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Scott Krakower, child psychiatrist, poses in front of his home in Port Washington, Long Island, New York, on July 8, 2020
Scott Krakower, a child psychiatrist at a New York hospital, was diagnosed with covid-19 in mid-April, but three months later there are still days that he feels extremely fatigued, gasps for breath, or suffers from hoarseness that barely allows him to speak. .
This 40-year-old New York doctor is part of a wave of patients called long-haulers in English, whose recovery periods extend beyond the nearly two weeks it takes on average. to recovered patients.
Krakower told . that some days he doubts himself and wonders if he should not be at work again, if the symptoms he is experiencing are real, until, for example, he goes for a walk and because of his voice on the phone his wife or parents may feel like they are panting.
This phenomenon is attributed to a post-viral disease of which little is still known but which is increasingly reported by patients, who share their experiences in forums such as the Covid Largo Support Group, on Facebook, which has more than 5,000 members. .
« Just when I think I’m on a hot streak and I have three or four good days, I have three or four hours when I can’t speak again or my lymph node starts to swell on the right side of my neck, » Krakower said in an interview by video call from home on Long Island.
Krakower worked as a unit chief in the psychiatry department at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Queens, which is where he suspects he was infected during the epidemic in New York.
First he lost his sense of smell and taste – « it all tasted like rubber, » he recalls -, then an annoying cough that kept him from teleworking, until he lost his voice completely.
About three and a half weeks later, in addition to chills and a high fever, he began to cough so violently that he spat blood. He could no longer swallow and his voice grew sharp. He ended up in an emergency room.
– Post-viral phase –
« The swelling (of the larynx) he was experiencing was from a post-viral inflammation that occurred weeks after the virus, » said doctor Robert Glatter, who treated Karkower.
As a precaution, Krakower isolated himself from his wife and children for five weeks, which were especially difficult for the family.
His two-year-old daughter Hazel and his four-month-old son Evan saw him only through video calls, which Krakower used to « join » loved ones at dinner or to read stories to them before bed.
« I really didn’t want anyone to go through what I went through, » he said, adding that it still leaves him sensitive to think about his quarantine. After two negative coronavirus examinations, he was released from confinement.
According to Glatter, Krakower’s fatigue is similar to what has been documented in other diseases that cause chronic fatigue syndrome.
Scientists do not know why it happens, but Glatter considers that it could be related to an injury to the mitochondria, a part of cells responsible for generating energy.
For Glatter, those who experience these symptoms for a long time should not succumb to the confusion that may be caused by doctors, other people or themselves, by attributing the symptoms to anxiety.
« This is real, » said Glatter. « This is not in people’s heads. This is what they live every day, what they publish online. »