Living with long COVID

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 9:30 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - COVID-19 has been present in North Dakota since March of 2020. After more than a year and a half of pandemic life, some people who contracted the virus over a year ago still live with the lasting physical effects of long-COVID.

More than 1,700 North Dakotans have lost their lives to COVID since the pandemic began. Those who developed an infection and survived are lucky, but many still live with lasting effects from the virus.

Lynne Tucker’s experience with COVID was harrowing.

”Somebody I knew well had been given the same instructions and died before he got out of the hospital. So, I knew it was serious,” said Tucker, a long COVID patient.

She was admitted to Jamestown Regional Medical Center last fall, where she was on 15 liters of oxygen, and was almost put on a ventilator. One year later and she still needs two liters of oxygen at night.

”It’s very frustrating. It’s very frustrating,” she said.

Lori Solberg had to leave work for two months and was worried she might not recover. One year after her COVID infection, she has improved but still isn’t fully recovered.

”Just to even be up to get myself oatmeal in the morning or something the first few weeks was just more than I could do almost. And I’d have to sit down and huff and puff,” said Solberg.

Specialists at JRMC say it’s difficult to see people come to terms with a slow recovery from COVID.

”I’ve seen a lot of disheartenment with how long its taking patients to recover and expectations that they’d be off of oxygen by a certain time and they’re not at that point,” said Madeline Ranum, cardiopulmonary rehab coordinator at Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

”If I could tell anybody anything, please for yourselves, for your friends and your family. I really wish everybody would get vaccinated,” said Solberg.

That echoes what experts say as well.

Although they’re both still dealing with the long-term effects of long COVID, Lynne and Lori are both hopeful about the future. They’ve both seen improvements in their health since they left the hospital all those months ago.

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