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Loss of memory, amputation of fingers, panic attacks: how COVID-19 changed the life of recovered

Many of the 1,7 million Americans infected with coronavirus have protracted symptoms and changes, after which their lives will not be the same, writes USA Today.

Photo: Shutterstock

An avid skier is preparing to amputate 8 fingers and 3 toes due to complications caused by coronavirus. The 27-year-old woman who defeated the virus suffers from panic attacks and depression. Recovering from a coronavirus, a resident of Florida lost his memory and eyesight. Here are the stories of a few people who survived the illness, but their life has seriously changed.

He returned home with pipes in his nose

Recently, 73-year-old Angel Andujar cannot walk out of his bedroom into the living room without panting. The tubes in his nose supply oxygen to the lungs affected by COVID-19.

Anduhar spent 18 days in a hospital in New Jersey struggling to survive after contracting the coronavirus. Rebuilding the house was also difficult. He slept only a few hours at night, and then woke up gasping for air. He tried not to watch TV - the mass of news about the coronavirus caused concern.

Andujar, a retired therapist from Puerto Rico, is used to doing business: working on home projects, cutting grass, visiting his grandchildren. He does not know if he will have long-term lung damage. Now he likes to be surrounded by friends and family. When his grandson celebrated his fourth birthday, Angel watched it from the window.

“As long as I have a daughter and grandchildren, I don’t need anything else,” he says. "That's enough for me."

Her friends die from COVID-19 while she is recovering

Two months after moving to Denver, Ravi Thurman thought her annoying cough was a residual high-altitude illness or a bad cold. On March 22, she entered the emergency room at the hospital, where she fell into a coma and spent 10 days on a ventilator with coronavirus-damaged lungs.

After returning home, Thurman, 51, constantly asked herself why she recovered when so many other people died from COVID-19. The woman’s Facebook page is filled with messages about how friends and families in the United States die from this disease. In one Indianapolis family that she knew, all 7 people got COVID-19, and three of them died.

She is still struggling with back pain, but she feels she will recover soon. A woman wants to show others that it is possible to survive.

“It's not necessarily a death sentence,” she says. You can beat this. Don't give up hope. "

She survived 9/11, and now the coronavirus

In the darkest moment, when her lungs clenched and she felt death approaching, Wendy Lansky seized on one thought: “Osama bin Laden did not kill me. I am not dying from this virus. ”

Lansky, 49, who survived September 11, spent 13 days in a New Jersey hospital fighting a coronavirus. Her temperature rose to 103 F (39,4 C), she developed severe chills, and it seemed to her as if "something was sitting on her chest," the woman admitted. Doctors argued about placing her on a ventilator, but instead confined herself to an oxygen mask. Slowly, but she recovered.

Already at home, Lansky is worried that heart palpitations and fatigue after illness will be constant.

This is not the first tragic event in her life. She was seated at her desk on the 29th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the first plane crashed into the building on September 11, 2001. Lansky ran down the stairs to the street at the moment the second plane hit. The woman says that in the first minutes, the reactions to stress are similar: “Who did this? Where is the safe place? " She confesses that the worst is the fear of the unknown.

“Sometimes I think I’m destined to survive tragedies,” she says.

On the subject: 'Could not breathe and coughed up blood': a Russian-speaking immigrant told how she had been ill with COVID-19

Her father infected her with a coronavirus: he died while she was sick

Tracy Alvino thought things were going well when she brought her father from a hospital in New York, where he had surgery on his neck, in a nursing home. She did not know that the 76-year-old man was already infected with the coronavirus. The virus spread through her house like a fire, infecting Tracy, her mother, brother and boyfriend. Two days later, Daniel Alvino became so ill that he had to be rushed to the hospital.

Tracy fought the virus at home. Her temperature rose, she lost her taste and smell. The pain in her leg, which she had broken many years ago, suddenly intensified. Armpits also hurt.

The most difficult thing was when the doctor asked if she wanted to remove her father from mechanical ventilation. Hospital staff said they could do nothing more for him. Since she was suffering from the same virus that was killing him, Tracy decided to release her father. He died 4 days later.

It took 17 days to cremate Daniel Alvino, and another month to bring him to dust.

“I was crippled by fear”

Jackie Palmer no longer suffocates from chest pain. Instead, the 27-year-old resident of Houston is faced with new problems: crying attacks, insomnia and depression, which make it difficult to get out of bed some days.

