After contracting COVID-19, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin says she suffered through weeks of ‘all-encompassing’ aches and ‘relentless’ pain that left her frightened and alone.
“It took a full two-week beating on my body,” wrote CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, 40, at the start of her Apr. 9 essay detailing her personal battle with coronavirus. Brooke revealed at the beginning of the month that she tested positive for COVID-19, and in the days following, the sickness took her to “some very dark places, especially at night. Evenings would bring on an eerie melancholy, which was particularly odd for me — a glass-half-full/chemically blessed kind of gal. But under the influence of coronavirus, as each day came to a close, I would often cry, unable to stave off the sense of dread and isolation I felt about what was to come.”
Brooke was constantly in pain. “I started a habit of climbing into the bathtub for 45 to 60 minutes just to try to use the hot water to distract my skin from the all-encompassing ache that would begin in my lower extremities — the kind of ache that only two extra-strength Tylenol could eventually dull,” she wrote. “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 said that when she lost her sense of taste, she also lost her energy for life. She “slept easily 10-12 hours at night, waking many mornings soaking wet” from sweat. “A golf-ball sized gland swelling under my jaw became the daily sign that my body was fighting.”
“Over two weeks, the fever, chills, and aches would sometimes leave just long enough to fool me into thinking I was finally recovering. Then they would revisit me with a vengeance. I never knew when it would end. It was relentless, scary, and lonely,” wrote Brooke. She said that social isolation was just as painful. She was separated from her husband, James Fletcher, during her struggles, but he eventually broke the quarantine to hold her in these dark moments and reassure her that everything was going to be all right.
“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.” On top of all this, Brook counts herself among “one of the lucky ones,” since her coronavirus infection didn’t travel to her lungs. Though she went through weeks of agony, she “never struggled to breathe.”
Ultimately, she says the experience gave her a sense of clarity on “being quiet and [to listen] to our feelings,” and how vital it is to connect with people. Not just with my husband, but with my community, my friends, and extended family. I heard from thousands of you. Everyone from my parents, brother, aunts, current journalism colleagues, CNN boss, former boyfriends, old coworkers from every job I’ve ever had, my dentist, friends I haven’t spoken with since college and yes, even DJ Jazzy Jeff (who’d survived a nasty dose of COVID-19 and messaged me: ‘So all the prayers that people sent out for me, I’m sending all your way.’)” She also thanked all the thousands of fans who sent her love during this time.
“It was overwhelming in a way I have never felt in my life. And it showed me how — even when the world stops and takes a collective breath — we’re all capable of showing up for one another. And for that, I will forever be grateful.”