SC woman still experiencing severe chest pain two months after testing positive, considered COVID-19 “long-hauler”

Updated: Sep. 9, 2020 at 8:38 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A South Carolina woman who tested positive for COVID-19 more than two months ago says she’s still dealing with some of her symptoms. She’s among a growing group of people who experience prolonged adverse effects from the virus known as “long-haulers.”

A July report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that about 65% of surveyed COVID-19 patients report feeling back to normal between five and 12 days after testing positive. However, about 35% have said that they cannot seem to shake the symptoms several weeks, sometimes even months after testing positive.

Health officials say even young, healthy people can be affected by these “long-haul” symptoms.

Ana Mellone Holland, 33, was born in Brazil and has been living in South Carolina for the last ten years. She says she’s always been an avid runner, something she’s had a passion for since the age of 10.

Before contracting COVID-19, she says she would normally run about 40 miles each week. That all changed when on July 3 she developed one of the worst headaches she says she’d ever experienced before. After a rapid COVID-19 test the next day, she learned she was positive and began her recovery at home only seeing doctors through virtual visits.

Her symptoms included chills, fatigue, loss of taste and smell and eventually extreme chest pain. She says she expected to feel sick maybe four or five days but her symptoms only got worse. Her stepmom, a physician still living in Brazil, recommended Holland begin breathing exercises to help her lungs recover.

“In the second week, I start feeling really heavy pressure on my chest and pain, and that was when things started to get really scary and I was coughing a lot,” said Holland who expressed this made her, “really concerned. So, I was doing the exercise because I was having so much pain that I had to do some breathing exercises, and I also went to the ER one night because I had extreme pain here and I was afraid.”

She’s now taking pain and anti-inflammatory medication.

“I have a horrible chest pain and every morning I wake up, I’m coughing a lot. That is not normal and I don’t feel okay. I feel tired. I’m trying to recover. I’m trying to be 100% percent again but I’m not,” said Holland.

Beyond the chest pain, she says she’s just not the same person she was before COVID-19. Holland tells WIS-TV, “There’s things that I used to do I cannot do right now and sometimes it’s hard. I was pretty active. Right now, instead of talking with you I would be probably running outside. So, now, I’m doing like short walks.”

Health officials say this long-term illness could be a sort of footprint that the virus leaves on the body in the lungs and blood vessels, which can affect any part of the body. There are still so many unknowns surrounding COVID-19, but some doctors have said it’s possible these “long-haul” symptoms could linger for years and that some may never fully recover.

Copyright 2020 WIS. All rights reserved.