COVID Long Hauler In Colorado Describes Uphill Battle In Recovery

On CBSN Denver, Harper Powell, a long hauler from Colorado, talked about being part of the boot camp, which was created by Dr. Noah Greenspan. She was diagnosed with coronavirus right around the start of the pandemic last year, while she was a student studying abroad in France.

“I was sick for a few weeks and then I thought I had gotten better,” said Powell. “Weeks and then months went by, and I was starting to wonder more and more what could this be and went to some doctor’s appointments and there were no answers.”

For most people, symptoms of coronavirus can go away in a few weeks, but there are some survivors who have lingering symptoms that can last months. They’re known as COVID-19 long haulers. The Pulmonary Wellness Foundation launched an online boot camp to help those survivors who are still experiencing symptoms.

After a few months, doctors told Powell she appeared to be a COVID-19 long hauler.

“It started off with just a really tight chest, and I felt like I couldn’t get a deep breath in, like I had a band around my chest.”

Powell says that was just the start of her symptoms.

“Fatigue was one of the main things, and I also had heart palpitations, the chest tightness stayed continuous. Some gastrointestinal discomfort, really inflamed eczema, and just some other random symptoms.”

Powell says she’s still struggling with fatigue and heart issues now. She says the COVID-19 bootcamp is helping her manage her symptoms by teaching her breathing exercises, the importance of staying hydrated and when to take a break.

“I’m learning to really trust my body, listen to it, and just be really gentle. I was an endurance athlete who raced mountain bikes competitively. I was also a cross country skier. I’m used to pushing my body at a high level, so that’s been one of the greatest challenges throughout this whole year. I’ve had to learn not to push my body which feels very different.”

Powell says what was once an easy bike ride now can give her a headache and bad fatigue that lasts an entire day. She does have advice for other long haulers who may be struggling.

“One of the big things in the beginning is rest more than you think you need to. At the beginning when I thought I had kicked this illness, and I thought I was getting better, I started working out again. That’s when I felt the symptoms come back and pushing your body too much at that stage can also cause some of these lingering symptoms like cardiac problems and lung problems.”

To learn more about the COVID-19 bootcamp and the Pulmonary Wellness Foundation, check out our full interview with Dr. Noah Greenspan.

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