'It's been 19 weeks now': COVID-19 'long-hauler' describes her lasting symptoms
TORONTO -- An Ontario woman says she’s been living with COVID-19 symptoms for 19 weeks, and she’s sharing her story in hopes of warning others about possible long-term side effects of the virus.
Susie Goulding, a self-described “long-hauler” from Oakville, Ont. said she is among many Canadians who have contracted the virus and continue to exhibit symptoms for months, even after testing negative.
Goulding said she became ill in March after attending a yearly examination at a hospital. Two days after her appointment, she noticed a mild sore throat, but after five days her symptoms became more severe.
“When I woke up on the fifth day it was a completely different story, it was anything but mild,” she told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
While some patients only suffer from a few symptoms, Goulding said she experienced dozens of side effects including sinus issues, loss of taste, shortness of breath and a dry cough — all symptoms linked to COVID-19, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
“It felt like a big lump was in my throat and I was having a lot of trouble swallowing. My throat felt like it was paralyzed,” Goulding said.
On June 2, months after she first fell ill, she was tested for COVID-19 and her results came back negative. She was told by her doctor that she most likely had the virus at some point, given her symptoms.
Still, her unusual symptoms persisted. Perplexed by her pervasive illness, Goulding went online and found other people like her with similar experiences.
These days, Goulding said she continues to see developments in her symptoms. More recently, she said her symptoms have affected her brain function.
“The symptoms I’m having now are very neurological where I’m having difficulty speaking, putting sentences together, brain foggy, dizziness, tachycardia, and it’s ongoing.”
Goulding created a Facebook group for other long-haulers like her in hopes of offering each other support. The group now has more than 1,000 members.
Goulding said anyone who isn’t following public health guidelines should read the stories of other “long-haulers” and change their attitude.
“There are young people, marathon runners, people of all ages that are suffering debilitating symptoms that don’t seem to go away, and it may make you second think what you’re doing out there. We have to be vigilant, we have to wear masks, social distance and stay safe,” she said.
While there is no clear medical answer for why some people experience symptoms longer than others, experts have suggested it could be due to an abnormal reaction of the immune system or related to underlying health conditions.