toast, and couldn't catch a whiff of the peppermint in my tea. Along with my appetite, my energy was also zapped. I slept easily 10-12 hours at night, waking many mornings soaking wet having sweat through the sheets. A golf-ball-sized gland swelling under my jaw became the daily sign that my body was fighting.”
She writes that for the next two weeks she endured fever, chills and body aches so painful she would soak in the bathtub “just to try to use the hot water to distract my skin from the all-encompassing ache.”
Baldwin says she never felt the respiratory effects that have sent so many to the hospital, writing, “Even though my body constantly gave me the middle finger, my lungs did not. I know hospitals are overwhelmed with patients — and nurses and doctors have been working tirelessly doing hero's work. I am glad I did not add to their stress.”
Baldwin also touched on one of the more unexpected side effects of the virus: loneliness. “I went to some very dark places, especially at night,” she writes, sharing that for the first few days of her illness she and her husband stayed in different bedrooms and used separate bathrooms. “He did his best to bring me soup, toast and tea, without making too much contact. The food didn't matter much to me because I couldn't taste or smell anything anyway.”
Eventually, though, she says her husband couldn’t watch her suffer alone anymore and came to join her; he has yet to show any symptoms of the virus. “After days of trying to stay physically apart from my husband, it just became impossible. He hated to see me suffer and he couldn't not take care of me. He began to hold me in those darker moments and let me cry, whispering: ‘Everything's going to be all right,’” she writes.
“These simple acts of connecting with me and hugging me were restorative beyond measure. The isolation might be worse than the body aches. I am endlessly grateful that I have a selfless husband who is also lucky enough to have remained well while I was ailing. Get him one of those antibody tests because so far <<knock on wood>> the man has yet to get sick.”
Baldwin says she is now feeling better, and that her sense of taste and smell are slowly returning. She also writes that while she wouldn’t wish the virus on anyone she found that, “When I was sick and my body came to a screeching halt, I stopped doing and started really feeling. I found myself thinking about joy (‘Why don't I go to the beach way more often?!’); about my work (‘I really would like to create a TV series helping empower women’); about my mother (‘Mom, go get on that treadmill that has been collecting dust in your basement! I need you around a lot longer.’ And dammit, she finally did); and about the beautiful interdependence of my marriage (‘See how good it feels to let him take care of you — let him do this more. You don't always have to be so damn independent and self-reliant.’) In the quiet of my quarantine, I was able to more purely isolate my gratitude and my values.”
Baldwin is hoping to return to work on April 27.