Pink on having Coronavirus: I woke up and couldn’t breathe

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A week ago, Pink shared on Instagram that she and her son, Jameson, had contracted COVID-19. Fortunately, they are both negative for the virus now. Pink has been talking about her experience being sick, and about how frightened she was for Jameson too. On Thursday, Ellen posted to her Youtube channel a chat with Pink (linked below), during which the singer went into more detail about the timeline of Jameson’s and her illnesses, and was near tears a few times.

E! recapped their chat:

The singer tells The Ellen DeGeneres Show the illness struck their home in mid-March, just as the coronavirus began to shut down schools and other public spaces. Her son was the first to come down with the sickness and his symptoms “were all over the place.” She says they consulted their doctor who told them “just to stay home.”

Then she began to exhibit symptoms, but was unaware it might be from the virus. “I never had what they tell you to look for.” She explains, “At a certain point around March 18, March 19, March 20, when his fever was staying and going up. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t breath[e].”

Her breathing became so difficult, she required the use of a nebulizer—a medical device that turns medicine into a mist one can inhale—”for the first time in 30 years.” In addition, Pink says she “couldn’t function without” the use of her rescue inhaler. “That’s when I started to get really scared,” the 40-year-old shares.

Their family then received news they could get a test, but only one person could take it, so she got it done. A week later, the results came back positive, although Pink said she already “knew” what the answer would be.

Things took a turn for the worst when her 3-year-old son began to throw up, complain of “chest pains” and had difficulty breathing. She recalls, “That[']s the point where you are just kind of like, ok are we going to the hospital? Like what are we doing right now? Because this is the scariest thing I’ve ever ever been through in my whole life.”

Ultimately, Pink says they “had to ride it out.”

[From E! Online]

Listening to Pink detail how the illness progressed for both her and for Jameson was heartbreaking and scary. She’s clearly relieved that both she and Jameson are doing better, but she’s still experiencing the trauma of it. She said to Ellen at one point that she wondered, with “all of the crazy stuff” that she’d done in her life, whether this virus was going to kill her.

I thought it was smart that she acknowledged her privilege: She said that people were angry that she was able to get a test, and she agreed that they should be angry, though with the healthcare system, not with her. She’s right, of course: If anybody is experiencing symptoms and they have access to a test, they’re going to take it. I am assuming that the reason she didn’t get Jameson tested instead was because by that point, he’d been sicker longer and, even though his symptoms were wide-ranging, they knew that he had COVID-19.

She and Ellen ended the chat by talking about her haircut (I’m still not used to seeing her with her natural hair color!) and Ellen also mentioned that Pink donated $500,000 to a hospital in Philadelphia [Temple University Hospital] to help the hospital’s coronavirus-relief efforts. As Pink wrote in her Instagram post, she told Ellen that her mom had worked there for 18 years and that the hospital doesn’t “have a lot of resources or ways to have donations like that.” (She also donated the same amount of money to the City of Los Angeles’ Mayor’s Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund.)

This crisis is laying bare not just the inequity between people’s access to necessities like adequate healthcare, but also the lack of access that many of these institutions experience. I think most of us assume that if we go to the hospital, the staff will have what they need on hand to help us get healthy again (or to provide palliative care). It’s scary to be confronted with the fact that that’s not the case anywhere, and that many hospitals are worse off than others.

I hope that Pink and Jameson are feeling 100% soon, and I also hope that Pink doesn’t force herself to keep reliving the trauma by talking about it if she feels like it’s getting too overwhelming. Obviously, everybody is glad that she and Jameson are doing better and recognizes that that’s the most important part of her story. At the same time, we all want to hear her story because most of us have no idea what it is like to experience COVID-19 directly. We want to have some understanding of it, just in case. But it’s clear that the past several weeks have taken their toll, so I hope she’s taking care of herself, too.

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22 Responses to “Pink on having Coronavirus: I woke up and couldn’t breathe”

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  1. Rmcgrudiva says:

    I’m so glad that people are beginning to share their experiences with Covid19. Check out Tarana Burke’s twitter thread if you can; she gives a timeline of what her partner went through, and like Pink, some of the symptoms are different than what’s been discussed.

    • lucy2 says:

      Wow, that was a scary read.
      I had that burning skin but no fever feeling maybe 2 weeks ago now, it is really freaky. I’m pretty sure mine was from a prolonged anxiety attack though, but who knows.

