The road to recovery from COVID-19 has been a long one for Evan Fournier, and it does not appear to be anywhere near over.
Shortly after joining the Boston Celtics in March, Fournier hit a major snag when he tested positive for COVID-19. The 28-year-old forward missed nine games while recovering from the virus in April. He returned to game action April 23 but still is struggling with some residual effects of his bout with COVID-19.
You likely would not have figured that based on his 21-point performance in the Celtics’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, though.
But Fournier was not afraid to open up about his continued struggles with COVID-19 side effects following Sunday’s game.
“I’ve been feeling really weird, to be honest,” Fournier said during his postgame media availability. “… The thing is, I feel (like) I have a concussion. … Right now, it’s actually doing a lot, a bit better. But at first it’s like the lights, like, were bothering my eyes and my vision was blurry and everything was just going too fast for me. And, I mean, that’s still the case. Some stuff are, you know, better. But at times, I’m really struggling focusing on one thing. My depth perception is really bad right now. But I saw a specialist. She gave me some exercises. And hopefully, I’ll get better.”
Naturally, losing depth perception as an athlete can have significant consequences. Fournier feels himself improving, but knows there is still a ways to go before he is back at 100%.
“It’s been two or three days now, maybe four, where things are a little bit better,” he said. “It’s nowhere near where it needs to be but I’m going to keep pushing and I’m going to keep working on my stuff and things are going to get better. But, I mean, it felt great honestly to … feel like myself a little bit. It’s been a painful comeback, to say the least, but what matters is we build momentum going into the playoffs and we need to keep play(ing) hard.”
Fournier is just one of several young athletes to not only contract COVID-19, but feel symptoms afterward. Fellow Celtics teammate Jayson Tatum, for instance, still struggles with side effects from his bout with the virus.
So it should come as no surprise that Fournier said a significant portion of COVID-19 survivors experience symptoms similar to his.
“That’s the thing with this COVID thing,” Fournier said. “The truth is that doctors and everyone, they really have no idea (about the truth behind COVID-19). You know, it’s so new. And the stuff that I’m feeling, apparently one-third of the people after COVID got those symptoms as well. So it’s not an isolated case. But like I said, with time, it’s going to get better. Some people lost their taste of the food and the smell. And me, I’m guessing it’s just my awareness and all that, it’s part of the senses. But it’s going to get better. It’s already slightly better. So, like I said, I’m going to keep working. But I can’t just take games off or practice off because I’m not feeling well mentally. If my body’s available, I have to be available.”
As previously noted, Fournier’s COVID-19 diagnosis was extremely untimely. It was particularly frustrating for Fournier, who was very much looking forward to his promising new opportunity with a storied franchise.
Now that he is back on the court, Fournier is forging forward despite his lingering symptoms. He does not plan to let them slow him down if he can help it.
“I’m not overly concerned for my health because I know over time it’s going to get better and I have no doubt that I’ll be good,” Fournier said. “It’s just very unfortunate the timing of things. Obviously, I’m new here. So people don’t really know my game and know who I am and it’s just terrible timing. I get here with high expectations and ambitions … and for the first time in my career, have the opportunity to make a really deep run into the playoffs with a team. So, it’s kind of a golden opportunity for me to finally be with a great team and the fact that I got COVID and I’m feeling like this, it’s heartbreaking.
“So, that’s the hard part. You guys don’t know me yet, but I’m mentally as tough as it gets and I get through that for sure.”