So called "long-haulers" can't shake COVID-19 symptoms

Ava and Ziah McKinney's long, strange dance with the coronavirus began March 9 when the energetic 15-year-old took a nap, then could barely get up.

"It was extreme exhaustion," Ava McKinney-Taylor says.

Two days later, 51-year-old Ziah got sick.

"It settled in my chest.  I have asthma," Ziah McKinney-Taylor says.

And, just two days later, Brian was ill.

 "My husband just basically got sleepy," Ziah says.

Her parents seemed to recover, but Ava's fatigue and mental fog has never lifted.

I am always exhausted.  And I don't even remember what it's like to not be exhausted any more, " Ava says.

Tanner Health System pulmonary critical care specialist Lindsey Roenigk didn't treat the McKinney-Taylor family, but has treated numerous COVID-19 survivors.  


"I'm definitely seeing patients who tell me they can't think all day long, that after a couple of hours, they're exhausted.  I have people who say they have issues word-finding," Dr. Roengik.

By mid-June,  Ziah was getting worse.

"I started feeling bad. My heart started racing a lot.  I started getting really weak tired," Ziah says.

Then, Ziah lost her sense of smell. Since then, she's struggled with sleep problems, rashes, and dozens of other symptoms like headaches and nasal inflammation.

"Brain fog.  Hot and cold flashes constantly," Ziah says.

Mother and daugther, both dancers,  says their hearts will suddenly race, for no reason.

"Each time, each flare up, it's a worse version of COVID," Ziah says.

During a recent ER visit, a doctor told Ziah she may be a COVID "long-hauler,"

"It's a terrrible feeling as a physician.  We want to make people feel better.  And there is just no data to guide us with the acute illness or for our long-haulers,"  Dr. Roenigk says."I wish I had answers.  We all wish we had answers." 

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