PEI

P.E.I. woman who's still suffering questions COVID-19 'recovery' numbers

Rosie Shaw still feels tired and has other lingering symptoms after "recovering" from COVID-19 last month. She would like P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office to track patient recoveries in a different way, gathering more data on how people are feeling.

'I worry this is a forever situation'

Rosie Shaw of Johnston's River, P.E.I., questions why the province considers patients recovered from COVID-19 after just seven days since symptoms began if fully vaccinated or 10 days if not fully vaccinated. (Submitted by Rosie Shaw)

Rosie Shaw feels groggy and tired most days. She sometimes sleeps for 16 hours in a row, and still needs a nap the same day. It's been this way ever since she tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 3. 

"There are lingering symptoms for sure," Shaw said from her home in Johnston's River, P.E.I.

According to P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office, Shaw is deemed recovered.

Guidelines from the CPHO state that a case is deemed recovered if it has been seven days (if fully vaccinated) since symptoms began, or 10 days if not fully vaccinated. 

But Shaw doesn't like that terminology. She would like to see the province do a more thorough followup to check on people who have tested positive, and how they are actually recovered. 

Unpredictable fatigue

Shaw said her fatigue is unpredictable, and a real contrast to her energy levels pre-COVID-19 — in fact, people used to describe her as "hyper."

Shaw bought a monitor to track her heart rate and oxygen levels, as a way to monitor her health. (Rosie Shaw )

She said her heart also races at times, and she feels uneasy or wobbly. 

She bought a heart-rate and oxygen-level monitor and said it does give her some reassurance when she's not feeling well. 

"I worry this is a forever situation," she said. 

No longer considered contagious

In a statement emailed to CBC News, P.E.I.'s CPHO said in part, "Recoveries posted to the web are based on time since symptom onset or diagnosis if asymptomatic. The intent is to capture individuals who are no longer considered contagious."

"As with other viral infections, symptoms of COVID-19 may linger beyond the period of infectiousness."

Officials explain that the active case tracking is key to gauging the impact of COVID-19 in P.E.I. 

'Nobody's calling to check'

Knowing her own situation has led Shaw to question reports about so-called recovered cases.

Shaw has not yet fully recovered from COVID-19 a month after she first tested positive and began experiencing symptoms. (Submitted by Rosie Shaw)

The province regularly reports recovery numbers when it announces case numbers. 

"I don't even know why they're reporting it. It doesn't seem useful to me because it doesn't mean anything right now," she said. 

Shaw said for her the word "recovered" implies someone is healthy, back to their pre-COVID-19 state. 

"Nobody's calling to check if you are recovered," Shaw said. She said they are just "assumptions" based on testing.

Shaw said it bugs her that real recoveries are not tracked better. 

She said she knows the health-care system is stretched, but wonders if volunteers could be used to call patients, or if they could fill out a self-reporting form once they complete isolation. 

Response on social media

Shaw posted about her experience on Twitter and said she heard from others who are also suffering. 

"There are people who had COVID a month ago who are still not over it," she said. 

She worries about herself and others, especially anyone who is unvaccinated. 

"I had my booster, I was triple vaxxed and still got it," she said. 

Long COVID a possibility

The email from CPHO also points out symptoms of long COVID can occur in some people.

Shaw said has good days and days where she feels extremely tired. (Rosie Shaw)

Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive dysfunction. 

The email states: "Research reviewed by the Public Health Agency of Canada as part of a living systematic review showed 56 per cent of individuals who have had COVID-19 reported the presence of one or more symptoms 12 weeks after diagnosis."

Public Health officials encourage Islanders who have persistent symptoms of COVID-19 to seek medical care.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Meader is a video journalist for CBC P.E.I.

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