ROSEVILLE (CBS13) — Recovery from COVID-19 is still a mystery, especially to a group of thousands of survivors who say they’re still sick months later. Doctors are calling them “long-haulers.”

COVID survivor Joe Maldonado.

Now, almost 10 months into the pandemic, younger patients who’ve had mild cases of the coronavirus are showing up in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms with mysterious symptoms. Those doctors are still trying to find out what’s causing the symptoms.

“I’m just foggy, but it’s 24/7. It’s miserable, absolutely miserable,” said Joe Maldonado.

He says he feels like he’s living with a bad hangover that never goes away. It’s gotten so bad that he’s ended up in the emergency room twice.

“Fatigued, tired, short of breath, sweating,” he said.

Outside his Roseville home, Maldonado says he’s struggled for months to have his symptoms taken seriously by doctors, and is still not able to return to work.

“No doctors know, no one knows what’s going on,” he said.

A father of six, Maldonado says his family, including his English bulldog Bella, have helped him through this.

“Some people say we kind of breath alike,” he said.

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Doctors too are mystified. Dr. Lynn Bagge works with the “Kaiser COVID” team. She says this condition is serious and isn’t something doctors could have predicted at the onset of the virus last spring.

“What we’ve learned is that it exists. I think what’s helpful for patients when we’re able to tell them that, ‘yes this can happen, and this can be a part of your process,’” Dr. Bagge said.

She says treatment and symptoms vary by patient. Maldonado has tried everything from vitamins to green juice and nothing’s worked. But he’s just happy to be alive and says not everyone is so lucky.

“You know what? I’m breathing,” he said, “Having six kids, every second is beautiful. I don’t wish this upon anybody.”

UC Davis Medical Center created a “long-hauler” recovery program where they’re working to study and treat “long-haulers.” Maldonado is part of a network of more than 30,000 “long-haulers” on social media.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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