COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ warn of ongoing health issues months after diagnosis

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ describe shakes, trouble breathing weeks after testing positive'
COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ describe shakes, trouble breathing weeks after testing positive
It's a phenomenon that researchers are only beginning to understand; why certain symptoms will persist for weeks in about 30 per cent of positive COVID-19 cases. Global's Malika Karim sits down with two people who are coping with the "long haul." – Feb 19, 2021

For many Canadians, the symptoms associated with contracting COVID-19 have lasted longer than their 14-day contagious period.

Those deemed as ‘long-haulers’ say medical issues keep popping up, months after their initial diagnosis.

“I actually had COVID pneumonia, they had to put me into a medically-induced coma,” Edmonton resident Lyndsey Plitt said.

“I think it was Jan. 8 was when I went to the hospital initially. I got out [this past] Tuesday, actually.”
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Plitt notes she had no underlying conditions prior to having COVID-19 and her doctors told her she was young, at 34 years of age. Now, Plitt has post-COVID symptoms, including lesions in her throat and trouble with her balance.

“My hands, you know, if I pick up a large thing, like a bottle of detergent, they’re fine,” Plitt said. “If I try and say pick up a coffee cup, they’ll eventually start to shake.

“You have to think about little things that you never had to think about before.”

Plitt began physiotherapy last week to help her re-learn how to walk — potential damage from the medically induced coma.

Just a few kilometers west, 22-year-old Vancouverite Hannah Lohnes wasn’t initially admitted to a hospital while contagious in November — something she’s thankful for, as she has Rheumatoid Arteritis. However, her symptoms started to become worrisome later.

“My worst period of COVID was from day 21 to 27, it was after I was cleared to go back out into public, that I actually felt at my worst,” Lohnes said. “My lungs were having the most issues. I was in pretty much daily contact with my doctor, who got me on a couple of inhalers, which had been amazing.”

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Almost 100 days past the onset of her initial symptoms, Lohnes still has trouble catching her breath.

“On day 70 or 71 I believe, I ended up going into the hospital because I was having issues with my breathing and with my heart rate,” Lohnes said.

“With my breathing, it felt like I wasn’t able to get a full lung of air, even though there was no congestion, there was nothing actually impeding me from doing so.

“My heart rate feels like it triples whenever I’m doing even the most minor of things, like that could be reaching for the TV remote two feet away from me and my heart will just speed up immensely.

“I was waiting to hear back from my doctor about going in for some tests for those, but I woke up one morning and it was a lot worse. I felt like my heart wasn’t slowing down at all.”

Lohnes now uses a walker to help her get around.

“Once I go out grocery shopping I have to sit down every aisle or two, because I’m just absolutely exhausted,” Lohnes said.

“And my knees just can’t support my weight after that, after a little while.”

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Both Plitt and Lohnes are hoping these messages will help other Canadians understand what the in-between effects of COVID-19 could look like.

“Remember that there are all those steps between complete recovery and death, in that extreme case,” Lohnes said.

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