Her COVID Tests Were All Negative—Perplexingly

The timing and symptoms were right, but Emma Zimmerman lacks proof of COVID
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2022 5:20 PM CDT
Updated Jul 24, 2022 9:03 PM CDT
Her Health Is in the Toilet. Yet Every COVID Test Was Negative
   (Getty Images / Michele Ursi)

"Currently, no days are good days" for Emma Zimmerman. As the 26-year-old writes for HuffPost, she wakes to a migraine frequently; half her body is numb; she trudges more than walks. "On these days, I cannot shake the thought that something alien lingers inside me." She's talking about COVID, but getting to that point—a diagnosis, or something close to it—was a nearly herculean effort. That she was suffering from COVID seemed logical. In March 2022, Zimmerman had two days of light symptoms, but rapid tests returned negative results. Soon after, her roommate in Brooklyn had a confirmed case, and Zimmerman's symptoms—headache, sore throat—returned. For a week her own tests came back negative. Then the nightmare started.

About a week later the first migraine hit. Zimmerman, who was vaccinated and boosted, went from running 50 miles a week to struggling to walk a couple of blocks. She slept 12 hours a day and was exhausted. "My vision blurred. My brain heaved." All the tests came back negative: not Lyme, lupus, vitamin deficiency, mono. "I had a high COVID antibody count, but only from the spike protein, which is indistinguishable between vaccine and infection. Still, I could not shake the timeline of this illness. The knowledge that one week, I was a healthy 26-year-old woman and the next, I was exposed to COVID and developed lingering, disparate symptoms." She saw a neurologist, a rheumatologist, had an MRI. It was months before she was told she was likely suffering from long COVID. (Read her full piece for much more on her current struggles.)

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