Chelsea Alionar hoped she’d be better by now.
The 37-year-old resident of Keizer, Oregon, has battled the symptoms of the coronavirus for more than four months.
She’s had to put her life on hold, but only feels a little bit better.
“I have really not left my home except for doctor’s appointments and a hospital visit just a couple of days ago,” she told CNN.
Her story illustrates what specialists have been saying: The virus can have long-lasting symptoms, often outside the respiratory system.
Alionar’s ordeal started March 9 when she developed a headache, followed by a low-grade fever. She tried to qualify for the coronavirus test, but it took 30 days.
The results came back positive.
Since then, her list of symptoms has grown.
She lost hearing in her left ear, had difficulty breathing and had dry mouth. She suffered a condition she called “Covid brain,” in which her short-term memory became shaky.
At times, Alionar felt like adrenaline was surging through her body, “like I just drank a carafe of espresso,” she said. She experienced an alarmingly rapid heart rate.
Insomnia is common and sometimes she has trouble putting her words together into sentences.
“I thought I had gotten over the worst of it,” she said. “I had gotten to 120 days thinking I can go back to work and work from home and I was thinking the whole time the whole goal is to stay out of the hospital unless the situation is really dire.”
But a few days ago, she did need to visit the hospital. She’s back home “and now I feel like it’s more important to re-quarantine again.”
Facebook group helps Alionar
One thing that helps her cope is membership in a Facebook group for “long haul Covid fighters.” She says she’s an administrator for the group, which had membership from 70 nations.
“Thank God for them because otherwise I don’t know where I would be mental health wise,” she said.
“This is far and above the toughest thing that I have ever had to go through.”
Fauci says some Covid-19 patients develop long-term fatigue syndrome
Though not commenting directly on Alionar’s case, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that there’s evidence some people develop a long-term fatigue syndrome from coronavirus infections.
“There may well be a post-viral syndrome associated with Covid-19,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a news conference organized by the International AIDS Society. The group is holding a Covid-19 conference as an add-on to its every-other-year AIDS meeting.
Fauci said the symptoms resemble those seen in patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME, once known as chronic fatigue syndrome.
“If you look anecdotally, there is no question that there are a considerable number of individuals who have a post-viral syndrome that in many respects incapacitates them for weeks and weeks following so-called recovery,” Fauci said.
“There are chat groups that you just click on and see people who recovered that really do not get back to normal,” Fauci added. They report symptoms such as brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue that resemble the symptoms of ME, he said.