It has been a year since the deadly coronavirus arrived in the U.S. In that time, over 400,000 people have succumbed to the virus, a catastrophic drumbeat of lives cut short. Many others have fallen sick and gotten better.
And then there’s another group of people, those who had COVID-19 but then never fully recovered. Months later, they’re still suffering from a plethora of seemingly unrelated symptoms, ranging from respiratory problems to joint pain to chronic fatigue. Their lives did not go back to normal after COVID-19, and they’re not sure if they ever will.
Much is still unknown about “COVID long-haulers,” as these patients are called, and we can only guess how many people are impacted. Scientists are currently studying the long-term health consequences of COVID-19, and health centers catering to patients with lingering symptoms are cropping up all over the country. In the meantime, for those suffering, it can be a lonely and challenging ride with no sense of when their symptoms might stop.
Online, Facebook groups dedicated to COVID long-haulers are filled with frustrated people — most often women — detailing the many ways the virus has upended their lives. While research is scant, some studies suggest that women are more likely to experience long-term effects of COVID-19 than men. In lengthy posts, these women tell of indifferent medical providers. Inexplicable hair loss. Of bodies that no longer do what they once did. Of skeptical friends and family. And the ubiquitous fear of getting COVID-19 again.