For 22 days this spring, all Asante Haughton could do was sleep, eat, and go to the washroom.
“I’ve never been so sick in my entire life,” said the downtown Toronto resident, who believes he contracted COVID-19 just a few weeks after the start of the first provincial lockdown in March.
Haughton, a youth mental health worker, thinks he got the virus from a colleague, whom he said was mostly asymptomatic except for losing their sense of smell for a day or two.
A healthy, athletic 35-year-old, Haughton said it all started for him with a debilitating four-day migraine that began April 4.
“It just went downhill after that,” said Haughton, who didn’t experience the typical cough and shortness of breath symptoms many get and as a result was never tested for the respiratory illness.
Instead, he said COVID-19 manifested for him as the worst fatigue he ever experienced in his whole life.
“There was a point when I felt I was actually dying. One night, I blacked out and couldn’t even call out to my wife,” he shared.
Other strange symptoms included losing hearing in his right ear for almost a week.
Haughton, who said he only started feeling somewhat better April 25, said he also got itchy and burning hands that caused his skin to peel off.
“I had burn scars on the back of both hands for about six weeks,” he said.
Eight months later, Haughton said he’s no longer experiencing any acute symptoms, but said he still has some lingering effects of the virus.
“I’ve been dealing with dizziness and vertigo daily ever since. … I’ve kind of lost hope I’ll ever be 100 per cent again,” he said, adding the symptoms he now experiences sometimes make it difficult for him to focus on the tasks at hand, to simply get through the day.
“It’s definitely taken a toll on my mental health and well-being. … My quality of life has 100 per cent changed,” he admitted.
Haughton, who has worked from home since March, said COVID-19 is real and can strike anyone.
“For anyone who thinks this is a hoax, I say that’s absolutely ridiculous,” he told Toronto.com.
“Everyone needs to take precautions. … I urge people to not get lax because even if there is a vaccine, we can’t 100 per cent ensure it’ll work.”
Despite everything he went through and continues to deal with, Haughton said having COVID-19 has changed his mindset for the better.
“I’m focusing on my goals and not procrastinating. I want to do something meaningful to help others and be a better person,” said Haughton, who is also a motivational speaker and human rights advocate.
“It’s a lasting change for me.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Toronto has seen almost 55,000 cases of COVID-19. As of Dec. 23, 1,810 people have died from the virus in our city.