Brain Lesions and Covid

Twelve weeks after testing positive for Covid-19, I was still suffering headaches, loss of smell and taste, and signs of brain fog and memory loss. My neurologist had scheduled a MRI of my brain with and without contrast. I knew that there were post-Covid infection patients, like myself, who had changes to their brains as a result of the infection. Maybe I was overly optimistic, but I was hopeful that I would have a clear scan and could start increasing my activity or finally start moving on from life as a “Covid patient”.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. My MRI does show white brain matter lesions. These lesions are consistent with memory loss and are most often seen in patients ages 60-80 struggling with the various stages of dementia. The MRI uses the word “chronic” which leads me to believe they probably aren’t going anywhere. I am not sure if I will get more or if they will get better.

I should have messaged my doctor since the results just came in to my patient portal. Instead, I decided to enjoy my Friday and my weekend. The MRI, and its results, are there. Now that he has all of the bloodwork and scans back, it is time to discuss what this means for me long term – not that anyone really knows. I will likely message him on Monday, but Thanksgiving is looming and it would be nice to just enjoy my holiday. Like I said, the lesions are there, nothing changes that over the next several days.

There have been a number of studies and articles emerging in regards to brain changes as a result of Covid infection. The scary part is that the changes to brain matter do not seem tied to the severity of the patient’s illness. You would assume the people in comas and on respirators would show the most intense changes, but that is not the case. Patients with mild symptoms are also showing brain matter changes several months after contracting the virus.

The real question will be – can the brain heal? Since this is a brand new virus, no one knows how we will respond in the long term. I do not know if that white matter will eventually disappear or if it will become worse. I don’t know how this will impact my life in the days, months and years ahead. That is daunting to think about, and perhaps why I am avoiding speaking to my doctor – sometimes ignorance is bliss.

For more information on how Covid is impacting patients’ brains, The Medium has an easy to read article full of information directly related to brain function and Covid-19: https://medium.com/microbial-instincts/first-data-that-brain-changes-and-neurological-signs-persist-in-covid-19-4e204554c85b

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