(WFSB) – Over the months with the coronavirus pandemic, doctors are seeing more and more so-called ‘long carriers’.
These are people who have had COVID-19 but still have health problems months after recovering from the virus.
Steve Adkins and his wife, Rita, were among the first people in Connecticut to be diagnosed with COVID-19. They live in Clinton and believe they took it from attending an open-air concert in Madison in early March.
“There was a man on the other side of the table, with his back to him, with a pretty bad cough. “I̵
Rita also fell ill, but her symptoms were not severe and did not require hospitalization.
Steve spent two weeks in Yale New Haven Hospital and wasn’t sure if he would live to see his wife again.
“It simply came to our notice then. We hadn’t had that last kiss, we hadn’t hugged. That was difficult. One of my great reliefs was that I didn’t give it to anyone else, “said Steve.
Now, seven months later, relief is being replaced by frustration with new care; the long-term effects of COVID-19.
Steve is a long carrier. He recovered from the virus, but now has long-term complications.
Something that surprised him from the age of 67, he never had health problems and was not even on medication and was always a healthy and active boatman and cyclist.
“I’m like wow, I’m light. I’m on a bike, training, running a decent run, I just felt like a kid on a recovery poster. And then it was very recently, at the end of August, I woke up one morning and I had double vision, ‘said Steve.
Steve was then diagnosed with AFIB, an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of heart failure and stroke. There is no real cure, but it can be controlled with medication.
“I feel betrayed because we knew, or someone knew, that it was a serious illness in March, and they didn’t make us believe it was a serious illness. This concert would not have happened if we were as worried as we should have been in January or December, “said Steve.
Rita has also never had health problems and yet has lasting effects from the coronavirus.
“I have chronic fatigue, where I will get up at nine o’clock in the morning and at eleven o’clock, I will tell him that I am just really tired and I will go to bed and sleep for four hours. It just captivates me. “Sometimes I drive and I have to stop on the side of the road because I nod, so that’s my big thing and the headache,” Rita said.
Rita and Steve are not alone. The number of COVID long carriers is growing.
There are now countless online communities of long haulers who complain of brain fog, lack of concentration, fatigue and many other problems.
“I think we need to learn a lot more about the long-term effects of COVID, but what we’re starting to see in some of these groups is that 20 to maybe 50 percent of people will have some permanent problem after hospitalization with COVID.” said Dr. Mitchell Elkind.
Dr. Mitchell Elkind is president of the American Heart Association. He says people are more likely to have long-term heart, lung or neurological problems if they have been hospitalized with COVID, but even if people are not hospitalized, they can still have them.
“There are people who have had mild symptoms, have never been hospitalized, who seem to have evidence of heart damage, for example, even a few months after the virus. And some people will have some others, which we could usually call neurological complaints. Fatigue, headaches, muscle aches and things like that, ”said Dr. Elkind.
Dr. Elkind says existing conditions put people at higher risk, but even healthy people can become long-lasting.
“It is absolutely wrong to think that this virus does not affect young people, healthy people, we are all at risk of this virus. It is true that some cardiovascular diseases, as well as age, increase the risk of complications, but young healthy people have become very ill, have had a stroke, I have seen them. Some have died from this virus, fortunately this is the frequency, but it happens. We are all at risk, “said Dr. Elkind.
For Steve and Rita, they try to stay positive about their new normal and focus on what’s good in their lives.
“More important is the family and the big babies and the fun. So, I’m going to stick to this route a little bit more and try not to let the things that drive you down take you down, ”Steve said.
But not down and out of the virus, which for many survivors is like an unwanted guest in the house who will not pack up and leave.
Channel 3 spoke in depth with Dr. Elkind about the long-term impact of COVID-19. To see the full interview, click here.