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‘It’s been a nightmare’: Long COVID patient details struggle to recovery

A Denham Springs woman has spent the last six months recovering from COVID, and she is still fighting to have a normal life.
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 11:05 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Most people can recover from COVID after about two weeks but not Carla Bielkiewicz.

“It was a nightmare. It’s been a nightmare,” Bielkiewicz said.

Bielkiewicz tested positive for COVID the day after Christmas in December 2021, but she was not vaccinated.

In a matter of days, she was placed on a ventilator, and weeks later she was paralyzed from the waist down.

“The only thing I could wiggle was my feet. Nothing else. My head and my feet, and one finger,” Bielkiewicz said.

She said there was a point that doctors told her family to say their goodbyes.

“They were told that I might not make it. They told them to prepare,” Bielkiewicz said.

Bielkiewicz managed to pull through months later, but her fight was far from over.

She has what doctors call ‘Long COVID.’

This is a condition where someone still experiences symptoms weeks, and even months after catching the virus. In this case, Bielkiewicz is going on six consecutive months with symptoms. She says she had to learn how to walk and breathe on her own again. 

“I’m my mother’s caregiver. I’m my husband’s caregiver at home. So not being able to go home and do what I need to do felt useless. So many times, I laid up in the hospital bed crying because I couldn’t do what I wanted and needed to do. My responsibilities,” Bielkiewicz said.

Since each case of Long COVID is unique, experts are still trying to figure out how cases can begin. 

“I’ve seen people a year out that are continuing their therapy in our outpatient department a year out and they still have oxygen requirements. Some of them are still using walkers and some not,” said Kellye Chappellie, a physical therapist from Baton Rouge Rehab Hospital.

Carla has made progress over the last few weeks at the Baton Rouge Rehab Hospital, but she has a long way to go. 

“It is a long road, a long road,” Chappellie said. However, this staff is determined to get her back to a somewhat normal life. 

“I’m determined just as much as they are mentally that I’m going to get back my life,” Bielkiewicz said.

Bielkiewicz will get discharged Wednesday, June 22. She hopes sharing her story will continue to make people take COVID seriously and take the proper steps to stay safe against the virus.

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