Tulsa woman describes lingering effects from COVID-19, encourages others to not wait for help

TULSA, Okla. — Sixty-year-old Marsha Harris of Tulsa said she first tested positive for COVID-19 just before Thanksgiving.

After spending 25 days in the hospital at Saint Francis, she said she was fortunate to be released just before the holidays on December 17th. However, months passed and Harris said she continued to have lingering effects from COVID-19, specifically respiratory issues.

Harris said, “I’m what they call a long hauler.”

The 60-year-old said the most difficult part of her experience was not being able to be as independent as she once was. She said, “I was used to taking care of myself and I had to really accept help.” Harris said she continues to be on oxygen and experiences things like brain fog, but Harris said she’s come a long way from where she once was.

For the past nine weeks, Harris has been receiving treatment through post-COVID-19 clinics at Hillcrest HealthCare System. She attends rehab at Hillcrest South twice-a-week where specialists have been able to focus on respiratory therapy. Harris said, “I’m getting stronger by the day and now I’m beginning to reclaim some of my independence.” She told FOX23 that she is ready to graduate from the program next week.

Utica Park Clinic Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jeffrey Galles, said about ten percent of people who had COVID-19 experience long-term effects. He said, “The first thing we try to identify is what their complaint is most focused around and what we can measure.”

Through the clinics, Galles said they’re able to offer not only several specialist to help patients, but also things like counseling, rehabilitation and testing. He added, “A lot of these people were unable to go to work, lost jobs, had family members who were ill and couldn’t support their families. A lot of those things were really traumatic emotionally.”

Galles said one of the most difficult parts for many of his patients is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s what some have finally grasped while receiving this support. He said, “We had this big wave in October, November and January, now a lot of those people are just starting to feel the process of improvement.”

Harris said if there’s one thing she can share to other long haulers who tested positive for COVID-19, it’s that you should never give up hope. Harris also encouraged others to get vaccinated.

For more information, Galles recommends reaching out to your local primary care provider and choosing not to wait to ask for help if you’re having long-term effects. You can find more information at Hillcrest.com.