Anxiety about long-haul Covid what 54-year-old man talks

2021.12.29 06:30
After the "fifth wave" of novel coronavirus infection, the number of newly infected people in Japan has decreased significantly. However, infected people continue to struggle with Corona. A 54-year-old man living in Kita-ku, Tokyo talked about his hospitalization for a month and a half and his current situation of suffering from sequelae ( long-haul Covid).

It is difficult for the man to commute to work because they are out of breath when walking in line with the flow of people at stations.

◆Difficult to walk 10 meters

The man who appeared at the meeting place with a reporter was on his way home from rehab. "At one point, I weighed 12 kilograms less than before the infection." Man's steps are slow. He is out of breath when he walks at the pace of those around him. It's hard to go out. After the interview, I received an email from a man saying "I came home safely".
The man felt tired at the end of July this year and had a fever of 39.5 degrees a few days later. He also started to feel stuffy. When he called the fever counseling center, the counselor at the center said, "Call an ambulance yourself." An ambulance came, but it couldn't find a hospital to treat him. Fortunately, a nearby hospital did the test. After undergoing computed tomography (CT), pneumonia was progressing and the man was told by a doctor that he had a corona infection.
However, in early August, the sickbed was tight due to the "fifth wave", and the man was treated at home. He took the medicine he received as if he was praying, but his symptoms worsened and he was hospitalized. However, it is difficult to find a hospital. The man received a phone call from the hospital on the morning of the sixth day when he was anxious. He told the doctor that he couldn't find a place to stay, and he said, "Some people are leaving today, so come to our hospital." He could barely walk about 10 meters to get into the pick-up car. "I later heard that there were quite a few people who died at home. It was dangerous."

◆Whether or not life is saved is fifty-fifty

Man with mobile phone

When the man arrived at the hospital, he couldn't stand up anymore. He was taken to the hospital room in a wheelchair and put in a urine collection tube and an oxygen inhalation mask. Still, his lungs got worse and his blood oxygen level was just over 90%. If the blood oxygen concentration drops below 90%, it is a dangerous condition that requires a respirator. "If I move a little to change the position of my back because it is painful, it will be less than 90%, and the nurse will fly with a peep peep and an alarm. Also, if I get suffocated and move my body, the alarm will sound," he said. Such a state continued for 3 or 4 days.
"One morning, when I took another CT, a ventilator was brought into the hospital room. I heard that I would put a tube through my throat, so I wanted to avoid it, but it was dangerous if I didn't put it on" The man said.
"I was told that I would be anesthetized when I put on my respiratory system, so I would stay asleep for about 10 days. I contacted my brother, sister, friends, workplace, etc. by email on my mobile phone. After that I was asleep. When I woke up after 10 days, I was moved to an unfamiliar place. I was just wondering where it was, and I didn't know how lucky I was to wake up at that time."
"When I tried to look at my cell phone, it was too heavy to hold. I'm not physically fit and I can't type. It took me two and a half hours to send a three-line email to my workplace."
A group of friends who had forgotten to contact was in a fuss. "The message is not read. What happened!" But that worry wasn't an exaggeration. "I heard later from my brother that my doctor told me that there was a 50-50 chance that my life would be saved."
At that time, even if the symptoms worsened, there were cases where people died without finding a transfer destination such as a university hospital specializing in severe illness. "When I asked the doctor later, he said that if my condition suddenly changed, in the worst case, I wouldn't wake up. I'm glad that the email I sent wasn't the last farewell."

◆ Maybe the life span has been shortened by several years

The man attending rehabilitation

"What surprised me most when I woke up was that I couldn't stand up at all. I managed to sit in bed for a short time. When I sit down, the muscles around my waist hurt. I found out that I use the muscles in this place to sit down."
"After a few days, I moved to the general ward and mainly rehabilitation. I could hardly walk for the first week, and sometimes I cried in front of a rehab therapist. I was worried that I couldn't walk like I used to, and I burst into tears. At the very least, I was able to walk and was discharged from the hospital in mid-September. Although I can walk, Slowly on a flat place. Not only stairs, but also gentle slopes are useless."
"It was difficult to commute to work, so I gave up on extending my work contract. I could tolerate one station by train, but I couldn't change trains. I can't climb the stairs without resting, and I can't walk as fast as the flow of people. I went to a supermarket a little far away for shopping, but it was still hard when there was a slope."
"When I was discharged from the hospital and had an examination, I was shocked when my doctor told me that my lungs were 95 years old. However, after that, I was told that if I do my best in rehabilitation for a year, I will be able to return to my original life, and I have set a goal to do my best."
"For rehabilitation, I go to a sports club almost every weekday. Move the strength training machine as much as you can.I can't do aerobic exercise yet, but my strength has gradually returned," he says. "There will be a second test at the end of this year. Looking at the results, I'm thinking of finding a job. However, I am worried whether I will return to a healthy body in a year. I'm worried about what happens to my damaged lungs if I get sick in the future. I think maybe my life has shortened by a few years."
In some countries in Europe, the infection with the novel coronavirus has spread rapidly and the beds have become tight, and the infection is spreading in South Korea. The spread of Omicron strains is also a concern. The man complains, "I thought that even if I got infected, it would be cured in about two weeks. It's actually a more serious illness. I want you to know that it may affect you in the future."

This article is composed using Google Translate customized exclusively for The Chunichi Shimbun. The translation may have limited accuracy.