The news anchor said he endured a feverish, sleepless night Friday, unable to move for 12 hours, and intended not to return to work Monday. “I was just soaked and scared,” he said. “And then I got a call from a friend of a friend of a friend,” who is a doctor and pulmonary expert.
The doctor told him to get up, stretch his torso (despite the discomfort), and try to hold his breath for 10 seconds (although he felt unable to do so). Then the physician shared crucial advice to fight back against the disease, Cuomo said.
“He said ‘I saw your X-rays, it’s in your lungs.’ And you got the right fear and you got the wrong approach. You can’t wait it out. He said you have to fight. And not in some silly metaphorical way ... You’ve got to do the things that will beat this virus. You’ve got to breathe deep when it hurts.”
“When you get a fever spike, and that hurts, he said you can’t take confidence that it’s going to go down ... ‘You’ve got to layer up, you’ve got to drink, you’ve gotta take Tylenol, and you’ve gotta fight back. You’ve gotta make that fever go down any way you can.’”
Cuomo revealed that he has an IgM deficiency, a rare immune disorder that makes him more susceptible to infections.
The virus is “banking on you doing nothing,” Cuomo said. “Your indolence, as the doctors call it. It wants us passive, on our backs.”
Earlier in the program, Cuomo and CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reviewed X-rays of his lungs that showed some infiltrate, which Gupta explained was a collection of inflammatory fluid and an indicator of a respiratory infection. Still, he said Cuomo’s lungs were looking “pretty good” and he would not diagnose him with pneumonia.
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) April 7, 2020
Cuomo explained that without a proper understanding of what he was seeing, he was initially “in a panic” about the scans.
“It is scary to have your lungs go up there and see this stuff and be like ‘What is that? What is that smoke in there?’ And they tell you yeah, it’s the virus. It’s in there.”
Knowing he has evidence of infection in his lungs, Cuomo said he tries to lie on his side and on his stomach when he can, and attempts to get up and breathe actively in an effort to avoid needing hospitalization.
Other doctors, including Gupta, have said performing breathing exercises if advised to do so by your doctor can have positive effects fighting the respiratory infection.
Cuomo said he would continue to share his recovery story in hopes that what he learns may help alleviate stress for others going through the same thing. While quarantined in the basement of his home, he has continued to anchor his show and deliver daily updates about his condition.
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