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Teenage COVID-19 'long-hauler' creates resources to help others with long-term symptoms

Lydia Pastor, 16, is working to connect others who are battling long-term COVID-19 effects through her new website: Chronic Connections.

ARIZONA, USA — A Valley teen who is still experiencing COVID-19 symptoms a year after contracting the virus is using her journey to help other “long-haulers.” 

Lydia Pastor, 16, was diagnosed with long-hauler syndrome after seeing nearly a dozen specialists for her symptoms. 

“It was very scary,” Pastor said. “I had a very bad cough, I had very high fevers, night sweats, chills… I was so dizzy, that I needed help to walk throughout the house."

Long-haulers aren't uncommon with the coronavirus. A recent CDC study found that only 35% of people who experience COVID-19 symptoms are not better after two to three weeks and, sometimes, even longer.

Pastor is working to connect other teenage long-haulers who are battling long-term COVID-19 through her new website: Chronic Connections.

On the website, teens can share what they've experienced during their own battle with COVID-19. They can also request a free, handmade symptom tracking journal. 

"Something to rate their pain, fatigue, mood and combat their feelings of defeat and frustration with hope and positivity," Pastore said.  

A PCH rheumatologist diagnosed Pastor with chronic fatigue syndrome fibromyalgia as a result of having COVID-19. She caught the virus in February of 2020 while she was visiting a college campus.

“I was hit with the worst illness that I have ever endured in my life," she said. "The worst of the worst I think was realizing that once I was over the initial illness, these symptoms were not going to go away."

Pastore hopes she will be able to progress as time goes on through weekly physical and occupational therapy and pain clinic visits.

Find information on her website for COVID-19 long-haulers here.

A COVID-19 long-hauler is an individual who is characterized by having previously contracted and recovered from the worst impacts of COVID-19, but continues to experience lingering and often debilitating symptoms for more than 6 months post-infection. As time passes and more and more people reach this 6-month mark, it is estimated that between 10-20% of those infected with SARS-CoV-2 can become long haulers.

See the latest news about COVID-19, including doctor responses to questions about the coronavirus, on the 12 News YouTube playlist here.