CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Deborah Granda contracted the coronavirus and beat it, but is still dealing with the lingering symptoms.
She hopes sharing her journey will encourage more people to continue to take this deadly pandemic seriously.
Granda, who resides in Conway, contracted COVID-19 last March. Up until that point, she was in excellent health but says things changed drastically after her diagnosis.
“I was in the hospital,” said Granda. “It was pretty intense. I had days where I felt like I couldn’t survive. I could barely hold a phone, it was too heavy. It was as bad as I’ve ever been.”
When her health improved weeks later, Granda said medical workers allowed her to return home. However, it was under the condition someone would help care for her inside of the house.
She says her pet sitter moved in for about 10 days to assist her. Toward the end of May, Granda says she was able to start working from home a few hours at a time.
Now, nearly a year after her diagnosis, Granda says she’s still battling lingering symptoms that weren’t present before.
For her, those symptoms include brain fog, lung discomfort, and a daily headache.
“Today, in particular, I am dealing with a severe headache,” said Granda. “I typically wake up every morning with a headache. Most days it goes away after an hour or two on its own. Today, it’s after three in the afternoon and I’m still [experiencing] a pounding headache.”
Overall, Granda says the symptoms are slowly improving over time.
“I don’t wish this on anyone, I really don’t,” Granda said.
Granda says one of the most difficult parts of her journey happened in October when her sister passed away from COVID.
“My sister was a 20-year veteran of the Air Force,” she said. “The military was her life, along with her children, husband and grandchildren. I would like people to remember her as someone that was generous enough to give 20 years of her life to this nation. I’m here and my sister is not. So my message to everyone is to take this pandemic seriously. Because the cost to me has been exceptionally high.”
Granda says it’s important for her to share her experience with the community so people understand how those who contract the virus can potentially be impacted long after a diagnosis.
“While there are many COVID-19 patients that are sick for a few days and back up and running after a few weeks, there are [many people] that aren’t,” said Granda. “I don’t wish this on anyone. Those 8 weeks [of trying to beat this virus] were horrific. My time in the hospital was something I couldn’t have even imagined. I want people to take this pandemic seriously, I want them to wear a face mask, social distance. We need to do things safely.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says they’re actively working to learn more about the short and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health recently announced $1.1 billion in funding to allow the organization to study the long-term effects of COVID-19 for about four years.
Local health experts are also hopeful that more can be understood about those who have been termed “COVID long-haulers.”
“Hopefully over time, the people who are having these long-haul symptoms, will see their symptoms completely resolved,” said Dr. Paul Richardson, Chief Medical Officer for Conway Medical Center.
Richardson says the hospital has seen some cases of people with lingering symptoms.
“As we continue to learn more, more information may come out about possible treatment,” he said.
Granda said while she has been fully vaccinated, the doses have not alleviated her lingering symptoms.
“I had a very sore arm for about three days and that was it,” she said. “I haven’t seen an improvement in my [lingering] symptoms and I haven’t seen a decline, no changes.”
Granda further stated, she encourages people to get vaccinated, so the community can be steps closer to a life of normalcy.