SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A vast majority of people diagnosed with COVID-19 survive. The disease, however, has brought some survivors to the brink. Some have dealt with health issues that last well beyond infection.
Conditions taking place weeks or perhaps months past infection are called post-COVID, long COVID or long-haul COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 44-year-old Shawn Ericsson of Sioux Falls was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March. Symptoms for him were immediately heavy. He was in the ICU with COVID-19 for two weeks. Then, the day he was intubated, he made some videos.
“I was very confident I was going to make it but I also made videos to everyone for the chance that I didn’t make it, and just kind of those I guess farewells and something that they could hold onto I guess if I didn’t make it,” Ericsson said.
While he did make it, it’s been quite the journey.
“At the worst was certainly right before intubation, and it was just that feeling of really breathing underwater,” Ericsson said.
“He literally communicated by looking at a chart and blinking after we’d say, is it an A, B, C, he’d have to spell things out, he literally couldn’t even lift a finger, he was so much atrophy,” wife Stacia Ericsson said.
“Learning how to sit up again, learning how to stand, learning how to walk, learning how to step up two inches on a step, all those things were nearly impossible,” Shawn Ericsson said.
Physical therapist Rochelle Wurth worked with Shawn.
“He was using oxygen just for walking,” Wurth said. “At the time when he started he could walk six minutes continuously but had to have oxygen on throughout all that, by the time he was discharged he came in without oxygen.”
“I have to continuously stretch throughout the day … when I wake up, I have to do breathing exercises,” Shawn Ericsson said.
He was in his forties with good health and no preexisting conditions, but COVID-19 dramatically shook his world.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t get through it, and don’t let one of those people be you,” Shawn Ericsson said. “Get the COVID vaccine.”
Now in late November, Shawn marvels at the world he is around to savor.
“The sunsets seem a little prettier, and the sky seems a lot more amazing,” he said.