After testing positive for the COVID-19 virus in early 2020, Katie Borrett found that she was dealing with a number of ongoing symptoms that made performing simple tasks difficult. At the time, there was little information about the virus or long-term effects. It was only later that these symptoms were identified as long-COVID symptoms.
“One of the worst things about long COVID is the loss of control of your body,” said Borrett. “Oftentimes, you don’t feel like a contributing member of society because you’re just too exhausted to even complete the simplest task.”
“I honestly had a really mild, very minimal acute presentation of COVID,” she continued. “And then about two to three months later, I started to develop the sort of autoimmune-type reactions to COVID.”
“There’s a lot of neurological stuff like irregular temperature, blood pressure instability, headaches and excessive sweating, like having 30 hot flashes a day. I also experienced severe shortness of breath for probably more than a year and I still struggle with sleep disruption due long COVID.”
Instead of recovering as expected, Katie’s symptoms worsened. “When I was really bad, I couldn't even shower; the feeling of warm water on my body plus the standing and bending was unbearable. I had to get my partner to help me for about seven months.”
After speaking about her experience with her family doctor, Katie was referred to the Post-COVID Interdisciplinary Clinical Care Network.
“I remember hearing about it in a news story,” she recalled. “And then I did my own research from there to learn more.”
Through the Network, Katie was referred to specialists, including a physiotherapist.
“I [also] had a neurologist and dermatologist referral from the COVID clinic. I supplemented the in-person, clinic support with information from the Post-COVID Interdisciplinary Clinical Care Network website, which includes fact sheets and pamphlets
Two years later, she’s still managing her long COVID symptoms – a slow recovery that has limited her quality of life and ability to function. However, the Post-COVID Interdisciplinary Clinical Care Network’s resources and care have helped her understand and handle her day-to-day symptoms.
“The non-stop fatigue makes it so hard to do my regular activities,” shared Borrett. “I need to find small tasks for each day to give myself a sense of fulfilment; otherwise, it’s easy to end up on the couch feeling awful.”
It is not yet known exactly how long symptoms last for people experiencing long COVID, but Post-COVID Interdisciplinary Clinical Care Network clinicians have found that approximately 35-40% of patients show improvement after six to nine months.
“I would say I'm probably about 75% of [my normal capacity],” Katie continued. “I'm still experiencing ribcage pain, temperature issues, blood pressure issues. I went back to work in October 2021, which has been really exciting for me; however, I wasn't able to return to my bedside job just yet, but very happy that I'm in a full time job again. To be honest with you, I'm pretty positive I'm never going to be the same. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get back to 12-hour shifts.”
Learn more about post-COVID-19 care and recovery