Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program Helps 34-Year-Old Manage Lingering Impact of COVID-19 Case

Amanda Court, RN, thought she was losing it when every week she developed a new and strange symptom instead of bouncing back from COVID-19.

Amanda contracted COVID-19 in October, and she’s still struggling with the impacts five months later.

About 10 percent of COVID-19 survivors – an estimated 10,000 Montanans – have ongoing symptoms, which can include cardiac, neurological, pulmonary, and behavioral effects.  

For Amanda, COVID-19 has caused problems from head to toe.

Her issues began with a headache, body aches, chills, bronchitis, ear and sinus infections, and fatigue so deep she had to crawl to the bathroom. Her ongoing symptoms include fatigue, swollen legs, trouble breathing, focusing and cognitive challenges, and gastrointestinal problems. Her memory is bad. She can’t take the dog for walks or play with her children. Her heart rate spikes, and she huffs and puffs with minor exertion.

Dr. Brad Nieset, who specializes in palliative medicine, leads the new Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program at Benefis Health System. While Amanda is only 34, she’s far from the youngest patient in the program. Dr. Nieset has seen teenagers who are struggling with months of COVID-19 impacts.

“It doesn’t matter who you are. This is affecting people from all walks of life,” Amanda said.

Amanda, who works in Peace Hospice Outpatient Services, was part of the pilot effort for the program and said two advantages are that the program coordinates all the specialists and that everyone involved is up to date on the latest cutting-edge research on COVID-19.

“Your primary care doctor isn’t going to know what to do with you in the way this program does,” she said. “That is a great resource to have.”

She started with tests that revealed she has cognitive and focus issues, which she’s working on with a doctor now, and problems with her heart and lungs. Dr. Nieset steered her toward a diet without dairy and gluten, which has led to her no longer experiencing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea after every meal.

“Absolutely it’s helping,” she said of the program. “I didn’t realize how many people were experiencing these problems. Now I can see I am not alone. It can affect so many systems in the body.”

Amanda’s husband, also a nurse at Benefis, had a quick recovery from COVID-19. She’s happy – and jealous – to see him active in ways she can no longer be.

“I want to be able to run around and do things like he is,” she said.

For more information about the Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program, click here.