'Wacky' symptoms, neurological issues part of daily life for Flamborough and area COVID long-haulers

News Sep 28, 2020 by Julia Lovett-Squires Flamborough Review

Shannon Mitchell-Taylor almost doesn’t remember what feeling healthy is like.

“I was a really active person — I would get up at 6 a.m. and walk to work and work all day in a preschool classroom and then pick up my daughter from school, just have really busy, active days,” said the Hamilton resident, who uses they/them pronouns. “I can’t think of things, I can’t remember things. I’m exhausted, I’m weak, I’m dizzy."

In March, just before schools shut down for an extended March Break that would last the remainder of the academic year, Mitchell-Taylor got sick.

Within days of first feeling ill, the sickness had taken hold. With no access to testing, it was, they believe, COVID-19, symptoms of which they continue to experience.

Mitchell-Taylor is a COVID-19 long-hauler. The term is used to describe people who are no longer infected by the contagious virus, but continue to suffer symptoms months later.

The Hamilton resident is not alone.

Flamborough’s Ruth Castellanos suffered COVID-19 symptoms starting in May. The following month, she was diagnosed with post-viral syndrome and while she tested negative for the novel coronavirus, she said doctors believe her test was a false negative.

“I had shortness of breath, followed by a fever, followed by a cough, tremors, chills,” said Castellanos, adding that she also suffered gastrointestinal upsets, muscle weakness and joint pain.

Four months later, she is still experiencing symptoms, along with neurological issues.

According to Dr. John Connolly, professor and director of the ARiEAL Research Centre at McMaster University and chief science officer at VoxNeuro, long-haulers are experiencing symptoms not dissimilar to those living with the long-term effects caused by concussions.

“If you’ve ever had a concussion or seen anyone with a concussion, you’ll notice a sort of brain fog and that’s a term they’re using with COVID,” he said.

Connolly, who has been doing research in neuroscience for the past 30 years, said COVID-19 patients are not just expressing trouble with concentration, their information processing is delayed — similar to the impacts of suffering from some sort of brain trauma.

Castellanos knows the brain fog and other neurological issues too well. From mass confusion to slurring and forgetting her words and short-term memory impairments, the Flamborough woman has noticed a difference in her cognitive abilities.

“It’s just very concerning,” she said.

As she navigates through the fog, she doesn’t know what the next day will bring or what challenges she’ll face. Every day, she said, is a “surprise.”

“I think that there’s just such cloudiness that I am concerned about my short-term memory; I’m concerned about my brain health for the long run because I don’t know when this is going to end.”

For Mitchell-Taylor, the usual COVID-19 symptoms were paired with a range of “wacky” ones, like pressure and pain in their head and ears, vertigo, gastrointestinal issues, olfactory issues and even “phantom smell.”

“It’s been really frustrating,” said Mitchell-Taylor.

And while they felt frustrated and even “a little angry at times,” they remember that there are still many unknowns related to COVID.

They find comfort and support on social media, where they have joined groups made up of other long-haulers who are facing similar health challenges.

The impacts of COVID have had a ripple effect on their family, with Mitchell-Taylor explaining that with a daughter at home they’ve been limited in what they can do with her because they tire so easily.

"I can’t drive her to places. I have felt useless as a person,” they said. “You sort of feel like you’re a drain on your family. It’s been a big hit to my sense of self-worth actually.”

Castellanos is also feeling frustrated — with her health and the health-care system.

“They’re trying to help me as best as they can with the knowledge that they have so far,” she said. However, she has found some doctors have been unable to provide the help, support and guidance she needs, with some noting that “this is outside of our practice.”

This is what compelled Castellanos to share her story and what she has been going through. “I can’t suffer in vain,” she said.

Peer support is available on the COVID Long-Haulers Canada Facebook Group. For more information on COVID-19 research, visit www.cancovid.ca.

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: After hearing about people who have been living with COVID-19 symptoms for an extended period of the time, the Review connected with two "long-haulers," who shared their experiences in the hopes of raising awareness of post-viral syndrome.