Palmer spent 4 days in hospital in March after being infected with a coronavirus during a cruise to Mexico with family members. She recalls how nurses put on protective equipment from head to toe to bring her medicine. After returning home, it took about 10 days for her back pain and fatigue to disappear, but television coverage of patients dying alone in hospital wards drove her into depression and questions constantly asked her head: why did she survive? When will she start to feel normal again? What if the gloomy mood never disappears?

She started chatting with an online consultant and joined the support group on Facebook. A plasma donation also helped improve her mood, although she could only do them once a month due to her weakened state.

Recently, while in the supermarket, Palmer saw a woman without a mask who was picking potatoes. It made Palmer's heart beat.

“I was going crazy,” she says.

Palmer says people need to understand: the battle with COVID-19 does not end when survivors leave the hospital.

“I am a very strong, independent young woman, and I was crippled with fear,” she says.

“It's like a dragon who is waiting to eat you alive”

For 11 days, Patricia Cruz Elostta lay in bed in a field hospital located in New York City Central Park to treat patients with coronavirus. Cold air penetrated the tents scattered around the hospital, and thunderstorms shook the air around him. From time to time, she could hear other patients suffocating and dying.

“Shortness of breath, weakness, despair,” says 57-year-old Cruz, recalling her experience in a temporary hospital. "The spirit was just broken."

Her condition eventually improved so much that she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. There she met her mother, 80-year-old Maria Alvarado, who also recovered from COVID-19. Once, while they were sitting together at a table, Alvarado collapsed to the floor with a heart attack. She survived, both returned to Astoria, New York, to continue the recovery.

Going outside, Cruz often takes breaks, sitting on benches to catch his breath. She begins cooking and cleaning her home - tasks she was thinking about before the pandemic. But the constant sharp pains in her back and right arm remind her that the virus has not yet completely receded.

“It's like a dragon waiting to eat you alive,” she says of the virus. "He will take everything he can from you."

Fingers to be amputated

Gregg Garfield uses a walker to keep his balance. The upper parts of his fingers are black and twisted, and will soon be amputated. This is a constant reminder of the 31 days spent on the ventilator in the battle for his life against COVID-19.

Garfield, 54, was a “null patient” at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, near Los Angeles. He got coronavirus during a ski trip with friends in Italy in February and was hospitalized on March 5, becoming the first patient with COVID-19.

During his 64-day hospital stay, Garfield's lungs failed 4 times, his kidneys stopped working, and infections flared up throughout his body. Doctors gave him a 1% chance of survival. His hands and feet experienced so much oxygen starvation that they were irreversibly affected: doctors are going to amputate 8 fingers and 3 fingers on his right foot.

Despite his setbacks, Garfield says he is lucky to be alive and surrounded by friends and family. His days now consist of early morning stretches followed by physical therapy — squats against the wall, exercise bike — three days a week. One of his main goals: to return to the ski slopes.

“Today is truly the only day you can count on. You may not be here tomorrow, ”he says.

Morphine injections for pain

Curtis Jefferson thought he was recovering from the coronavirus when he felt sharp, severe pain in the left side of his body. This was a new symptom. He suffered a fever, dry cough, headache, lack of taste. None of this made him go to the emergency room, but the pain did.

It turned out that he developed coronavirus pneumonia. He had to stay in the ward for 6 days to receive morphine shots for pain and antibiotics to fight pneumonia. At the hospital, he saw “only a few nurses, a couple of doctors, and they were covered from head to toe. They didn’t come to me unnecessarily. ”

After that, Jefferson was isolated in his basement, away from his wife and three teenage children. He slept in fits and starts at night. Climbing the stairs to the bathroom, he panted for 5 minutes. Now the man has recovered 99%, according to him, and returned to work in Washington, DC. He is still not sure where and how he got the virus.

“I walk around my neighborhood and I see people without masks talking to each other,” he says. “In some states, people are returning to the beaches and the rate is increasing. What are we doing? This is crazy for me. ”

On the subject: Fever, vomiting, and fainting: COVID-19 vaccine tester talks about his health

Defeated the disease and returned to work.

Cliff Roperes hugged his 7-year-old daughter for the first time in almost six weeks. She snuggled up to him and cried.

"Dad," she said, "now we can play again!"

A few weeks earlier, Roperes did not participate in his daughter's birthday party: he was in quarantine due to a positive test for coronavirus. A 47-year-old Roperes, a nurse at an elderly care facility near San Jose, California, quickly became infected, although he began to wear the N95 mask as soon as the virus was confirmed in the United States. At some point, he and his wife were worried about a possible death and had reviewed their insurance policies.

