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Charlotte woman still battling COVID-19 symptoms a year after initial diagnosis

Brooke Keaton and her family had COVID-19 last winter. She never expected symptoms would linger for an entire year.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — COVID-19 cases are rising across the country and in the Carolinas. Most people will quickly recover from an infection within a few weeks, but others will experience new, returning, or ongoing health problems or symptoms weeks and even months after. The CDC has labeled it long COVID.

A Charlotte woman said she never expected a year after her family’s bout with the virus she’d still be suffering.

Brooke Keaton is a mother of two who worked in a childcare setting. Her family had COVID-19 last winter and she said her life hasn’t been the same since. Keaton hasn’t been able to go back to work because her symptoms are so severe.

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Exactly a year ago, Keaton and her two daughters were sleeping in their living room, right next to the Christmas tree.

“I had just enough energy to finish wrapping the last gifts to try to get them some bit of normalcy,” Keaton said.

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The entire family tested positive for COVID-19 the week before. The kids had to wave to their grandparents from their balcony on Christmas Day. Everyone had mild symptoms except for Keaton, who was weak and had a 102-degree fever for 10 days.

“Some nights I was afraid to go to sleep because I didn’t know if I was going to wake up,” she said.

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She never imagined she’d still be dealing with it this Christmas, but all year has experienced physical and cognitive challenges. She said her doctors told her she’s a long hauler.

“It’s like rolling the dice,” she said. “Today you’re having a hard time breathing. Today you can’t think of words. Today your hip is hurting so bad that you don’t want to get up.”

She tried to return to work in January but only made it two days before her fever spiked again. She had pneumonia and then the persistent, lingering symptoms started to appear.

She’s also needed help caring for her kids.

“It’s one thing to send your children away because they’re going on a trip, they’re going to go visit. It’s another thing to send your children away because you are too sick to take care of them,” she said.

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Keaton said she was fully vaccinated and boosted but the shots didn’t help alleviate any of her long COVID-19 symptoms.

As of July, long COVID-19 became a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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