22-year-old Devin Kadis of Colorado contracted COVID-19 last August. She immediately went into quarantine and began thinking about recovery.
“I definitely was very sick. I was bedridden, I had all the symptoms pretty much besides a fever actually.”
She soon began to feel better but then…”Everything started to go downhill again.”
She started experiencing what she calls ‘body crashes.’
“I couldn’t move. My friends had to pick me up physically off the ground and put me in bed, and I couldn’t even speak. I was slurring all my words.”
The loss of smell, occasional trouble breathing, and brain fog continued into the fall.
“I didn’t need the answer, I know there weren’t answers yet, but I just needed somebody to make sure that I was okay.”
Eventually she landed at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, one of at least 33 U.S. medical facilities that are meeting this so-called long-hauler syndrome head-on.
“I think it’s being recognized as a much bigger problem as people are starting to recover from COVID.”
Dr. Natasha Altman helps run this post-COVID clinic which employs a variety of specialists to try to get a handle on what ails patients like Kadis and help them, somehow, someway.
“Long-hauler syndrome is a bizarre, often debilitating by-product of COVID-19. It’s marked by strange, wildly different symptoms. Doctors don’t know what causes it.”
“There’s something that the virus is doing I think either to the autonomic nervous system or how it’s impacting the heart itself or the other organs as well.”
On this day, Altman, a cardiologist, put Kadis through a treadmill stress test to determine whether heart issues were causing her exercise intolerance. Heart muscle inflammation and persistent high heart rates are two post-COVID symptoms. This syndrome affects a wide range of Americans.
The non-profit organization FAIR Health found nearly one-quarter of those who contracted COVID-19 experienced at least one new medical condition one month after infection, including a number of people who had mild or no symptoms initially.
“We have not seen this burden of persistent illness in people who are not hospitalized with this type of respiratory infection previously.”
UC Health doctors have found that recumbent exercise, lots of fluids and time are three things that tend to help their patients.
“I would definitely say one size doesn’t fit all.”
“I would never want this to happen to anyone else, because it’s been tough.”
Kadis, who despite the reluctance of some in the medical community to take long-hauler syndrome seriously, has been reassured it’s not in her head, it’s a real thing.
“The fact that I can work out again, the fact that I can smell again, means that I will be back to normal soon.”
A month after this interview, she says she’s now nearly recovered. She’s one of the lucky ones. With this clinic’s help, it appears she’s finally shown COVID-19 the door.