‘Suddenly my body 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’
In a lengthy post on Instagram, the Girls creator said she is sharing her experience “in the hopes that personal stories allow us to see the humanity in what can feel like abstract situations”.
Dunham – who lives with Ehler-Danlos syndrome, and who had a hysterectomy at the age of 31 after suffering with endometriosis for years – asserted that “in some odd sense, I feel blessed to have entered this experience as a ‘sick’ person; otherwise I don’t know how I would have tolerated crossing that threshold from well to unwell”.
The writer revealed that she first got sick with COVID-19 in mid-March, explaining that her symptoms began with “achy joints”, before she was overtaken by “an impossible, crushing fatigue” and a “fever of 102” degrees Fahrenheit.
Dunham continued: “Suddenly my body revolted. The nerves in my feet burned and muscles wouldn’t seem to do their job. My hands were numb. I couldn’t tolerate loud noises. I couldn’t sleep but I couldn’t wake up. I lost my sense of taste and smell.”
Her symptoms also included, “A hacking cough, like a metronome keeping time. Inability to breathe after simple tasks like getting a glass of water. Random red rashes. A pounding headache right between my eyes.”
Dunham said this “went on for 21 days”, adding that although she tested negative for coronavirus after a month, she didn’t lose all of her symptoms. “I had swollen hands and feet, an unceasing migraine, and fatigue that limited my every move. Even as a chronically ill person, I had never felt this way.”
“To be clear, 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.”
As well as acknowledging her “privilege” to healthcare, and the fact that she has a “flexible job where I can ask for the support I need to perform”, Dunham urged her followers to “take the appropriate measures to protect yourself and your neighbours”.
She concludes: “It is critical we are all sensible and compassionate at this time… because, there is truly no other choice.”
At the beginning of lockdown, Dunham started publishing a novel via Vogue, sharing a new chapter each day. Called Verified Strangers, the book asked readers to choose what happens next. You can read the novel here.