'Wacky' symptoms, neurological issues part of daily life for Flamborough and area COVID long-haulers

COVID-19 maintains tight hold on some people who are still experiencing symptoms months later

News Sep 28, 2020 by Julia Lovett-Squires Flamborough Review

Shannon Mitchell-Taylor almost doesn’t remember what feeling healthy is like.

“I was a really active person — I would get up at 6 a.m. and walk to work and work all day in a preschool classroom and then pick up my daughter from school, just have really busy, active days,” said the Hamilton resident, who uses they/them pronouns. “I can’t think of things, I can’t remember things. I’m exhausted, I’m weak, I’m dizzy."

In March, just before schools shut down for an extended March Break that would last the remainder of the academic year, Mitchell-Taylor got sick.

Within days of first feeling ill, the sickness had taken hold. With no access to testing, it was, they believe, COVID-19, symptoms of which they continue to experience.

Related Content

Mitchell-Taylor is a COVID-19 long-hauler. The term is used to describe people who are no longer infected by the contagious virus, but continue to suffer symptoms months later.

The Hamilton resident is not alone.

Flamborough’s Ruth Castellanos suffered COVID-19 symptoms starting in May. The following month, she was diagnosed with post-viral syndrome and while she tested negative for the novel coronavirus, she said doctors believe her test was a false negative.

“I had shortness of breath, followed by a fever, followed by a cough, tremors, chills,” said Castellanos, adding that she also suffered gastrointestinal upsets, muscle weakness and joint pain.

Four months later, she is still experiencing symptoms, along with neurological issues.

According to Dr. John Connolly, professor and director of the ARiEAL Research Centre at McMaster University and chief science officer at VoxNeuro, long-haulers are experiencing symptoms not dissimilar to those living with the long-term effects caused by concussions.

“If you’ve ever had a concussion or seen anyone with a concussion, you’ll notice a sort of brain fog and that’s a term they’re using with COVID,” he said.

Connolly, who has been doing research in neuroscience for the past 30 years, said COVID-19 patients are not just expressing trouble with concentration, their information processing is delayed — similar to the impacts of suffering from some sort of brain trauma.

Castellanos knows the brain fog and other neurological issues too well. From mass confusion to slurring and forgetting her words and short-term memory impairments, the Flamborough woman has noticed a difference in her cognitive abilities.

“It’s just very concerning,” she said.

As she navigates through the fog, she doesn’t know what the next day will bring or what challenges she’ll face. Every day, she said, is a “surprise.”

“I think that there’s just such cloudiness that I am concerned about my short-term memory; I’m concerned about my brain health for the long run because I don’t know when this is going to end.”

For Mitchell-Taylor, the usual COVID-19 symptoms were paired with a range of “wacky” ones, like pressure and pain in their head and ears, vertigo, gastrointestinal issues, olfactory issues and even “phantom smell.”

“It’s been really frustrating,” said Mitchell-Taylor.

And while they felt frustrated and even “a little angry at times,” they remember that there are still many unknowns related to COVID.

They find comfort and support on social media, where they have joined groups made up of other long-haulers who are facing similar health challenges.

The impacts of COVID have had a ripple effect on their family, with Mitchell-Taylor explaining that with a daughter at home they’ve been limited in what they can do with her because they tire so easily.

"I can’t drive her to places. I have felt useless as a person,” they said. “You sort of feel like you’re a drain on your family. It’s been a big hit to my sense of self-worth actually.”

Castellanos is also feeling frustrated — with her health and the health-care system.

“They’re trying to help me as best as they can with the knowledge that they have so far,” she said. However, she has found some doctors have been unable to provide the help, support and guidance she needs, with some noting that “this is outside of our practice.”

This is what compelled Castellanos to share her story and what she has been going through. “I can’t suffer in vain,” she said.

Peer support is available on the COVID Long-Haulers Canada Facebook Group. For more information on COVID-19 research, visit www.cancovid.ca.

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: After hearing about people who have been living with COVID-19 symptoms for an extended period of the time, the Review connected with two "long-haulers," who shared their experiences in the hopes of raising awareness of post-viral syndrome.

