Blackout: A View Into Complete Darkness

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Corona is nothing more than a kind of flu. And if you are vaccinated and boosted, it won’t be so bad if you catch it despite all the vaccinations and precautions. That’s what I thought, too. When I caught Corona, the course of disease was actually not so bad. The worst part came afterwards.

Despite all vaccinations, boosters and hygiene rules, I contracted SARS-CoV-2 b this year in April. What the alpha and delta variants had failed to do, Omikron managed to do for me. I was lucky, I thought. My course of the disease was mild. I had severe headaches, which was a completely new experience for me.

I only knew headaches from close up, never on me. As a child, I suffered with my little sister whenever she lay in a darkened room with her terrible migraine. Now, during Corona, I experienced what that felt like on my own head. I thought my brain was dancing cha-cha-cha until my head burst. On top of that, I had a sore throat and a cough. I was in bed for three days and spent the rest of the quarantine indoors, but at least I was able to get up.

In retrospect, I found that I actually got off lightly. I didn’t notice that anything had seriously changed in my body. I did get tired more quickly and slept even worse than usual – which I chalked up to stress. Then four weeks later on a Saturday something strangely frightening happened. My younger sister and brother-in-law from Berlin were visiting.

The day went comfortably and harmoniously. We were shopping together for our barbecue evening and drank espresso outside the door at my favorite little Italian store in my hometown. To give us and especially me some rest, my husband had meanwhile taken over our extremely active young dog Byron and made an extensive hike with him.

My memory was like wiped out

In the afternoon at home on our terrace it was fantastically warm. I decided to do what I had wanted to do for a long time, paint a small drawer cabinet where the garden utensils are stored. It should get the gray color of a large Indian Garuda figure, which has its regular place on it. It represents the mount of the main god Vishnu. I had already bought the paint and the necessary painting utensils last year, but it had never worked out time-wise or weather-wise. The wood of the box and drawers was quickly cleaned, my husband helped me with the sanding.

I noticed how I suddenly became dizzy and I stained my husband’s jeans with the gray paint on my brush. He was not exactly thrilled and went to clean them with a special agent. I had probably quickly picked myself up again and continued to paint. No one noticed anything, my behavior was apparently inconspicuous. But from then on, I can’t remember anything. Not how my husband said goodbye to me, he wanted to go to his company for a short while. Not how I finished the painting work. Not how I had obviously changed my dirty clothes afterwards.

A complete blackout of about two hours. I only remember sitting in front of my sister – in fresh clothes – shocked and crying, and telling her that I couldn’t remember anything that had happened in the last two hours. She asked me if I knew what day of the week it was. I answered truthfully, “Saturday.” The current memory was there, but the past hours – complete blackout, deep darkness. Was the heat to blame, or perhaps working with my head down the trigger? I have no idea what has caused the blackout.

Emptiness in the head

It is a truly horrible feeling not to know anything anymore. As if someone had pressed the delete button. This is what Alzheimer’s and dementia must feel like, I thought to myself. The view into nothingness. I racked my brain, but I could only pull out snatches of images that I didn’t even know were reality or fiction. My mind and body were so exhausted by the experience of this blackout that I froze despite the summery 28 degrees and spent the next few hours sleeping.

The next day after my blackout (almost) everything was back to normal. My brain was working, even if it felt a bit wrapped in absorbent cotton. “Brain fog” is what the medical profession calls it. Only the afternoon of the previous day has probably disappeared from my memory forever. As a journalist, I of course immediately started searching the Internet. And my research revealed that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can cause brain disorders.

The triggers are manifold, for example, inflammation, dysfunctions in cells and blood vessels or reactions of the immune system can lead to failure symptoms. It has been observed that this rebound effect can occur one to four months after recovery and manifest itself in neurological or cognitive impairments such as memory, concentration or sensory disturbances. According to Dr. Jördis Frommhold, chief physician at the Median Klinik Heiligendamm, which specializes in the rehabilitation of post-Covid sufferers, more women than men are affected. Never again do I want to experience something like that, I pray for it!

Photos @up_n_co

German

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