His symptoms just wouldn’t go away.
Even after Murrells Inlet resident Buddy Hucks, 63, was released from Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital following a life-threatening battle with COVID-19, he continued to struggle with lingering effects from the disease.
After losing 40 pounds due to the illness, he was weak and plagued by a dry cough and persistent brain fog.
“For the first week, I could hardly understand what was on TV,” Hucks says. “It was like they were talking too fast for me.”
Lingering symptoms common
Hucks is among a group of people known as COVID-19 “long-haulers” who suffer from lingering symptoms weeks or months after they no longer test positive for the disease. Although researchers are still learning about the causes and frequency of the condition, it’s estimated that 10 to 30 percent of people with COVID-19 are afflicted.
Symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, memory loss, chronic cough, anxiety, depression and more. Research suggests so-called “long COVID” is most common among people following hospitalization for COVID-19, but it is also frequently found among people who had mild cases of the disease.
“Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict who will become a long-hauler,” says Tidelands Health family medicine physician Dr. Lisa Centilli, who practices at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at The Market Common. “It can affect people of any age or background, including people who were quite healthy before their initial illness.”
Dr. Centilli understands how difficult long COVID can be. She is still battling fatigue and other lingering symptoms following her own COVID-19 infection last year.
Her personal experience is one of the reasons why she’s a strong supporter of the new Tidelands Health Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program, a comprehensive, coordinated care and treatment program for COVID-19 long-haulers. The program provides customized care and support based on the specific symptoms a patient is experiencing.
Make an appointment today
If you are experiencing lingering effects from a COVID-19 infection, the Tidelands Health Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program can help. Make an appointment today by calling 1-866-TIDELANDS.
Anyone whose symptoms have persisted for at least three weeks since a COVID-19 diagnosis is eligible for the program, regardless of where someone received care for the initial infection.
“Help is available,” Dr. Centilli says. “Please don’t simply accept lingering COVID-19 symptoms as a fact of life.”
'Miracles can happen'
Two weeks after his release from the hospital in the fall, Hucks returned to his job as president of real estate appraisal firm EF Hucks and Associates and EF Hucks Consulting, though he continued to battle lingering symptoms from his illness.
“Admittedly, my mind was not as sharp as I wanted it to be,” he says. “There were tasks I was unable to accomplish.”
Hucks was happy to return to work following his battle with COVID-19, although he continued to struggle with brain fog and a persistent cough that took eight weeks to resolve.
Still, he fought to get back to his old self. He began to work out at the gym three times per week to build up his strength, and eventually – after about eight weeks or so – his persistent cough finally went away.
Fueled by his vigorous workout routine, Hucks is feeling better today than he did before his battle with COVID-19, though his struggles with the illness are never far from his mind.
He regularly shares X-rays of his lungs from his time in the hospital to provide hope to others whose loved ones are facing difficult battles with the disease.
“If my lungs were a football field, only half the end zone was clear,” he says. “Within about 24 hours, 50 percent of my lungs were clear. That’s just to say, ‘Don’t give up. Miracles can happen.’”