Quispamsis woman frustrated by COVID-19 symptoms that linger for months

·3 min read

More than 10 months after she tested positive for COVID-19, Emily Bodechon is still suffering the effects of the disease.

The Quispamsis resident continues to experience severe fatigue, headaches, coughing and shortness of breath.

"I'm still having some shortness of breath. I'm on a couple of different inhalers. My throat is still very sore. I still have a cough."

Bodechon said the cough isn't constant, but it returns when she's tired or exercises.

She said her symptoms mimic those of chronic fatigue syndrome, but she hasn't had a diagnosis or much effective medical help. She said her family doctor has done his best to treat individual symptoms as they pop up, but she continues to experience the after-effects of COVID-19 without much relief.

"It's really frustrating when you have something that nobody really knows how to treat you," she told Information Morning Moncton.

"That part has been the most frustrating."

It was such a huge relief for me to meet other people that were suffering with what I had. - Emily Bodechon

Bodechon, a health-care worker, was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the end of March last year. She isn't sure how she caught the virus.

"No, they were never able to trace it back to anybody else," she said.

After two negative tests, she was deemed "recovered" by Public Health. After 10 more days in self-isolation with family members, she tried to go back to work.

"The first weeks back were really tough. I could only get through about a day or two of work and then I would just be hit with the crippling fatigue, and I would have a relapse.

"After the first couple of weeks of trying to go back, I never really felt recovered for a long time after that."

She said her employer allowed her to work partial days or partial weeks, sometimes working from home. She said it took a while "to find the combination of hours that I could do without causing me to have a severe relapse, where I'd be back in bed and and everything would come back, the cough and all of the symptoms."

Submitted by Emily Bodechon
Submitted by Emily Bodechon

Bodechon is not alone.

Some studies show up to 40 per cent of people who recover from COVID-19 experience long-term effects.

Bodechon would like to see a post-COVID follow-up clinic in New Brunswick to help patients deal with the lingering effects of the disease and where they can "get all of the treatment that they need in one spot."

While relatively low case counts in the province is a good thing, Bodechon says it means that doctors don't have a lot of experience with the disease.

Bodechon said she consulted with a naturopath and has eliminated dairy, sugar and gluten from her diet.

She also found help through an online support group for long-haulers.

"It was such a huge relief for me to meet other people that were suffering with what I had, because up until that point, I was alone and I just thought I was going crazy because I wasn't getting better."

Bodechon said she was told that Public Health officials were not tracking people once they recovered because they no longer posed a danger to the community.

As of Monday, 1,120 New Brunswickers have recovered from COVID-19, according to the government's dashboard.