Four survivors describe their experiences with coronavirus and the debilitating symptoms that persisted for weeks on end

Dwayne Pereira, 34
In the early days of his COVID-19 infection, Dwayne Pereira seen here in midtown Toronto on July 15, 2020 was alone in his Toronto apartment and struggling with shortness of breath. He slept next to his phone in case he needed to call an ambulance.
Galit Rodan
Dwayne Pereira, a change-and-training manager at Plan International Canada, used to work out two or three times a week before he fell ill with symptoms of COVID-19 in the third week of March. His illness started with a dry cough, fatigue and a burning in his chest. In the early days, alone in his Toronto apartment and struggling with shortness of breath, he slept next to his phone in case he needed to call an ambulance. He was never able to get tested because he did not meet Ontarios criteria at the time. He hadnt travelled and he wasnt sick enough to be admitted to hospital.
For weeks, Mr. Pereira worked from home through debilitating fatigue and a relentless cough. At the six-week mark, his symptoms morphed into a deep ache in his chest and back. Its lonely because people dont understand, said Mr. Pereira, who has finally begun to feel better. Unless people catch this and I hope they dont theyre not going to understand that theres no comparison to any other disease.
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Heather Colton, 25
Belleville, Ont.
Heather Colton, a supervisor at a fast-food restaurant, was hit hard in March, with full body aches, fever, shortness of breath, sweats and chills that made her teeth chatter. Her son, now almost 3, and her fiancé got sick, too.
At one point, thinking she felt better, Ms. Colton tried to pick up some of her sons toys and couldnt catch her breath. The disease came and went that way for weeks, surprising her with horrible chest pains, swollen lymph nodes or muscle aches that sent her back to bed.
During a visit to the emergency department on March 29, Ms. Colton had a lung scan that showed the beginnings of bilateral pneumonia, along with areas of ground-glass opacity that are telltale signs of COVID-19. Still, she didnt qualify for a test at the time. I called the health unit six different times, Ms. Colton said. I was assessed each time and I met every single criteria, except for the travelling, not being a health care worker and I hadnt been hospitalized.
Kevin Mundy, 42
Kevin Mundy, a COVID-19 survivor, in Vancouver on July 15, 2020. He says his fatigue was bone-deep; at times he couldnt rise from his bed or summon the energy to focus on anything.
DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail
Kevin Mundy, an actor, said he was in the best shape of his life when he caught the coronavirus at a mid-March funeral attended by two guests from Washington state who later tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Mr. Mundy tested positive himself in the third week of May, after having received a negative result in April. So nine weeks after my first symptom, I still had so many virus particles in my body that I tested positive, he said.
Mr. Mundys symptoms came in waves, first affecting his lungs, then his heart, then his brain and nervous system. His fatigue was bone-deep; at times he couldnt rise from his bed or summon the energy to focus on anything. It wasnt until day 95 of his illness that he was well enough to start taking 45-minute walks.
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I was super healthy, no comorbidities, Mr. Mundy said of his life before COVID-19, and this thing kicked me in my teeth for months.
Carrie Gambill, 49
Abbotsford, B.C.
Carrie Gambill has been keeping an online diary of her COVID-19 symptoms and posting them to her Facebook page. Ribs are sore all the way around, probably from coughing. Coughing so much. All the time, she wrote on July 7, her 73rd day of feeling sick. On the upside Im hungry today. I actually feel hunger. Its been months since I felt that. Today I feel like a Smart car hit me instead of my Yukon so thats better too.
Ms. Gambill, a mother of three and a sales representative and delivery driver for an auto-parts company, started experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms around April 26, which she didnt immediately associate with COVID-19. As the weeks went on, her symptoms multiplied: She experienced neck and back pain, a cough, fever and a tightness in her chest that made her feel as though she couldnt draw breath. Although Ms. Gambill tested negative twice she didnt get her first swab until nearly a month after she first felt sick she said two doctors told her she was likely infected, based on her constellation of symptoms.
I expected Id be better in a couple weeks, Ms. Gambill said in an interview. I really did not have a clue that it could last longer than that.
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