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From Half-Marathon Runner to Post-COVID-19 Recovery Patient – the Hardest Run of Jesse’s Life

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From Half-Marathon Runner to Post-COVID-19 Recovery Patient – the Hardest Run of Jesse’s Life

Pomona resident Jesse Osborn, age 30, will tell you that young people do get seriously ill from COVID-19 – and for this competitive athlete who previously ran half-marathons, her recovery from COVID-19 has been her longest and hardest race to date.

Jesse tested positive for COVID-19 on December 1, 2020, after contracting the virus from a family member. While isolated at home, she developed a high fever and felt very ill. After being home in isolation for the required time, she still needed a doctor’s note to return to work. During her exam, some three weeks after initially being diagnosed, her doctor broke the news that she had pneumonia and a low oxygen level.

She continued to decline. Her heart rate was elevated, and she had a lingering cough, leading her to seek treatment at an Emergency Department. Due to the surge, she wasn’t admitted and was discharged to continue her recovery at home.

In mid-January, still feeling lousy, Jesse went to Cedars Sinai’s COVID-19 Recovery Program where she was diagnosed with Long-COVID and secondary diagnoses stemming from it – obstructive lung disease, asthma and an interesting condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a type of Dysautonomia. With POTS, when upright, the body does not properly counteract the pull of gravity – that is, blood is not as effectively pumped “uphill” to the heart and brain, so the heart starts beating faster to compensate. Jesse’s body can’t regulate itself against gravity. She says, “It feels like I stopped eating and drinking for 24 hours, ran a marathon and then was asked to stand up.” Jesse was told these are manageable conditions, but they might never go away.

Subsequently, she saw a neurologist for brain fog and cognitive decline such as memory and word loss, as well as difficulty with problem solving. She saw a pulmonologist for the obstructive lung disease and trialed medications.

Jesse continued to struggle with the strength and stamina to take showers, cook or clean. While her fiancé has been a devoted support system, the extent of her difficult recovery was putting tremendous strain on their relationship.

Something had to give.

In May, she enrolled in Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center’s (PVHMC) Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program. The team of rehab therapists has helped her push physical boundaries – the slow, steady effort is what seems to be making a difference.

“I feel dreadful after every session,” said Jesse. “Exercise seems to trigger a positive immune response, and it appears to be helping. “I can now bathe and prepare simple meals for myself – the improvements are noticeable.”

Jesse has set her sights on competing again, climbing Half Dome, and going back to work. Thanks to PVHMC’s Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program, the finish line is within her reach.