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A sign that runner Natalie Hakala is making progress in her recovery from COVID-19: she can finish her sets now. Just a few weeks ago, after a few words, she had to stop to catch her breath.
Struggling to talk is just one of the problems Hakala, 22, has had in the two months since she was diagnosed with COVID-19. It is a so-called COVID-19 long haul, the symptoms of which persist for weeks or months. Hakala described a fast heart rate, brain fog, and persistent headache unlike any headache she̵
“It’s right behind my eyes,” she said Runner world. “Usually you can put pressure on your temples or neck to relieve the pressure. It’s behind my eyeballs, right back there. My face feels puffy when that makes sense. ”
Hakala – a talented distance runner with a best time of 2:17 in 800 meters – finished her senior year at Concordia University Division II in Irvine, California when the school closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of starting her final track season, she went home to Eugene, Oregon, where she lived with her parents and younger brothers. She followed the CDC’s recommendations and was quarantined by her family for two weeks when she got home. She finished her courses online and completed her studies virtually without contacting anyone outside her family.
In early July, she and five other college friends camped out in the woods about an hour from Eugene to celebrate their graduation. They thought this was the safest way to get together. But shortly after returning home, one of the six who traveled from Seattle tested positive for COVID-19.
On July 5th, Hakala lost her sense of smell. Her sense of taste went down a few days after that. Then her fever rose – and she returned to quarantine. She mostly spent two weeks outside in a hammock while her family stayed six feet away, wearing masks.
Ultimately, five of the six people on the camping trip tested positive. But only Hakala experienced persistent symptoms.
Two weeks after her positive test, when Hakala was no longer contagious and her fever broke, she tried to take a short run. She made it about 100 meters before stopping to leave because her chest felt tight and her heart was racing.
Hakala tried to go back to work in an orthopedic practice, where she works as a cast technician. Even though she had a shorter schedule than usual, she struggled. She had to take the elevator instead of the stairs. One day she was breathless for 30 minutes after simply pouring a patient’s arm. She remembers how it wasn’t normal.
“I would go home at the end of the day and feel super uncomfortable and take an hour or two of naps,” she said.
According to the CDC, people with these symptoms can have COVID-19. If you suspect you have COVID-19, stop training and get tested.
“Fever or chills
” To cough
“Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
“Muscle or body pain
»New loss of taste or smell
“Congestion or runny nose
“Nausea or vomiting
At around 6:00 am on August 16, Hakala woke up with severe chest pain. She said it felt like someone was sitting on her chest and pressing something outward on her chest at the same time. She woke her mother, a nurse, and they went to the emergency room.
Your oxygen saturation is considered normal between 95 and 100 percent. Anything under 90 is considered low. Hakala was 79 years old. She was hospitalized and stayed for three nights. She has been diagnosed with costochondritis (inflammation of the cartilage in the chest), pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart), and pleurisy (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the lungs).
A few weeks after her hospital stay, Hakala began to show improvements, despite the dangerous air quality from nearby forest fires making it difficult for her to breathe. Running or any kind of exercise is still a long way off, but her experience as a runner helps her cope with it.
“I think it’s going to be insanely slow and kind of frustrating,” she said. “This is how you run – after months of training you get a PR of a second.”
After returning from a long hip injury that prevented her from running at the end of her high school days and early college, she developed patience. This long term helps her recovery as well.
“I’m used to getting the little things right and focusing on what I can control,” she said. “I’m just trying to do the same things now. I do breathing exercises. I know rest will be my best friend. “
In a Facebook post written by her mother Christy Hakala, she urged doubters to take the virus seriously.
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Hakala encourages others to avoid their mistakes. “We could have taken more precautions,” she said of the unfortunate camping trip. “I have taken [the virus] Seriously. But you always think that it won’t happen to you. They think, “There is no way my friends have it.” We should all have had ourselves tested beforehand. “
Some days, Hakala feels baffled – why does it make her tired of making a cup of coffee in the morning? On other days she is grateful that she is slowly getting better and that no one in her family gets sick.
“I want everything to be fixed and I want to see all of your friends,” she said. “But at the same time, I would never want this to happen to anyone else. Understand that the risk is not worth the reward. ”
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