Woman finds hope, encouragement for COVID-19 long-haulers

WOWT Live at 10
Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 9:47 AM CST
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT/Gray News) – Ka’trina Smith was diagnosed with COVID-19 before vaccines were available and is still experiencing symptoms.

“I never got over any of my symptoms,” Smith told WOWT, describing them as dizziness, fever, loss of taste, pounding heartbeat and fatigue.

Now she’s finally getting answers to questions that countless doctors couldn’t answer before.

“Nobody could tell me anything was wrong,” the 39-year-old medical assistant said. “They’d say, ‘Well, it could be something from COVID.’”

It turns out Smith’s not alone. It’s been estimated as much as 10% of symptomatic COVID-19 patients experience what Smith has endured.

With no standardized name for the condition, it has proved challenging for the medical community.

“It’s the nature of what we do in medicine is to understand why,” said Dr. David Kaminsky, who is leading a COVID long-hauler study at the University of Vermont. “So, when people are recovering from COVID, you expect them to fully recover, and they’re not.”

Similar research is underway throughout the country. Smith finally started getting some answers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

“There’s no specific diagnostic criteria yet, no test that we can use to determine who really does have long-term COVID,” Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn of the Mayo Clinic said. “So, more and more patients are presenting for care now and are showing a wide variety of symptoms.”

The nonprofit Mayo Clinic’s COVID Activity Rehabilitation Program is part of a broad range of offerings she’s found there to help her recovery. She and her husband went to the clinic in January and will return in April.

“I can connect with all of these people,” Smith said. “I’ve talked to some of them, and they have no idea what’s going on and they are looking for answers. I was just like, talk to your doctor. You have to advocate for yourself.”

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