Arizona coronavirus patient, 23, goes viral after detailing illness

A young coronavirus patient is going viral after he opened up about his experience with COVID-19, warning others that the virus is “no joke.”

Riley Behrens, of Arizona, detailed his experience in a viral Twitter thread Sunday, saying he suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA) due to complications related to the novel virus. 

“Earlier today, I was diagnosed as having suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), or what's commonly known as a mini-stroke. I'm 23 years old and I just had a stroke due to Covid-19 complications,” he began. “Not taking this pandemic seriously? Keep reading.

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“I've done a moderate (but admittedly, not perfect) job of following local health guidelines. I wore a mask in public, social distanced while I was around others, and almost always ordered groceries for delivery or curbside pickup. Despite this, I was exposed and got sick,” he continued. 

As of Nov. 29, the man was hospitalized due to COVID-19; he was exposed to the virus after spending time with someone who went to a wedding, though he didn’t know they had “until it was too late.” 

“Covid-19 is no joke,” he wrote. “It's a life-threatening virus that affects everyone so differently that there's no way to predict how your body will respond.” 

Behrens said he went to the hospital over the weekend after “experiencing sudden weakness in the left side of my body, dizziness, and spotty vision. I'd had chest pain and headaches for a few days prior, but those were written off as mild COVID-19 symptoms,” he said, noting his primary care physician encouraged him to go to the emergency room. 

“I went from feeling mild symptoms to full hospitalization in less than 48 hours. My O2 levels dropped, so I was given supplemental oxygen and steroid pills. After 24 hours of constant treatment, they've returned to normal,” he continued. 

“Over the last two days, I've been given injections in my stomach and taken more pills than I can count, while other medication was injected into my IV. I've had MRIs of my brain, CT scans, X-rays - all to determine the level of lung and brain damage,” he added. 

Before his experience with COVID-19, Behrens said he was a “healthy, young athlete with no major medical conditions. Now, I'm being told I will likely never return to contact sports because of lasting lung and brain damage. The risk for a second stroke will always be there, and another head injury could be fatal.” 

Behrens, who noted that his recovery will likely “involve weeks, if not months of both physical and occupational therapy as well as continuous follow-up with my neurologist,” concluded by urging others to “please take this pandemic seriously.” 

“Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Social distance. Limit travel. Follow [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines. I never thought that I would be affected this way, but here we are. Don't let yourself be next.” 

The novel coronavirus has been linked to several neurological conditions, with one study from July identifying those conditions as stroke, delirium, nerve damage and a rare inflammatory brain condition that can be fatal. 

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