Two New York City residents battling long COVID share their unique experiences with the lingering condition to provide a sense of hope for other long haulers or people who may be enduring similar symptoms.
Long COVID is a debilitating condition that encompasses an array of symptoms that may occur after recovering from the initial infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Complications can impact anyone, including children, and vary from muscular, digestive, cardiovascular or neurological issues such as brain fog, difficulty breathing, chest pain and muscle aches.
Staten Island native Kevin Devine is one long hauler who first contracted COVID-19 in March 2020. The father of two was put on a ventilator and remained in a coma for over 40 days before waking up with a tremendous amount of bedsores.
Devine was forced to learn how to walk, talk and feed himself again in rehabilitation and continues to check in with specialists on a regular basis. Shortness of breath, mood swings, fatigue and memory loss are just a few lingering symptoms he faces to this day.
Grateful to be alive, the 58-year-old New Yorker aspires to become a spokesman for long-haul patients and spread the message: "tomorrow is better."
"And the families that lost a loved one, I'd love to tell them what we went through in the end. Your loved ones loved you. They thought of you. If they could talk to you one last time, they'd tell you, 'I'll see you again, but don't rush to get here,'" Devine told NBC New York.
Matthew Boyd, 32, lives on the Lower East Side with his fiancée, Lauren. Boyd was sick with COVID-19 twice in 2020 -- before and after vaccination -- and underwent numerous hospitalizations.
After recovering from both coronavirus infections, Boyd has non-specific lesions in the brain and suffers various post-COVID impacts like brain fog, full-body hives, and nerve-tingling sensations. At one point, he took 43 pills a day as supplements, including trying Chinese herbal medicines.
While improvement and next steps are constantly on Boyd's mind, he believes in telling his story to help others cope with the related illness.
"If you have symptoms that you've never heard of before, doesn't mean that yours aren't real. COVID has its own agenda for everybody. A lot of people are asymptomatic that are fine or people die. I've had everything from hypertension to psychosis, so just know what you're feeling is real," said Boyd.
This story is part of a series, "Living with Coronavirus For the Long Haul," following long COVID experts and patients during the two-year pandemic anniversary. Watch the previous episode here.