    • echo says:

      I got sick with H1N1 in 2009. I remember being in an isolation ICU unit& only being able to see my parents for a 2 hour window. I was put on oxygen, and not till years later did my parents say the drs almost had me intubated….Ill never forget the fear & the tears welling up when I asked my dad if I was going to die. a girl who was 22 had died a month earlier from organ failure bc of H1N1, same hospital. I thankfully recovered, but Ill never forget the callousness my university was regarding ppl still recovering from the widespread sickness. obviously, it isnt on the level of covid at all…the fatality level, infectiousness, etc.

      but I hope ppl that get sick that are still in school get better than I was treated (at age 21). they threatened to fail me while I was in the ICU. I still look at greedy universities w/unsympathetic registrars, counselors, etc. and think, somethings gotta give. it was a decade ago…lets hope ppl get more support. I ended up not being able to graduate for several years because of my breathing & lung recovery. it pisses me off hearing how ppl and schools etc are acting like things can get back to normal in a few months. they didnt when I was sick, and they wont now.

      a lot of magical thinking going around. i see studios pushing back movie release dates till the fall….ppl are crazy if they think life will go back to normal by autumn & ppl will be packing theatres, bars, etc. absolute ridiculousness.

      • AppleTartin says:

        if there is no viable treatment or vaccine by the fall. We will be hit with a second wave of this. Which experts are predicting will be worse. Life isn’t going to be normal for a long, long time.

  2. Esmom says:

    Yikes, sounds so scary and her son’s symptoms sounded just like my son’s severe pneumonia. I’m glad they are on the mend. I fear we are nowhere near the end of this pandemic. I just hope too many people don’t get impatient to try to get back to “normal” and kill even more of us.

  3. manda says:

    Her husband was on one of those reality shows in the early 00′s, and he was such a nice and down to earth guy. Not really sure how he got roped into the reality show. Their marriage seems pretty good

  4. Joanna says:

    I’m so worried that I’m going to get it. I work at a bank and still have to see customers. We are trying to do most things over the phone but for things like opening n account or sending a wire, we have to see them in person. Our boss had to take his daughter for a test, someone at her daycare was exposed. But he is still working while waiting for the test to come back. That scares me too. We are having so many applications for the SBA assistance loans that our regional manager is being set up at home to help w processing them! Scary times right now

    • Hoot says:

      Joanna- I used the drive-thru at my bank yesterday wearing gloves (and mask) when handling the “tube.” I was surprised to see the tellers at the window ungloved. I thanked them for being there for their customers, but I didn’t feel I was my place to question them. I thought maybe they use hand sanitizer after touching the tubes (handled by hundreds of customers each week) and their contents, but their hands would be raw by the end of each day. Hoping your immune system stays strong and keeps you safe.

      Re: Pink and her son… how very frightening that had to be for them both. I’ve experienced pulmonary blood clots and know how it feels to have impaired breathing with chest pain. I also fought with an ER doc to get additional testing done when my son had pneumonia at 14 y.o. (they told me he didn’t). Fortunately, we had an extra inhaler around. Being alive and unable to get enough oxygen to breathe is one of the scariest feelings.

  5. Anony83 says:

    My only mild disagreement is that right now, if you’re not seriously ill, even if you have access to a test, getting tested probably isn’t worth it.

    I had mild symptoms of Covid for a week to ten days – felt crappy and tired, couldn’t breathe well, coughing, etc. Checking in with my PCP and Infectious Disease doctor (because I’m quite high risk … and yes already HAD an infectious disease doctor), the advice early on was basically “assume you have it, come in if you have these symptoms, otherwise stay home” because the risk of going out and getting tested and exposing myself to people who might also have colds, flu, or pneumonia right now wasn’t worth it. Especially if I DIDN’T have it.

    Last week when I emailed my ID doc to let her know I was doing better, she said they do have ambulatory tests available at my hospital now if I wanted one. But we are literally about to hit peak this weekend, I thought going in and taking up people’s time because I was curious seemed like a bad idea. I’ll just be curious when the antibody test comes out to find out if I had it!

    • Veronica says:

      My concern is that from a medical study perspective, the fact that we aren’t testing across the board – including bodies of people that died before a diagnosis was made – means that any data we have from this pandemic event is going to be extremely limited in use for planning for future ones. It means both our infection rate and body count numbers are off, which means we don’t have a full picture of how this thing moved through the population and it’s major effect.

      For instance, I can guarantee that this thing was moving through the population by December and January due to the delay in China reporting it to the WHO. If somebody does a retrospective study comparing respiratory illness (or specifically, pneumonia) hospitalizations and deaths over that period to previous years, I’m betting they’re going to see a spike from people who actually had COVID19. I’m hoping an antibody test does come out that is accessible and can give us a clearer image of what happened, but from a readiness perspective, we blew it on the testing. Most of the viable data we’re going to get out of this is related to the socioeconomic impact.