'Wacky' symptoms, neurological issues part of daily life for Flamborough and area COVID long-haulers

COVID-19 maintains tight hold on some people who are still experiencing symptoms months later

News Sep 28, 2020 by Julia Lovett-Squires Flamborough Review

Shannon Mitchell-Taylor almost doesn’t remember what feeling healthy is like.

“I was a really active person — I would get up at 6 a.m. and walk to work and work all day in a preschool classroom and then pick up my daughter from school, just have really busy, active days,” said the Hamilton resident, who uses they/them pronouns. “I can’t think of things, I can’t remember things. I’m exhausted, I’m weak, I’m dizzy."

In March, just before schools shut down for an extended March Break that would last the remainder of the academic year, Mitchell-Taylor got sick.

Within days of first feeling ill, the sickness had taken hold. With no access to testing, it was, they believe, COVID-19, symptoms of which they continue to experience.

Related Content

Mitchell-Taylor is a COVID-19 long-hauler. The term is used to describe people who are no longer infected by the contagious virus, but continue to suffer symptoms months later.

The Hamilton resident is not alone.

Flamborough’s Ruth Castellanos suffered COVID-19 symptoms starting in May. The following month, she was diagnosed with post-viral syndrome and while she tested negative for the novel coronavirus, she said doctors believe her test was a false negative.

“I had shortness of breath, followed by a fever, followed by a cough, tremors, chills,” said Castellanos, adding that she also suffered gastrointestinal upsets, muscle weakness and joint pain.

Four months later, she is still experiencing symptoms, along with neurological issues.

According to Dr. John Connolly, professor and director of the ARiEAL Research Centre at McMaster University and chief science officer at VoxNeuro, long-haulers are experiencing symptoms not dissimilar to those living with the long-term effects caused by concussions.

“If you’ve ever had a concussion or seen anyone with a concussion, you’ll notice a sort of brain fog and that’s a term they’re using with COVID,” he said.

Connolly, who has been doing research in neuroscience for the past 30 years, said COVID-19 patients are not just expressing trouble with concentration, their information processing is delayed — similar to the impacts of suffering from some sort of brain trauma.

Castellanos knows the brain fog and other neurological issues too well. From mass confusion to slurring and forgetting her words and short-term memory impairments, the Flamborough woman has noticed a difference in her cognitive abilities.

“It’s just very concerning,” she said.

As she navigates through the fog, she doesn’t know what the next day will bring or what challenges she’ll face. Every day, she said, is a “surprise.”

“I think that there’s just such cloudiness that I am concerned about my short-term memory; I’m concerned about my brain health for the long run because I don’t know when this is going to end.”

For Mitchell-Taylor, the usual COVID-19 symptoms were paired with a range of “wacky” ones, like pressure and pain in their head and ears, vertigo, gastrointestinal issues, olfactory issues and even “phantom smell.”

“It’s been really frustrating,” said Mitchell-Taylor.

And while they felt frustrated and even “a little angry at times,” they remember that there are still many unknowns related to COVID.

They find comfort and support on social media, where they have joined groups made up of other long-haulers who are facing similar health challenges.

The impacts of COVID have had a ripple effect on their family, with Mitchell-Taylor explaining that with a daughter at home they’ve been limited in what they can do with her because they tire so easily.

"I can’t drive her to places. I have felt useless as a person,” they said. “You sort of feel like you’re a drain on your family. It’s been a big hit to my sense of self-worth actually.”

Castellanos is also feeling frustrated — with her health and the health-care system.

“They’re trying to help me as best as they can with the knowledge that they have so far,” she said. However, she has found some doctors have been unable to provide the help, support and guidance she needs, with some noting that “this is outside of our practice.”

This is what compelled Castellanos to share her story and what she has been going through. “I can’t suffer in vain,” she said.

Peer support is available on the COVID Long-Haulers Canada Facebook Group. For more information on COVID-19 research, visit www.cancovid.ca.

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: After hearing about people who have been living with COVID-19 symptoms for an extended period of the time, the Review connected with two "long-haulers," who shared their experiences in the hopes of raising awareness of post-viral syndrome.