“Am I going to breathe well today?” “
A few weeks of suffering and most COVID-19 patients are on the mend. The fever subsides. Breathing improves. The food even tastes like food again.
And then there are the long-haul flights. It’s definitely better than dying, but you don’t want to be a long haul.
Gabriela Ochoa Perez had no reason to believe that a term like this would ever apply to her. She was a healthy and energetic 20-year-old girl born and raised in Colombia, pursuing her dream of being an actress in New York City. When she first tested positive for the novel coronavirus on April 17, her symptoms were all familiar.
“I felt like someone was sitting on my chest and covering my mouth and nose,” she said. “I couldn’t get up without my heart rate hitting 130 something. I have lost my smell and my taste. It wasn’t fun. But it was everything I expected, and I thought it would probably last a few weeks.
She received medical attention. She did as she was told. She stayed indoors and made sure not to pass the infection on to others. She gave her body’s immune system time to build up again and reassert its rightful dominance.
A month passed. Two months passed. Then three and now almost four.
“I am tested negative now,” she said. “I’m definitely better than I was. But I can’t go out without an oxygen cylinder. I cannot act. When I speak, I feel like I’m rushing too much. I still have a fever. I still can’t do much of what I used to do. I’m not much better, even after four months.
People kept saying, “Be patient,” and she tried to be. “But there is only one limit to what one can take. I would just like to know what is going on.
The same is true for many researchers, physicians and other health professionals.
As they attempt to get rid of this brand new virus, many mysteries remain. Why are some people asymptomatic? Do they have a more ferocious immune system or are they lucky in some other way? Why is the virus fatal to some otherwise healthy people? While many deaths from COVID-19 are predictable – the old, the obese, the severely preconditioned – a good number are not. What explains these viral flashes? And what about the children? How does the virus bother them differently?
Coronavirus Update: Global cases are close to 21 million; US has over 1,000 deaths to extend 2-week streak
Next, you discuss the myriad ways the coronavirus undermines the human body: the organs it attacks, the strength of its grip, the drastically different slopes of recovery, the prerequisites it shrugs its shoulders and those it sorely exploits. .
Can you get it two or three times? Nobody knows. How long do the antibodies last? Nobody knows. What protection do they offer? Nobody knows. How useful will a vaccine really be? Again, no one knows.
Really, the questions don’t end, and now we have another: why do some people who seem to have conquered the infection still not recovering? What explains the long haul?
Lily: Is it still safe to work and go back to school in New York?
“A lot of people don’t get better after two weeks,” said Noah Greenspan, a Manhattan cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist and founder of the Pulmonary Wellness Foundation. “Many of them are young and healthy people like Gaby, the last people you would expect.” They filled his cabinet, he said, arriving with a wide array of lingering symptoms.
Greenspan recently launched what he calls the COVID Rehabilitation & Recovery Bootcamp, an online resource for patients whose symptoms just don’t go away. The toll-free program (pulmonwellness.org) suggests exercises, breathing techniques, and other wellness therapies and also provides patient education and support. There is also advice from other medical specialists.
Also see: Dr Fauci describes 3 ways the United States can emulate South Korea, Singapore and New Zealand – and control the spread of the coronavirus
“This coronavirus is extremely opportunistic,” said Greenspan. “Not only does it affect the respiratory system, but it also affects the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, and any other system that is your potential weakness. The virus will find that weakness and exploit it. That’s why nagging business requires a broad and interdisciplinary approach.
If COVID had not been such a crisis, he said, many more of these patients would have been treated in emergency rooms and intensive care units. “But these facilities were overcrowded and too many of these patients were essentially sent home and told to fend for themselves,” Greenspan said.
In many cases, they are still fighting.
As for Gabriela Ochoa Perez, she said she takes the virus much more seriously than many of her young friends. She said she was open to almost anything that could help her regain full health.
“COVID has changed my life,” she said, “in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I’m going to be okay with it. I know I’m going. But it sure takes a lot of I’m definitely ready to wake up in the morning and not have to worry, “Am I going to breathe well today?”