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Haunting to experience: COVID-19 ‘long-hauler’ treated in Sacramento shares her story – KCRA Sacramento

When Michelle Sogge contracted COVID-19 last June, the symptoms were attention-grabbing.“I was in bed, just about to fall asleep, and my arm just started to kind of go numb. And I thought, ‘Oh, that’s weird.’ And then my heart started racing and I suddenly couldn’t get air in,” she recounted.Sogge, 25, a lover of running, hiking and the outdoors in general, considered herself healthy. She felt alarmed. “Having that sudden sensation of my heart being out of whack and knowing that something was wrong was really frightening,” said Sogge, who works for the University of Arizona in Tucson. Sogge went to the ER, thinking maybe she was having a heart attack. At the time, Arizona was seeing what were then record numbers of positive COVID-19 cases.It wasn’t a heart attack. She said doctors told her they suspected a panic attack and sent her home. The symptoms, however, didn’t subside, so she went back and got a COVID-19 test. A few days later she learned she had tested positive for the virus.Search for answersSogge, who is still feeling debilitating effects from COVID-19, is part of a group of people called “long-haulers” — people whose side effects from COVID-19 persist and can make everyday tasks a grueling challenge. According to UC Davis Health, researchers estimate that roughly 10% of coronavirus patients become long-haulers. The long-term symptoms, and their severity, vary. Marina Oshana, a professor emerita of philosophy at UC Davis, said in a December webcast put on by the university that her long-term side effects have been fatigue and breathing issues.The condition affects the young and old alike, from otherwise healthy people to those with underlying conditions. It can impact those who were hospitalized with COVID-19 to patients with mild symptoms.Sogge eventually came to California with her dad to seek care once living alone was no longer possible. (In some of her most dire moments, Sogge said she was so weak she was having to crawl across her floor to answer the door.) Once in the Sacramento area, she was referred to a still-forming UC Davis Health clinic created to help and learn about people like her.Doctors with the Post-COVID-19 Clinic are examining those who have survived the virus but suffer lingering symptoms that can include respiratory issues, heart problems, fatigue, neurological concerns and more. Their goal is to find answers as to why some who contract the virus experience side effects that last for months.For Sogge, her main long-term symptoms have been trouble breathing and chest pain, along with fatigue and not being able to think clearly. While at the clinic, doctors conducted a slew of tests, searching for answers on Sogge’s condition. They also developed a personalized care plan for Sogge. Now back in Arizona, she says she continues to use the treatment plan that UC Davis Health gave her.“I’m still limited in 90% of the things that I would have been able to do before I got COVID. I would love to be able to go outside and take a walk around my house. I definitely know I can’t do that today,” she said.Many unknowns As with Sogge and others, doctors haven’t yet been able to determine why her life in particular was turned upside down by COVID-19. For most people, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.”One common theory about patients with long-term COVID-19 symptoms is that the virus possibly remains in their bodies in some small form. Another theory is their immune systems continue to overreact even though the infection has passed,” UC Davis Health said in a December article.Sogge isn’t sure how she contracted the virus. The only memory that sticks out in her mind is going to a gas station and encountering someone who wasn’t wearing a mask. She said she hopes sharing her story motivates people to listen to science when it comes to wearing facial coverings and social distancing. She also hopes she helps others become more aware of the potential long-term effects of the virus that don’t result in death. “It’s not a dual choice of being alive and being healthy or being dead from COVID. That’s not what we’re talking about here,” she said. “We’re talking about all that messy stuff in between that long-haulers are facing, where, yes, your life may not be over but it may be changed in ways that are difficult to imagine and absolutely haunting to experience.”Sogge says support from her family, friends and online groups has been key. And with so many people investigating COVID-19, she hopes that one day someone will be able to provide answers to her. “There’s so much research going into this disease. There’s so much attention on it right now, it’s such a huge priority for so many different countries, that I’m hoping that one day, they’ll be able to find that out,” she said. Have a story to share about your experience with COVID-19? Let us know at news@kcra.com.

When Michelle Sogge contracted COVID-19 last June, the symptoms were attention-grabbing.

