Patient, Doctor Describe Living With ‘Long COVID’

Coronavirus testing in the Mission District on April 27, 2020. Barbara Ries / UCSF

Barbara Ries / UCSF

Coronavirus testing in the Mission District on April 27, 2020.

Bruce Wheeler was diagnosed with COVID-19 last spring, but has never fully recovered, suffering a variety of symptoms of what has become known as “long COVID.” He’s not alone — according to a UC Davis overview of a handful of recent studies, more than one in four COVID-19 patients develop symptoms lasting for months, even if they had mild cases. About 100 potential symptoms have been identified. Wheeler and Dr. Brian Block, who has helped treat him and who is one of the founding clinicians at UCSF’s COVID recovery clinic, talked with “Civic” about the condition and how much is still unclear about its treatment.

“I think we cannot overlook the effect of long-haul COVID on those who are trying to work and raise a family. I think I’m fortunate being a retiree, and just had to worry about myself and my wife. And just mentioning her, it’s been a strain on my spouse as well. I’m just a lot less self-reliant than I used to be. I’m not as upbeat, although I try to be. And she’s been marvelous. Just really stuck with me through the whole thing. But I feel badly for her because she’s been a partner in this as well.”

— Bruce Wheeler

“As a medical community, we’ve all been learning together how to respond to that and be appropriately responsive: Thinking about the symptoms people have, working with our colleagues when something doesn’t necessarily fit in our area of expertise and trying to think more comprehensively about what might be going on. So I think that’s been kind of a lesson of this disease that we’ve all taken to heart.”

— Brian Block

A segment from our radio show and podcast, “Civic.” Listen daily at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on 102.5 FM in San Francisco, and subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify or Stitcher