Long Haulers Syndrome shines light on COVID-19 side effects

Virus Outbreak
Posted at 6:16 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 18:26:32-05

(WXYZ) — The arrival of several new vaccines for COVID-19 is bringing hope in 2021, but for those suffering from what some have labeled long haulers syndrome, it's been an uphill battle.

There are no definitive answers about the return to normal after a COVID diagnosis. The mysterious coronavirus arrived on the shores of America a year ago. Scary and deadly, but now for many who contracted the virus and survived the symptoms are lingering.

Jim Taylor used to work 70 hours a week, but COVID landed him in the Detroit Medical Center's Intensive care unit on a ventilator, forever changing his life.

"I had the white outs, they last about 5 to 10 seconds, sometimes 5 to 10 minutes," Taylor said.

Taylor is what some call a long-hauler. Ten months after diagnosis leg pain, sleep apnea and depression remain.

"I take about 12 pills a day," he said.

COVID is so new and now with a more contagious variation, the search for answers is on. Like Jim, LaTanya Carter was still suffering after a March diagnosis.

"All of the pain, fatigue, hair coming out in clumps, I can manage to walk from the bedroom to the bathroom still," she said.

CNN's Chris Cuomo talked about his struggles on air. Actress Alyssa Milano shared her shocking hair loss on Youtube and there are online support groups the unifying theme.

Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn of the Mayo Clinic is one of the few I could find studying post-COVID syndrome

"I wish there was really a silver bullet that we had for post-COVID syndrome at this point but there really isn't one yet," Dr. Vanichkachorn said.

The most common symptoms that are seen are fatigue. It's severe. A four-hour nap needed after doing dishes, walking or getting mail. Shortness of breath and brain fog are also common.

"Individuals who have been in the hospital or were treated in the ICU they seem to have a longer course for post-COVID syndrome," Vanichkachorn said.

Jim Taylor was sent to the DMC's COVID rehab program at RIM in Sterling Heights.

"He was walking with a walker," said Cheryl Trudau, senior physical therapist at RIM in Sterling Heights, of Taylor's recovery process. "He had a lot of problems with pain, very poor endurance difficulty with walking going up and down the stairs and severe balance."

Physical therapy two days a week has helped Taylor.

Dr. Vanichkachorn says two to three months of acute therapy is usually enough but for others it takes six months.

So here's the Rebound rundown:

  • You are not alone this is a real condition
  • Reach out to your health care provider for where you should go next if you're not getting better
  • And know it will take time to recover

Dr. Vanichkachorn says they are pouring over research out of London and Italy and also trying out new medications. Again he believes they will have more answers in about three months.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.