“I was in bed, just about to fall asleep, and my arm just started to kind of go numb. And I thought, ‘Oh, that’s weird.’ And then my heart started racing and I suddenly couldn’t get air in,” she recounted.

Sogge, 25, a lover of running, hiking and the outdoors in general, considered herself healthy. She felt alarmed.

“Having that sudden sensation of my heart being out of whack and knowing that something was wrong was really frightening,” said Sogge, who works for the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Sogge went to the ER, thinking maybe she was having a heart attack. At the time, Arizona was seeing what were then record numbers of positive COVID-19 cases.

It wasn’t a heart attack. She said doctors told her they suspected a panic attack and sent her home. The symptoms, however, didn’t subside, so she went back and got a COVID-19 test. A few days later she learned she had tested positive for the virus.

Michelle Sogge out on a hike

Courtesy

Michelle Sogge out on a hike

Search for answers

Sogge, who is still feeling debilitating effects from COVID-19, is part of a group of people called “long-haulers” — people whose side effects from COVID-19 persist and can make everyday tasks a grueling challenge. According to UC Davis Health, researchers estimate that roughly 10% of coronavirus patients become long-haulers.

The long-term symptoms, and their severity, vary. Marina Oshana, a professor emerita of philosophy at UC Davis, said in a December webcast put on by the university that her long-term side effects have been fatigue and breathing issues.

The condition affects the young and old alike, from otherwise healthy people to those with underlying conditions. It can impact those who were hospitalized with COVID-19 to patients with mild symptoms.

Sogge eventually came to California with her dad to seek care once living alone was no longer possible. (In some of her most dire moments, Sogge said she was so weak she was having to crawl across her floor to answer the door.) Once in the Sacramento area, she was referred to a still-forming UC Davis Health clinic created to help and learn about people like her.

Doctors with the Post-COVID-19 Clinic are examining those who have survived the virus but suffer lingering symptoms that can include respiratory issues, heart problems, fatigue, neurological concerns and more. Their goal is to find answers as to why some who contract the virus experience side effects that last for months.

For Sogge, her main long-term symptoms have been trouble breathing and chest pain, along with fatigue and not being able to think clearly.

While at the clinic, doctors conducted a slew of tests, searching for answers on Sogge’s condition. They also developed a personalized care plan for Sogge. Now back in Arizona, she says she continues to use the treatment plan that UC Davis Health gave her.

“I’m still limited in 90% of the things that I would have been able to do before I got COVID. I would love to be able to go outside and take a walk around my house. I definitely know I can’t do that today,” she said.

Michelle Sogge

Courtesy

Michelle Sogge, 25, who participated in the UC Davis Post-COVID-19 Clinic, continues to experience symptoms that make everyday tasks a challenge.

Many unknowns

As with Sogge and others, doctors haven’t yet been able to determine why her life in particular was turned upside down by COVID-19. For most people, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.

“One common theory about patients with long-term COVID-19 symptoms is that the virus possibly remains in their bodies in some small form. Another theory is their immune systems continue to overreact even though the infection has passed,” UC Davis Health said in a December article.

Sogge isn’t sure how she contracted the virus. The only memory that sticks out in her mind is going to a gas station and encountering someone who wasn’t wearing a mask.

She said she hopes sharing her story motivates people to listen to science when it comes to wearing facial coverings and social distancing. She also hopes she helps others become more aware of the potential long-term effects of the virus that don’t result in death.

“It’s not a dual choice of being alive and being healthy or being dead from COVID. That’s not what we’re talking about here,” she said. “We’re talking about all that messy stuff in between that long-haulers are facing, where, yes, your life may not be over but it may be changed in ways that are difficult to imagine and absolutely haunting to experience.”

Sogge says support from her family, friends and online groups has been key. And with so many people investigating COVID-19, she hopes that one day someone will be able to provide answers to her.

“There’s so much research going into this disease. There’s so much attention on it right now, it’s such a huge priority for so many different countries, that I’m hoping that one day, they’ll be able to find that out,” she said.

Have a story to share about your experience with COVID-19? Let us know at news@kcra.com.

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