An Oregon man has had his life turned upside down after a Covid-related hospital stay lasted nearly an entire year.
Alex Castro, 44, of Sandy – 20 miles southeast of Portland – was infected with COVID-19 last year before vaccines became widely available.
His health rapidly declined and he was rushed to the hospital, where he spent 299 days, reported CBS News.
Although Castro is no longer in the hospital, he is still struggling, and he reports that even a task as simple as walking across a room expends all the energy he has.
Castro is a part of a large group of survivors with a condition called ‘long Covid,’ in which a person still experiences symptoms of the virus weeks – or even months – after recovery.
While not much is known about the mysterious condition, including how to treat it, long Covid has caused massive disruptions to the lives of millions of Americans.
Alex Castro (pictured), of Sandy, Oregon, spent 299 days in the hospital – including 108 days on life-support – due to complications with COVID-19
Castro (left) ‘fought like an animal in order to survive his Covid bout, an ICU nurse who treated him said
Castro’s wife told CBS News that the family did not take the virus too seriously at first, believing it was nothing more than the seasonal flu.
However, he ended up suffering a serious case of the virus after he became infected.
He was admitted to Providence Portland Medical Center, where he would spend 299 days.
For 108 of those days, he was placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a life-support system where a machine helps circulate a person’s blood because their weakened heart cannot.
‘The health care workers and the nurses and the doctors all in the ICU, they were a godsend,’ AJ, Castro’s son, told CBS News.
‘They literally saved my dad’s life.’
Levi Cole, an ICU nurse who treated Castro, said that he ‘fought like an animal’ in order to survive.
Castro (pictured) is now at home, but is still suffering. He tells CBS that he has trouble performing simple tasks like walking across the room without getting tired
The man used to work three jobs in order to support his family, but now his wife and daughter are having to fill his role as a caretaker. Castro is like many other Americans whose lives have now been disrupted due to long Covid. Pictured: Castro goes on a walk in the hospital while hooked up to an ECMO machine
While he is now at home, Castro’s life – and that of his family – has been thrown into uncertainty following his long Covid bout.
He once worked three jobs to support his family, but now is in a condition where even standing up is considered a medical success.
Now, his wife and eldest daughter, Mari, are responsible for supporting the family.
He suffered severe damage to his kidneys and lungs and gets out of breath just walking to another room in his house.
‘Even like going to the bathroom, like walking with a walker with me to the bathroom, he’ll do pretty good and then it’ll literally just hit him out of nowhere,’ AJ told CBS News.
‘He’s just super tired and he’s out of breath and he’ll take a seat wherever he is just to catch his breath again.’
Castro is among millions of people who have had their life, work and relationships effective due to long Covid.
A study published Monday in the American Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine found that half of hospitalized patients who were employed full time when they contracted Covid were no longer working full time a year later.
The study, led by a team from Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, found that 82 percent of patients reported fatigue, 67 percent reported brain fog, 60 percent had headaches, 59 percent suffered sleep disturbances and 54 percent regular dizziness nearly a year after infection.
‘With millions of Americans at risk of developing [long Covid] by the end of the pandemic, a second, longer-term public health emergency has emerged,’ Dr David Putrino, director of Rehabilitation Innovation for the Mount Sinai, said in a statement.
‘It is imperative to understand the burden of this novel condition and develop targeted interventions to help patients participate in daily activities, as well as policies that will assist them with their disability and employment status.’
President Joe Biden has pushed for long Covid patients to be eligible for disability benefits, though patients have had trouble proving they qualify.
The condition is not well ynderstood, and often a person with long Covid will appear totally health on medical screenings.
Without tangible proof that something is wrong, doctors have trouble making official diagnoses.
And without that diagnoses, it is hard for a long Covid patient to prove to officials that they actually have the condition they claim to be suffering from.