A recent Dalhousie University graduate has been suffering from the effects of long COVID for the past four months, which forced her to quit her job and made her medically exempt from finishing the final months of her degree.
Now, she wants to inform others who may be experiencing symptoms unknowingly.
In January, Amy Tenenbaum, 22, had a mild Omicron infection. She recovered in about a week after experiencing cold-like symptoms. However, several weeks later, she noticed she had difficulty breathing and eventually developed arrhythmia.
“I had a fast, rapid, pounding heart, even at rest. Chest tightness, chest pain, jaw and neck pain and tightness as well,” she said.
After being assessed in the emergency department, doctors concluded Tenenbaum had a case of long COVID.
“They were kind of like, ‘We can’t help you here. We don’t know anything about it. Come back in a few years,'” she said.
With no underlying medical conditions and having had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, Tenenbaum said she has been left disabled. She’s barely able to walk due to exhaustion and asthma, and largely unable to take care of herself.
According to Ashley Harnish, who works with a post-COVID-19 service offered by Nova Scotia Health, the severity of Tenenbaum’s symptoms is not typical of long COVID. However, the symptoms are dynamic.
“I think a year ago we thought that there would be a very specific presentation, maybe a persistent cough with chronic fatigue and what we’re learning is, every patient presents very, very differently,” said Harnish.
“They can identify up to 15 different things after having their diagnosis.”
Nadine Hardiman knows how serious long COVID can be.
She contracted COVID-19 in 2020 and is still experiencing symptoms of long COVID, including unexplained bruising, rashes, brain fog and chronic fatigue.
“You might notice my speech will change. I slur or can’t articulate,” she said.
After three months, Nova Scotia Health says 50 per cent of patients polled in their outreach efforts say they have at least one ongoing symptom after their initial COVID-19 diagnosis.
“Reach out to your health-care provider, reach out to us so we can help you navigate this and provide help because we don’t want people to feel like this is something they are with forever,” said Harnish.
Harnish encourages those who may be experiencing ongoing symptoms to complete an outreach survey.