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Idaho COVID-19 'long-haulers' want answers after months of suffering

“Honestly COVID has completely derailed my whole life," said a Nampa woman who was diagnosed with the virus eight months ago.

BOISE, Idaho — One year ago, on March 9, 2020, just two days before the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 crisis a global pandemic, only 41 Idahoans had been tested for the virus and there were no confirmed cases in the state.

At that time, Idaho was one of just 15 states without a confirmed case.

Now, a year later, more than 140,000 Idahoans have tested positive for COVID-19. While the majority have recovered from the effects of the virus, some continue to battle long-term symptoms months after their initial diagnoses.

“Honestly COVID has completely derailed my whole life,” said Angie Nunes, a Nampa resident who has been suffering from COVID-19 symptoms for more than eight months. “I was really healthy before I got COVID in July and now today it's hit or miss every day if I even have the energy to do anything or not."

Nunes struggles with shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, fatigue, bone pain, numbness, and feeling very weak.

“It’s very draining, very, very draining," she said. "Many nights have gone by that I go to bed at night and I feel as if I will not wake up in the morning and I’ve lived like that for months and months not knowing if I will wake in the morning."

Before contracting COVID-19, Nunes was athletic and healthy but now, she said, she’s lucky if she can find the energy to take a walk. She also hasn’t regained her sense of smell.

“I haven't had any smell since July, I was burning something the other day and I had no idea,” she said. "I was with my other daughter when she had her baby and I remember trying to hold the baby and I sat in the corner of the hospital room with a nebulizer doing breathing treatments just trying to be able to breathe again.”

Nunes said she has seen countless doctors and specialists, and no one knows what to tell her. She's decided to take a break from doctor visits, saying that they often just force her to relive her experience over and over again.

Danielle Lockner of Boise explained that she has been going through something very similar.

“I went to the hospital seven times for chest pain and I had tingling and numbness in my arms and legs," Lockner said. "I was having weird skin issues, I have really deep ridges in my fingernails now, really bad hair loss. My hair is still coming out in clumps."

Lockner explains that the symptom list goes on. She said she has very low blood pressure and is sensitive to heat, so much so that she can't take showers without having to sit down.

“My joints make popping noises, when I walk around all the time, I’m just like 'pop pop pop pop,'" she said.  "None of these things were happening at all before I got COVID."

Lockner was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early July. The mother of five now just wishes she could get her old self back.

“It’s like you are just sitting around waiting to figure out if you are going to get better or if you're going to be like this forever,” she said. “I don't want to struggle every day. I want to be with my kids, I want to be with my family, you know, just simple things.

According to Lockner, doctors have told her that her symptoms are being caused by anxiety, or that there’s just nothing they can do because there's still so much medical experts don't know about the virus.

“I am grateful to be alive, but it’s really hard to figure out how to live this life,” she said.

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