In this week’s Intentional Living we look at the lingering battle against Covid that millions of Americans are fighting – months after being diagnosed with the disease. An estimated five-to-ten percent of Covid patients are “long haulers” who feel endlessly trapped in the virus’s grip.

After enduring Covid this past December, 38 year old Camille Hlavka, a dedicated marathon runner, now often gasps for breath, as was obvious just a few minutes into the interview. Out of breath Camille says, “Sorry, this happens a lot when I try to speak for longer sentences.”

Now her most cherished activities are a struggle…including story time with her two year old son, Reid. She tells us the hardest part is, “Feeling like I”m not myself. I never realized, what a gift it was to just be able to speak.

Ear, Nose and Throat Dr. Diana Kirke of Mount Sinai Hospital found vocal cord weakness that impaired Hlavka’s speech and breathing, a likely nerve injury from Covid. Dr. Kirke tells us this about Hlavka’s tests, “What you can see immediately is that the right side is weaker than the left side.”

It is a surprising addition to what’s known as long haul syndrome. Other symptoms include fatigue, headache, brain fog, depression. and anxiety. The NIH is spending $1.15 billion dollars to study the problem. Dr. Kirke adds, “a lot of the patients, they don’t understand why they have these breathing troubles when their lung function tests are normal.”

Hlavka is now getting therapy to relearn the most natural thing in the world…breathing.

If you are having any symptoms you think might just be in your head, check with your doctor.