Woman with MS wants others to know COVID-19 is beatable

COVID-19 has everyone on edge, especially people with chronic medical conditions. Meet a mother from Ohio with multiple sclerosis, who expected the worst after testing positive for the virus.

Forty-year-old Renee English has been living with MS for nearly twenty years, so when she woke up with a pounding headache she thought it was a side effect from treatment.

"I really thought, oh my gosh, something's terrible is happening with my MS because I just had my medication," she said. 

The mother of two also developed a fever, sore throat and ear pain.

"It was like strep on steroids and I felt at the same time, the ear pain, it just was piercing. It was horrible."

Renee's doctor sent her to Cleveland Clinic's COVID-19 drive-through test site. And then she got the call she'll never forget.

"She said, well, you're not feeling well because you did test positive for COVID-19. I immediately couldn't speak. I was in tears."

Renee's MS also began to flare with numbness in her face and hands, which doctors say is common when someone with MS has a fever.

"I went over her MS symptoms with her and explained that she was not experiencing an MS relapse but the coinciding infection with COVID-19 was increasing her MS symptoms," said PA Shauna Gales with Cleveland Clinic. 

With her fever in a safe place and no trouble breathing, Renee recovered at home taking acetaminophen, drinking plenty of fluids and getting lots of rest.

"It was a solid two weeks before I felt like myself again. And then I would say it was another whole week after that before I stopped being so incredibly tired."

Renee's recovery hasn't been a slam dunk. She lost her sense of taste and smell, and has lingering numbness in her face and hands. But she wants others to know COVID-19 is beatable. 

"I would say to most people who are, you know, if you're healthy and active and you get it you're going to be okay. I'm living proof you know, I have MS and I was terrified. My first thought was, 'oh my god, I'm going to be on a ventilator, I'm not going to survive this.' And I think those of us who survive need to do everyone a service by coming out and saying, you know, you can survive."

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, having MS does not increase your risk of getting COVID-19. However, if you notice new MS symptoms or are concerned about your risk, call your doctor.