      • kahlia says:

        YES! Thank you! I’ve been arguing this with some of my less nerdy family members, that the numbers we see are NOT accurate because of the significant lack of testing and the former and current restrictions on who can get a test. What is reported has to be a fraction of the actual number of infections. I think the data more closely reflects the number of moderate-to-severe cases, since most with mild-to-moderate symptoms are told to stay at home and save the tests for people who need them.

  6. Anniefannie says:

    One of my besties traveled to Orlando for business in NOV and spent the next 6 weeks experiencing exactly the symptoms Pink describes. She also had an emergency inhaler from asthma condition she hadn’t needed in years. She told me she’s certain if she hadn’t had it she’d be dead. She was at the emergency room 4 times in those weeks. I don’t think we’re close to getting accurate information about when this started ( among lots of other shit)
    She’s now almost completely recovered but I don’t know what’s scarier the virus or the misinformation we’re being fed

    • tiglilly says:

      1) Genome testing is telling us when it came over and it wasn’t November/December.
      2) I work at a hospital in NYC and we definitely didn’t have the symptom/death rate we are seeing now at all, but sure, all these podunk town had people with symptoms but no massive deaths in nursing homes had it all over before New York /sarcasm.

      • Anniefannie says:

        @ Tig but if healthcare professionals weren’t aware of the virus how would they know what to test for….?
        She was told and treated for pneumonia but after her 4th trip to the emergency room the Dr. told her no in she fact was mislead and she had tested negative.
        Thank you for all you do!

      • Kkat says:

        They think California had it here before December because of all the Chinese tourists we get going to Disneyland and Hollywood.
        They are doing studies now.

    • lucy2 says:

      Was she ever tested for the flu? There were some bad flus and bronchitis going around during those times, or possibly an infection or something that they didn’t catch quickly enough?

  7. ojulia123 says:

    I work in a pediatric outpatient clinic and we’re no longer allowed to give children albuterol nebs in the office. We were told that if a person with COVID-19 uses one, it can potentially release virus particles in the air.

  8. Amanda Bennett says:

    I have asthma. This is my nightmare. Waking up and suddenly being in that position where nothing works. I’m a single mother, I don’t even know how I would get to the doctor if I needed to go. I’m scared, all of the time.

    • Alice says:

      I feel for you and understand how you are feeling. I just found out I have asthma and am trying to figure out how to manage it. I had sudden extreme trouble breathing a few weeks ago that was terrifying and felt like I was breathing with a straw and just couldn’t get enough air. My dr thinks it was triggered by the chest infection I had prior or maybe triggered by allergies (that would also be new). He’s treating it over the phone because we can’t do the proper tests right now of course. I have a baby and toddler, my husband is working long hours away as an essential worker and we have no one nearby. I’m scared of it happening again or worse getting Covid-19 and not being able to breathe and get help. Or get help but what happens to my kids if I’m hauled off in an ambulance and there is no one able to watch them? So much worrying lately.

  9. Adrianna says:

    So because celebrities are able to get a test and they have money, they shouldn’t be able to get a test? Sorry, but their lives count too. The problem lies with the health care system if there aren’t enough tests to go around.

  10. Jackson says:

    I’m so glad she’s feeling better. Nothing worse than being sick and then watching your child succumb to the same thing, but what really angers me here is that my son has been in and out of the hospital with asthma related breathing problems two times in the past two weeks and BOTH times they refused to test him. First they treated it as an asthma attack and sent him home. The 2nd time they treated it as anxiety and sent him home. Both times they told him you only get tested if you’re in the hospital AND dying. I know for a fact that isn’t true in our area. Here’s the thing, I know for a fact that politicians in my area and their relatives are being tested. I know four of them personally and it’s taken everything I have in me to keep my mouth shut when they call to tell me their stories. Well, it might be a good thing I’ve kept my mouth shut because I’ve finally decided that if my son’s breathing problems continue or he gets worse, I will be taking advantage of the connections I have and ask one of them to contact the health department on our behalf. I’ll threaten to make noise in the local press if I have to. When I learned about the favoritism, I swore I would never use my connections to get a test over someone else, but it’s not for me, it’s for my son, and I’ll fight a woolly mammoth for my son. Reading that Pink hasn’t needed her inhaler in 30 years but needed now is what has me worried because that sounds just like my son. it’s been years since he’s an asthma issue. You guys can pile on me about this, but it has been truly frightening to watch. He is the father of two very small children. While he’s been sick his wife is working a full load from home (60+ hrs) and taking care of the kids and doing all the household chores. Something’s gotta give here.

  11. Otaku fairy says:

    Glad she and her son are doing better. This is a hard time for anyone who’s either pregnant or has babies/toddlers, and will probably have a big impact on people who become parents in the future when it comes to how they look at germs.