COVID Long Haulers: What it’s like for people who caught COVID-19 and recovered

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A year into the pandemic, there is still so much doctors don’t know about the coronavirus.

One area of focus? The after-effects the virus can cause even after someone recovers.

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They’re often called COVID long haulers, people who caught COVID-19 and recovered...or so they thought.

Kayla Collins tested positive for the virus last July.

It’s March, and there are side effects she’s still dealing with.

“There were times where I felt like I was not going to make it the next day,” Collins said.

Collins’ journey through COVID-19 started in July when she tested positive for the virus.

Collins said she didn’t have all the tell-tale signs.

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“Fever, shortness of breath, and cough,” she said. “I actually had none of those symptoms. I did have brain fog, fatigue, I was weak, lightheadedness and loss of taste and smell.”

Collins went through the standard 14-days in isolation.

“I thought I was good after that,” Collins said.

But she wasn’t.

A few weeks after being cleared of COVID, Collins tried to play a simple game of volleyball with her friends.

Things quickly took a turn for the worst.

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“I couldn’t breathe at all,” she said. “It was very hard for me to breathe, and I felt kind of light-headed and winded. I actually passed out that night. I had to go to the ER.”

From there, Collins was in and out of the hospital for several months.

“My blood pressure rose; I was having very bad chest pains,” she said. “It was like my whole body had suddenly started breaking down.”

The frustrating part: Collins said she hasn’t gotten a lot of answers as to what’s wrong.

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“I still can’t smell,” Collins said. “Have not gotten my smell back. My taste is very limited. It kind of comes and goes. My brain fog is horrendous. I’ve been losing hair like crazy for the past few months.”

While there is a lot of emphasis on the vaccine, Collins feels the attention should also turn to find answers for those who are considered COVID long haulers.