A previously healthy nurse in San Francisco shared before and after photos on Instagram showing just how much of an impact COVID-19 can have on the body — and to prove the coronavirus poses a serious risk to more than just the “sick and elderly.”
Mike Schultz had been traveling earlier in March with his boyfriend, before states started putting stricter COVID-19 restrictions in place. Schultz told BuzzFeed News he was admitted to the hospital on March 16 after his symptoms went from mild to a fever of 103°F. He was put on oxygen right away and then prepared for intubation. He was intubated for more than four weeks, he said.
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Once Schultz was off the ventilator, he was still exhausted and his lung capacity was greatly reduced. He said holding his cellphone felt heavy and his hands shook while trying to type.
He shared before-and-after photos to illustrate just how serious COVID-19 can be. The photo on the right was taken about a month before he was hospitalized, and the one on the left in a recovery ward. He told BuzzFeed just standing up to take the photo took a lot of effort.
I wanted to show everyone how badly being sedated for 6 weeks on a ventilator or intubated can be. Amongst other things, covid19 reduced my lung capacity with pneumonia. — Mike Schultz
Early on in the outbreak, many people dismissed COVID-19 as a mostly harmless virus. Most people believed if they got it, it would be pretty mild and easy to recover from — “only” the eldery and those with pre-existing conditions were at risk. As Schultz illustrated in his post, however, COVID-19 can affect anyone:
COVID-19 seems to cause a severe multi-system immune response in some children and teenagers that can be fatal in rare cases
A CDC report from late March found that nearly 40% of those hospitalized for COVID-19 in the U.S. were under age 55
CDC case counts suggest approximately 74% of confirmed COVID-10 cases in the U.S. are among people between age 18 and 64.
Schultz spent weeks in the hospital and he still has a ways to go on his recovery journey. He wanted to share the lasting impact COVID-19 can have on people who are otherwise considered healthy to encourage others to take the virus seriously.
“I thought I was young enough for it not to affect me, and I know a lot of people think that,” Schultz said. “I wanted to show it can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, have preexisting conditions or not. It can affect you.”