Alexandria woman battles COVID for more than a year
She was diagnosed with Post-COVID-19 Syndrome by the Mayo Clinic.
Just over a year ago, Alyssa Andrews tested positive for COVID-19. The 35-year-old Alexandria woman remembers having her breakfast – Corn Pops and coffee – and not being able to taste either of them.
“It was the weirdest feeling,” she said. “Knowing what they were supposed to taste like but not tasting anything.”
Her symptoms at the time, besides her loss of taste, included a horrible headache, body aches, exhaustion and shortness of breath.
Now, more than a year later, those symptoms, as well as a plethora of others, still linger.
Andrews is what is known as a “long hauler” and she is now a patient of the Mayo Clinic, taking part in a post-COVID recovery group.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes persist for months. The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.
Most people who have the coronavirus recover completely within a few weeks. But some people – even those who had mild versions of the disease – continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Those people, the long haulers, like Andrews, have a condition called Post-COVID-19 Syndrome.
Andrews, who under normal conditions, considers herself a healthy person, has been dealing with the after effects of COVID for quite some time. She has since started a blog, “ Behind these blue eyes ,” which details her journey as a long hauler. It can be viewed at behindtheseblueyes86.blogspot.com.
Because of how she kept feeling and the symptoms she was experiencing, Andrews kept going back to the doctor.
She was extremely tired, had non-stop headaches, her heart rate was continuously high and just didn’t feel right. She said her doctor told her, “You’re still sick. The virus is gone, but you’re still so sick.”
The symptoms she was experiencing were similar to a friend of hers who has Lyme Disease and so she reached out to her.
“She was very helpful and connected me to Well and Company,” said Andrews. “They ran a bunch of tests and were trying different things to try and make me feel better.”
Well and Company is a direct primary care clinic in Alexandria. Andrews said she started receiving a variety of IV infusions from the clinic, which she still continues today. The infusions, she said, are vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory medicines. She gets the infusions twice a week.
And even though the infusions help, Andrews is still dealing with body aches, headaches, stiffness in her joints, lack of energy and always feeling exhausted.
“It’s so frustrating,” she said. “I feel like a walking hot mess. I’m just a trainwreck.”
This past June is when she was referred to the Mayo Clinic. It came after she also started having nerve issues and had a loss of hearing in her left ear.
She went through a plethora of testing, which resulted in the confirmation of Post COVID-19 Syndrome.
“This gave me hope and also felt like I had gotten the gold stamp of approval and that it was a big enough deal for Mayo to accept me as a patient,” said Andrews. “It validated what I was going through and that I wasn’t making it up.”
Andrews is now part of the post-COVID recovery group, which will take place during a 12-week period. Her appointments are virtual and include a doctor and several other people who are going through the same thing.
Dealing with Post COVID-19 Syndrome, said Andrews, is similar to dealing with any other chronic illness, like fibromyalgia.
“You learn to deal with it because there really isn’t a cure,” she said. “There’s no magical pill or anything, although that’s what so many people want.”
For Andrews, sharing her story is her silver lining as she wants others to know that if they are dealing with the same things, they are not alone. She wants to shine a light on Post COVID-19 Syndrome and to share information as she learns it, which is why she started her blog.
“There’s no answers right now, we are all learning this together,” she said. “And sharing information is a great way to do that.”