CLEVELAND (WJW) — Columbus native Elle Sompres is a so-called COVID-19 “long-hauler.”
“I feel like it’s cliché, but it’s an absolute nightmare.”
Currently living in California, she has been documenting her prolonged symptoms from the virus for the past nine months.
“I really think that educating the public on what’s truly going on is important.”
For Sompres, the symptoms have evolved into a long list that included low-grade fevers almost daily for 7 and a half months.
“Then kicked in the chest pain, the shortness of breath, the heart palpitations,” she listed. “As time went on, I lost complete feeling in my left leg to where it was completely paralyzed, my fingers have gone blue, my hands have tremored.”
Cleveland Clinic Dr. Kristin Englund, who had not treated Sompres, is leading the creation of a long hauler clinic and said they are also seeing fatigue as a prominent symptom.
“I think we’re seeing symptoms post-COVID or long COVID in every age range and in every demographic.”
Englund said what she calls “long COVID syndrome” isn’t a persistent viral infection.
“The virus is not necessarily still in the body and not still able to be shed, that was over weeks ago or potentially months ago. But what we’re dealing with is the body’s response to that. So it’s often an inflammatory response that causes the persistent symptoms,” Englund said.
Hoping to begin this clinic in the next 4 to 6 weeks, Englund said they will start with Cleveland Clinic patients, intending to expand later on, and those who have had a laboratory diagnosis of COVID.
“We’re building a core team of a couple of providers who will be doing an initial evaluation on patients and it’s an evaluation that’s comprehensive. And that we’ve had numerous specialties give their insight, their expert advice to helping us decide what we need to look at initially for our patients.”
After a patient’s evaluation, Englund said they will be making specific referrals to the specialists that have helped develop the Recover Clinic’s programs.
“We named the clinic the Recover Clinic because we fully anticipate that people will recover from this.”
Online support groups are helping Sompres find answers and new information that her doctors are encouraging her to share.
“These doctors right now, they’re students of this virus and they’re learning from us, the patients,” Sompres said.
For now, Sompres is keeping the faith that these types of clinics and research will help people like her get better.
“I can’t wait to share the day that I’m saying it’s over.”
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