COVID-19 "long haulers" say there is more to virus than people know
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- You hear the stories of many people who contract COVID-19, quarantining for 14 days and healing from the virus, but there’s a community of people who’ve battled COVID-19 symptoms for months now.
Brianna Neves, 38, of Bend is considered a COVID-19 “long hauler” and has been battling effects of the virus 19 for nearly 18 weeks now. Continuing to endure the symptoms, Neves took to Facebook recently share how her experience has affected her life, in hopes of helping others.
Neves is a behavioral health specialist, had no preexisting medical conditions, ate a plant-based diet and worked out regularly. She says she did not expect to be suffering so severely from the novel coronavirus.
She experienced shortness of breath, which she thought was just allergies, but later contracted viral conjunctivitis in both her eyes prompting her to get tested.
Neves never actually had a fever, one of the more typical symptoms of COVID-19, which made her experience with doctors even more challenging.
“The challenge of this is that you're trying to believe what is going on and you're trying to teach your medical personnel what is going on, because this is new for them," Neves. "For some of the physicians I worked with, I was one of the first patients with COVID. So that shock, surprisingly in week 17 or 18 now, is something I am still working through.”
Neves was tested the first week of April. She now takes three asthma medications, is reliant on oxygen 24 hours a day and struggles to do everyday activities, like going to the bathroom or walking to the kitchen.
“The game-changers for me are physicians who are willing to stand by me and say, 'I don’t know, I am willing to learn what this looks like,'" she said.
"So there is a definitive difference with physicians who want to put me in boxes they're already familiar with, that COVID absolutely does not fit within, which has impaired the level of care that I have received throughout.”
Neves says some physicians have continued to educate themselves with updated information on what COVID-19 can look like, while others focus on specific parameters. She says this one of the many reasons why people don’t believe COVID can last so long.
“The single thing that has gotten me through this is other long-haulers that have shared their stories, and that when I've read those stories along the way, it's been my lifeline," Neves said. "To not only know this is real, to help deal with the shock that we have talked about, but also that I am not alone.”
Neves says though this experience has been isolating. Neves is still struggling to breathe daily, but she's been at home for weeks.
She shared that she's been prescribed oxygen, but it is no longer covered by her insurance company. Neves also has not been medically released to work from home, so it has been difficult not being able to see any of her clients, as she is a therapist.