‘Long-hauler’ pleads for local physicians to help with treatment

COVID-19 patient still experiencing symptoms nearly a year after testing positive for COVID-19

ORLANDO, Fla. – Darcy Long shared a laundry list of symptoms she’s still experiencing nearly a year after testing positive for COVID-19.

She said she has tested negative for the virus several times since last year. She’s also seen several doctors but still hasn’t fully recovered. Now she’s pleading for local physicians to come together to try to find a solution for so-called long-haulers like her.

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“I have brain fog and memory issues, extreme fatigue, severe headaches, loss of taste and smell, body pain, throwing up, digestive disorders,” Long said.

Those are just some of the symptoms Long said she is experiencing after testing positive for COVID-19 nearly a year ago.

“I’m just thankful it didn’t kill me. I don’t know what else to do except plead for help,” she said.

She said she needs help trying to find out how to treat her symptoms. Long said she’s spent countless hours reading medical reports and studies online. She also visited several doctors and underwent treatment, but she said nothing has worked.

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired and nobody knows what to do to help me,” Long said. “It’s affecting me physically and emotionally.”

Long said she felt relief from many of her symptoms after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Unfortunately, she said the relief only lasted a few days.

“It all came back and I’m still suffering every day. I don’t know what to expect,” Long said.

Long is not alone. Studies from the Journal of the American Medical Association show about 10% of COVID-19 patients become long-haulers. Studies are still being done, but studies also show long-lasting symptoms of COVID-19 have been reported more by women and young adults.

Here’s what’s being done now. The National Institutes of Health launched a $1.15 billion research initiative into long haulers to help identify treatment options. The initiative is expected to last four years.

The CDC is currently working on guidance for providers on how to identify and manage long-haulers. This guidance will help legitimize the condition for patients using health insurance to pay for treatment.

Long said she wants more local physicians to get involved in studies to help treat long-haulers like her in Central Florida.

News 6 reached out to AdventHealth and Orlando Health to see if any of their physicians were part of studies or coming up with treatment plans for COVID-19 long-haulers but neither health provider has responded yet.

Long was laid off after she tested positive for COVID-19 due to her company downsizing. She is collecting unemployment now and is having a difficult time finding work with the continuing symptoms she’s having.

Long is encouraging everyone to get the vaccine to help protect their health and keep others from becoming a long-hauler like her and many others.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter and go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.


About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a multimedia journalist who joined the News 6 team in February 2020. Crystal comes to Central Florida from WKMG’s sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville, where she worked as a traffic anchor and MMJ.