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Local man shares experience with PTSD as a result of long-haul COVID

Posted at 10:59 AM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 11:59:49-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It might seem like the peak of the pandemic has become a memory of the past.

But for many, repercussions continue to linger.

From the loss of a loved one to those now living with ongoing symptoms.

Long-haul covid is something medical experts are trying to fully understand.

3 News Now anchor Vanessa Villafuerte spoke with one man who says he struggles with PTSD as a result of the virus.

Now, he’s fighting to reclaim the life he once had, post-covid.

“I was the guy that said that’s not going to happen to me, and if it does, it’s not going to be that bad,” Gary Hemingway, a long-haul covid patient said. “This totally blindsided me. I never expected this at all.”

Hemingway said he was sure he had nothing to worry about when it came to the coronavirus. But after a positive test, his health quickly deteriorated.

“One night I’m in my hospital room, I have 20 nurses and doctors rushing in getting ready to put me on a ventilator,” Hemingway said. “Six weeks later I wake up and it’s like, my whole life changed.”

Now, after a long and hard fight against the virus, he is sharing his story and the long-lasting side effects he is still dealing with today.

“She [the doctor] said, you have PTSD covid,” Hemingway said.

PTSD, on top of anxiety, fear and mobility issues. All a result of what’s called long-haul covid.

“Long haul covid is a myriad of symptoms,” Deb Tuttle, a CHI social worker said. “It can be brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, muscle and joint pain, depression, anxiety, some people are developing PTSD, after having been in the hospital, intubated.”

Tuttle said about 20-30% of people infected with covid experience long-haul symptoms.

“There's been an uptick in anxiety and depression since this virus came about,” Tuttle said. “There’s also PTSD related to experiencing the virus, the fear of death even if one isn’t hospitalized you see a lot of the depression and anxiety and trauma issues coming up.”

“If people have been hospitalized, there are nightmares and flashbacks,” Tuttle said. “There are memory gaps which really scare people if they were intubated and sedated for long periods of time.”

Nightmares and flashbacks that sound all too familiar to Hemingway, who said he’s grateful he was properly diagnosed. Now, the fight to reclaim his life continues.

“I’m getting a little better,” Hemingway said.

While life may never be the same for Hemingway, his message to others is one of encouragement.

“Anyone out there who’s struggling worse than I am, don’t give up,” Hemingway said. “Don’t be afraid to reach out for help because there’s help out there for you. I didn’t even realize I needed the help, and there’s probably a lot of people that are feeling the same way.”

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