Lena Dunham says she had COVID-19: 'Even as a chronically ill person, I had never felt this way'

Lena Dunham says she had COVID-19. (Photo: Vince Bucci/Getty Images for Friendly House)
Lena Dunham says she had COVID-19. (Photo: Vince Bucci/Getty Images for Friendly House)

Lena Dunham revealed Friday that she’s one of the more than 4.6 million Americans who’ve contracted COVID-19. And while the Girls creator said she has since tested negative for the novel coronavirus, her symptoms have not entirely gone away.

Dunham said she debated whether to even share her experience, which began in March, because so many voices are already out there.

“But seeing the carelessness with which so many in the United States are treating social distancing, people jogging without masks and parties on Instagram,” Dunham wrote, “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.”

The 34-year-old went on to describe some of her symptoms: achy joints, crushing fatigue, numbness in her hands, a loss of taste and smell, a pounding headache, random red rashes and an inability to breathe after simple tasks.

“It felt like I was a complex machine that had been unplugged and then had my wires rerouted into the wrong inputs,” Dunham explained.

Most but not all of those symptoms subsided after 21 days. Some lingered even after the virus no longer registered on a test, about a month into the ordeal.

“I had swollen hands and feet, an unceasing migraine and fatigue that limited my every move,” said Dunham, who’s previously spoken out about suffering from endometriosis and fibromyalgia. “Even as a chronically ill person, I had never felt this way.”

Dunham’s doctor concluded that her pituitary gland, a part of the brain responsible for regulating important functions, “had almost entirely ceased to function.” She had to be treated for a flare-up of the arthritis she’s mentioned struggling with in the past.

Related: Lena Dunham pens emotional Instagram post about her body

“To be clear,” she wrote, “I did NOT have these particular issues before I got sick with this virus and doctors don’t yet know enough about COVID-19 to be able to tell me why exactly my body responded this way or what my recovery will look like.”

Dunham also acknowledged that she was more fortunate than most people are in such a situation.

“I know I am lucky,” she said. “I have amazing friends and family, exceptional healthcare and a flexible job where I can ask for the support I need to perform... BUT not everybody has such luck, and I am posting this because of those people. I wish I could hug them all.”

Dunham ended her note by pleading with others to be both sensible and compassionate and take appropriate measures to protect themselves and their neighbors.

“There is truly no other choice,” she wrote.

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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