The woman who CAN’T recover from coronavirus: Byron Bay filmmaker who has tested positive to disease three times reveals how her life has been destroyed by the virus
- Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar, 35, first tested positive for COVID-19 in April
- She first noticed symptoms after returning from Germany at the end of March
- Although she was declared all free in May, she suffers bouts of extreme fatigue
- ‘It’s completely rendered me useless, I cannot function like a normal person’
A Byron Bay filmmaker who has tested positive for coronavirus three times has revealed the devastating impact the disease continues to take on her health.
Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar was first diagnosed in April after suffering mild symptoms when she returned to Australia from Germany.
More than five months on, the 35-year-old endures bouts of extreme fatigue and struggles with simple tasks such as driving.
‘It’s completely rendered me useless, I cannot function like a normal person,’ she told Yahoo News Australia.
Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar (pictured) has never fully recovered from her long-drawn three months battle with coronavirus
‘The simplest things, I can’t do anymore – it’s incredibly frustrating.’
Ms Nicholson-McKellar said she first began displaying mild symptoms on March 13, a week before landing in Brisbane from Europe.
Upon arrival, she told Border Force officials she he had no sense of smell or taste but was unable to get tested because she didn’t have a cough or a fever.
She was finally given a test towards the end of her time in 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine, which came back positive.
The movie-maker went into self-isolation for six weeks and experienced a host of symptoms including aches and pains, sinus infections, severe headaches, diarrhoea, nausea, chest pain and shortness of breath.
She was declared free of the virus on April 24, but was rushed into the emergency department four days later when she began experiencing severe chest pain while working on her computer at home.
A second test returned positive, and she was given Panadol and sent back into home quarantine.
The 35-year-old first began displaying mild symptoms on March 13, a week before landing in Brisbane from Europe
However, X-rays taken in hospital revealed her lungs looked foggy and abnormal and her case was referred to an infectious disease specialist who tested her again two weeks later.
In mid-May, two months after first experiencing symptoms, she received her third positive result.
The swabs were sent for further analysis, and Ms Nicholson-McKellar, who by that stage was nearing almost 60 days in self-isolation, was fortunately declared not contagious.
Ms Nicholson-McKellar said she was frustrated and worried with medical advice she had received, as doctors still don’t know a lot about the disease and how long her recovery will be.
‘One of the most challenging things about this illness, apart from its severity and length, is that there’s so much that we don’t know about it and so it’s a really vulnerable place to be,’ Ms Nicholson-McKellar previously told 7.30.
Ms Nicholson-McKellar kept an extensive Instagram diary of her battle with COVID-19, posting regular updates of her condition and symptoms.
On day 22 she wrote: ‘I’m just sick of being sick’.
Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar has tested positive for coronavirus three times in just over two months. Pictured: Ms Nicholson-McKellar in hospital before being diagnosed for the second time
On day 48 she reported that it felt like someone was pushing ‘really hard’ on her chest and that she had ‘stabbing pains in my ribs’.
Data from NSW Health states that 50 per cent of coronavirus patients recover in 16 days, with 75 per cent of people beating the virus after 23 days.
From the test pool of 3,000 patients, 95 per cent of people were over the virus after 6 weeks.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young on Saturday shared a video message via social media warning that some patients do not completely recover from COVID-19.
‘For most people COVID-19 is a mild disease, but unfortunately as we learn more about the virus, we’re learning that for a reasonable number of people, they don’t recover, they’ll have long-term consequences from the disease,’ she said.
‘That’s because this virus doesn’t just affect the lungs, unlike flu this virus can affect every part of the body.’
Dr Young said the long-term consequences of the virus can affect the heart, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and the brain.
Ms Nicholson-McKellar posted regular updates on her condition in Instagram
She experienced more than 16 symptoms in her fight with the virus including headaches, chest pain and fatigue
Ms Nicholson-McKellar is not alone, with thousands of patients gathering in groups online to share their experiences of what appears to be post viral exhaustion.
Their symptoms share similarities with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.
Professor Axel Kallies, an infectious disease expert at Melbourne’s Doherty Institute, this week was part of a team that published a paper investigating the potential cause of long term effects seen in coronavirus patients.
Their research showed that T cells (which work to attack disease cells) can become impaired within a few days, and appear to be exhausted in those who with ongoing health ramifications.
Ms Nicholson-McKellar said she struggles to drive longer than 20 minutes on bad days.
When her symptoms are at their worst, she goes through days and weeks where she can never imagine being ‘normal’ again.
‘It’s such a slow grind coming out of this. I have no trajectory, no guidelines about when or if I will be well again,’ she said.
Ms Nicholson-McKellar is desperate to kick the virus after more than two months in isolation