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A Kansas City woman says long COVID 'turned my entire world upside down'

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Annie Spratt
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Experiencing COVID symptoms — including fatigue, brain fog and heart palpitations — weeks, months or even years after contracting the illness, is referred to as long COVID.

Sophie Day didn’t realize she had long COVID until she fainted and fell down a flight of stairs, breaking her collar bone. Since then, she’s been seeing an occupational therapist at University Health’s Center for COVID Recovery, which has helped her manage her debilitating fatigue.

Most people who get COVID-19 recover after a few weeks, but for some, symptoms — including fatigue, brain fog and heart palpitations — persist long after testing negative for the virus. That's what doctors refer to as "long COVID."

Sophie Day, a Kansas City woman living with long COVID, didn’t realize she had the condition until she fainted and fell down a flight of stairs, breaking her collar bone.

“I would say that it has completely turned my entire world upside down,” Day told KCUR’s Up To Date. “I went from being an endurance athlete to having an absolute intolerance to pretty much any kind of exercise.”

Day says she learned to manage her symptoms, which include debilitating chronic fatigue and brain fog, with the help of Jenna Hopkins, a local occupational therapist.

Hopkins is based at University Health’s Center for COVID Recovery and has worked with around 100 long COVID patients since 2021. Hopkins said there are many different treatment options to help patients manage their symptoms.

“The big, No. 1 thing that we've been working on for the last three years is something called pacing. And that means maximizing your energy use,” Hopkins explained. “It's basically an energy budget”.

Day said even the most loving, well-intentioned people in her life can have trouble understanding how long COVID has affected her.

“If they're not spending time with me on a daily basis, it can still just be hard to understand what my life looks like now," Day said.

However, seeing Hopkins has helped Day adjust to her life with long COVID.

“The validation that you get of working with someone who understands what you are experiencing is huge and really cannot be overstated,” she said.

  • Sophie Day, Kansas City resident with long COVID
  • Jenna Hopkins, occupational therapist at University Health’s Center for COVID Recovery
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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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