/Here’s what recovery from long COVID looks like

Here’s what recovery from long COVID looks like

Chambless, who was also diagnosed with COVID-19 last July, was not vaccinated. He didn’t get a flu shot and had never been ill with the flu. “I felt like: ‘I’m okay. Chambless, a former high school softball coach, stated that it was unlikely to happen to him. It did happen, and Chambless was one of many millions still suffering from the long-term effects and injuries of a coronavirus virus infection. Chambless was working as a part-time greeter at Bass Pro Shop and a colleague said that he felt sick. At a nearby MEA clinic, he was confirmed to have the virus. He was unable to go home, so he waited. The symptoms worsened after several days of being bedridden. Chambless complained of fatigue, fever, and shortness-of-breath when he returned to the clinic. He was immediately taken to St. Dominic’s Hospital. Chambless was transferred to the intensive care unit during his second day at hospital. He was placed on a ventilator the third day. Chambless was on the ventilator for less than three weeks. His doctor informed his siblings that he had a 50% chance of survival the day before he woke. His family was already making funeral arrangements, fearing the worst. Mississippi was already the COVID capital in the world when he woke up. The rapid spread of the delta virus, fueled by the variant, decimated Mississippi’s hospital system and demoralized frontline workers. It also disrupted school for almost every student and parent in the State. Chambless only remembers his bizarre fever dreams from the first 12 days he was off the ventilator. One of his dreams was about him getting married and adopting a chimpanzee. His wife and he were hiding in the woods with their motorhome, as a group Russians tried to take their chimpanzee boy. Chambless was able to regain lucidity and realized that he was paralyzed below his neck. When he became overwhelmed by his illness, his brother had to feed and wipe away the tears. Chambless was transferred to KPC Promise Hospital in Vicksburg on Aug. 21. This is the only state hospital that has an open bed. Chambless is one of many patients with severe COVID. He often suffers from lung disease or inflammation. This condition is much easier to treat and diagnose. Even those with mild symptoms may develop long COVID, a chronic illness that can affect between 10 and 30% of COVID-19-infected people. Long COVID patients may experience more severe symptoms, such as brain fog, chronic fatigue, and joint pain. Many people have had their illnesses dismissed by doctors or told they are psychosomatic. Rhonda Meadows is a Methodist Rehabilitation Center nurse practitioner who runs the Recovery After COVID clinic, where Chambless is a patient. “A lot of patients come to us and say, “I thought everybody thought I was crazy but this is happening.” And we respond, “Oh, you know we’ve had patients complain about the same thing.” They are relieved. Chambless has been a coach in high school sports for 37 years and has seen many students go through physical therapy. He was not in for a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but he knew what he was getting into. He started from scratch. Chambless stated, “It’s quite a change when you have to start over.” Chambless had to learn how to speak, stand up and eat on his own. It was difficult to learn how to do even the most basic acts of self-reliance. Chambless had been “strong like a bull” his whole life. However, when he started physical rehabilitation, he couldn’t do more than ten reps of curling weights up to two-and-a half pounds. Chambless thought, “boy, I’ve come quite a ways, aint i?” In his lowest moments, it was the support from family and friends that kept him going. He was shocked to find the many messages he had received since his admission. They let him know that they were supporting him and that they were praying for him. Chambless stated, “It sounded as if I’d won something in the casino.” Chambless began to feel better slowly. Chambless still raves about Promise’s excellent food, including the shrimp po-boys (and hamburgers) that helped him to regain the majority of his weight while intubated. His caretakers encouraged Chambless not to eat less, but it didn’t matter. Chambless stated, “I told her: ‘Look! You’re wasting this stuff sending it to you,'” Chambless said that he doesn’t eat greens, other than skittles or M&M’s. He was transferred to Jackson’s Methodist Rehabilitation Center in November. Chambless couldn’t even get in his wheelchair by himself when he arrived. Chambless, a 60-year old man, stated to one of his nurses that “I am a 60 year-old man and my greatest ambition in life is to be able get up, walk to and take a dump.” Three hours of intensive physical therapy was required each day as part of the inpatient rehabilitation program. Chambless stated to his caregivers that he wanted to return home by Thanksgiving. Chambless achieved his goal and was sent home on November 23 with his brother. Chambless continues to receive care from Methodist’s Recovery After COVID Clinic. Chambless is driven by his brother to Flowood’s outpatient therapy clinic three times a week. Although he can now lift 50 pounds using the leg press, he still cannot walk independently due to foot drop. This is a condition where nerve damage prevents someone from lifting their front foot. His therapy uses a device that sends high-frequency electrical signals to his feet in the hopes of regenerating damaged nerve endings. Chambless is fully vaccinated and will receive a booster when he is eligible. He insists that he is not a vaccine pusher and strongly believes in the right of each individual to make their own decision. However, he urges everyone to get vaccinated. Chambless stated that it was the most regrettable thing in his life. Chambless said, “If I could go back I would take it.” Chambless’ family and friends were compelled to get vaccinated after hearing the word “vaccine” for the first time. Chambless’ brother said that he would take a booster each month if it meant avoiding the pain and suffering he had to go through. Chambless is looking forward and plans to return to his Bass Pro job, where he will greet customers in his wheelchair. He is unable to coach softball at Pelahatchie High school because he is so infirm. However, with 36 district championships and three state championships, Chambless is happy with his coaching career. It’s a day-by-day process, but it’s so much easier than I used to be. Chambless stated that she is just thankful to be alive.