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Posted: Jul 29, 2021 / 07:01 PM EDT
/ Updated: Jul 29, 2021 / 07:02 PM EDT
KNOX COUNTY (Tenn)– Many people are having to deal with the long-term effects of COVID-19. You may hear them called “long haulers.”
They’re people who got sick with COVID and never fully recovered. One Knox County woman is dealing with this right now.
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Pamela Bishop was diagnosed with COVID-19 in December 2020. She said she had mild symptoms and after a few weeks was back to normal.
Almost a month later, she started to experience long-term health problems that doctors say can be an after-effect of COVID-19.
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Bishop is a mom of who and said her family loves hiking, camping, and playing frisbee, but Covid-19 changed all of that,
“I was very sick for three weeks in December and then I got better. I didn’t have to be hospitalized.”
Then in January, her symptoms started to reappear. Now she has trouble remembering simple tasks like picking up her kids from school.
“Fatigue in the beginning and some issues concentrating and thinking clearly, but those instances started getting more frequent.”
RELATED: 1 in 5 asymptomatic COVID patients will eventually suffer long-haul symptom, study suggests
“I haven’t been able to work since April and I don’t know what’s next,” she said.
Some doctors say that these are symptoms of a COVID long hauler.
“It refers to people who have persistent difficulties with COVID that exist long after the acute symptoms are gone,” said Dr. Jim Jackson the director of Behavioral Health at the ICU Recovery Center at Vanderbilt.
Post COVID-19 symptoms can include fatigue, joint and chest pain, and concentration and sleep problems.
“For many of these patients they were completely normal before the emergence of Covid-19 and following Covid-19 they began to have very significant problems,” Dr. Jackson explained.
Doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are trying to help patients with the long-term effects of the virus.
“The reason we started this support group is because we were aware that there was a crisis,” Jackson adds.
Dr. Jackson said part of his research includes cognitive rehabilitation,
“There’s no doubt that there are a variety of pathways through which Covid could attack peoples brains and contribute to really poor cognition.”
Bishop is seeking help from Dr. Jackson and hopes his research can help,
“I hope that people understand that you can get Covid and the chances of you dying are fairly small, and everyone knows that, but the chances of you being chronically ill for perhaps the rest of your life in ways that are completely disabling for you are much higher.”
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She is longing for a day when she can take a simple walk with her kids without feeling pain.
Dr. Jackson said the best way to avoid contracting the virus and having these long-term symptoms is to get vaccinated. He also said that Vanderbilt is launching a study on COVID long haulers next week.