He says that he recovered from “Asian therapy”: his wife made tinolang decoy, Filipino chicken soup and ginger tea with honey. Three times a day, he inhaled steam from salty boiling water.

After a 12-day quarantine, Roperes returned to work, where COVID survivors had their own entrance. He feels weak and gets tired easily. But in an institution where more than 120 elderly patients are at risk, he is trying to cheer himself up. He turns his personal protective gear into suits - an astronaut today, a superhero the next.

“And it gives light to everyone,” he says.

He received a negative coronavirus test on May 11. The Santa Clara County where he lives requires two negative tests before residents can declare themselves free of coronavirus. He is waiting for the results of his second test.

“Someone very big was sitting on my chest”

The four children of Mary Pflum Peterson were not enthusiastic about the fact that their mother is sick, lies behind closed doors in the bedroom and cannot play with them. But now that she is recovering, they like that her mother cannot raise her voice to scold them, because even the slightest effort makes her hold her breath.

Pflum Peterson, a 47-year-old writer living in New York, received a positive coronavirus test on March 21. She is not sure how and from whom she became infected. According to her, even if you are young, healthy and in good shape, the virus "shows you who is the boss in the house."

In Central Park, she ran 2-5 miles a day. She now barely walks four flights of stairs to the front door of her Manhattan home. Long walks on the street, she said, lead to exhaustion. The worst of her symptoms - a complete loss of taste and smell, a burning sensation in the lungs, and the feeling that someone was "really very big was sitting on my chest" - were gone. But fatigue persists.

Her 13-year-old son is still sick with coronavirus, struggling with fever and excruciating headaches. He is the only person in their family who has tested positive for the virus. She herself knows that he will not soon return to normal.

“Many of us want to look back,” she says. "And there is an understanding that the virus will be here for a while."

“Nobody wants to be near you”

Susan Owens sat in a hospital waiting room, surrounded by a transparent separator and designed for those who tested positive for coronavirus. People on the other side of the wall avoided her gaze. She felt like she was stigmatized. Stunned, she cried.

Owens, a 55-year-old employee of the bank, lives in the small village of Moultrie, Georgia. On March 30, she had a positive test result, followed by three days of fever and such shortness of breath that "it seemed to me that the elephant was sitting on my chest and squeezing the breathing tube."

Since then, she has tested positive for antibodies, but the results of the virus test are still positive. Since her work requires a negative test, the woman has not been in the office since March 27.

At night, her legs burn as if they were burned by the sun. She gasps while planting flowers in the street. But the most painful thing is stigmatization.

“Nobody wants to be by your side,” she says sadly.

On the subject: Coronavirus May Cause Mental Disorders: What You Need to Know

Fourth time in the hospital

Donna Talla watches TV in her hospital room in Fairfax, Virginia to track the death toll and learn more about hydroxychloroquine. She suspects that the medicine used to treat her COVID-19 a week earlier could have given her side effects, including a fast heartbeat, which brought her to the hospital for the fourth time since March.

Talla received a positive test result on COVID-19 twice. She suspects that she caught the virus while shopping in March. She had back pain, then a rash and headaches. Later there was a fever and chills. After she was unable to climb the stairs, the woman went to the emergency room.

When her health improved, she returned to work from home as a sales director for a media company. After that, she twice received a negative test result. Then she again went to the hospital, this time because of the heart. In total, Donna was in the hospital 4 times.

“There are people who die in this hospital,” she says. "I'm one of the lucky ones and I don't take it for granted."

Soon she left the hospital home - again.

Easter miracle

His wife called it the "Easter miracle." On festive Sunday, April 12, after an eight-day coma caused by medical treatment, Kevin Ratel woke up in a hospital bed. Tears flowed down his face as he saw his wife and three children talking to him through an iPad.

5 days later, doctors and nurses stood ovation to a man when he left the Orlando Regional Medical Center in Florida, where he received plasma injections, which he believed defeated COVID-19 in his body. But for 52-year-old Ratel, the horror was just beginning.

He is trying to recover the 25 pounds (over 11 kg) that he has lost. Before COVID, he usually walked 4 miles a day, now he can walk a quarter mile, because he quickly gets tired. He wakes up in a sweat in the middle of the night and quietly covers his side of the bed with a towel so that his wife can sleep.

He cannot see as before, he cannot hold information in his head. When he forgets something, he shouts: "Covid brain!"

Ratel squints to see the words on the pages of the book, and runs his finger along the line. A man cannot even remember his favorite lines from the Bible, learned as a child ...

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