We can now add Lena Dunham to the list of celebrities who can offer up first-hand accounts of what life with COVID-19 can be like; the Girls creator posted on Instagram this weekend about her experience with the disease, noting that she was diagnosed back in March, and that “This isn’t like passing the flu to your co-worker.”
In her post, Dunham discusses what sounds like three extremely unpleasant weeks of direct symptoms of the disease, writing that, “Suddenly my body simply... revolted. The nerves in my feet burned and muscles wouldn’t seem to do their job. I couldn’t sleep but I couldn’t wake up. I lost my sense of taste and smell. A hacking cough, like a metronome keeping time. Inability to breathe after simple tasks like getting a glass of water. Random red washes. A pounding headache right between my eyes. It felt like I was a complex machine that had been unplugged and then had my wires rerouted into the wrong inputs.”
Like other celebs before her (including Bryan Cranston, Tom Hanks, and several others), Dunham wrote that she was speaking up about her experiences in order to heighten the need for people to take preventative measures to prevent the coronavirus’ spread:
I’m reluctant to share this, having rewritten and rewritten it anxiously. I don’t want to unnecessarily add my voice to a noisy landscape on such a challenging topic, as an unfathomable number of people have lost their lives to COVID-19—a phrase we didn’t even know in January.”
But seeing the carelessness with which so many in the United States are treating social distancing, people jogging without masks and parties on Instagram, I feel compelled to be honest about the impact this illness has had on me, in the hopes that personal stories allow us to see the humanity in what can feel like abstract situations.
Dunham says that after roughly 21 days of symptoms, she recovered from the initial wave of the disease’s effects, and shortly after tested negative for COVID-19. But she also says that she has plenty of symptoms that haven’t abated in the aftermath of “active” phase of the disease, and pointed out that doctors are still struggling to understand the long-term impacts of the disease. “This is the biggest deal in our country,” she closes, “And in the world right now. When you take the appropriate measures to protect yourself and your neighbors, you save them a world of pain. You save them a journey that no one deserves to take, with a million outcomes we don’t yet understand, and a million people with varying resources and varying levels of support who are not ready for this tidal wave to take them.”