The 40-year-old New York doctor is one of the patients called “long-haulers” in English, whose recovery period exceeds two weeks on average for those cured.
Krakower told AFP that on some days he doubts himself and wonders if he shouldn’t have gone back to work, if the symptoms he faces are real until, for example, he goes for a walk and his parents or his wife, who they are with him on the phone, they realize that he is panting.
The phenomenon is attributed to a post-viral disease of which little is known, but which is increasingly reported by patients, who share their experiences in forums such as the Covid Longo Support Group, on Facebook, which has more than 5,000 members.
“When I think I’m fine and I have three or four good days, I spend three or four hours when I can’t speak again or my lymph node starts to swell on the right side of my neck,” says Krakower in a video conference call from his home in Long Island.
Krakower worked as a unit director in the psychiatric department at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Queens, where he suspects he was infected during the New York epidemic.
First he lost his sense of smell and taste – “everything knew rubber” – then an uncomfortable cough that prevented him even working from home, until he lost his voice completely.
Three and a half weeks later, in addition to chills and a high fever, he started coughing so hard that he spit blood. He could no longer swallow and his voice was high. It ended up in an emergency room.
The post-viral phase
“The swelling (of the larynx) was caused by a post-viral inflammation that occurred weeks after the virus,” said doctor Robert Glatter, who treated Karkower.
As a precaution, Krakower isolated himself from his wife and five children for five weeks, which were especially difficult for the family.
His two-year-old daughter Hazel and Evan, the son who was just four months old, saw him only through video calls, which Krakower used to “meet” his family at dinner time or to read stories before to sleep.
“I really wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I went through,” he says, before saying that he is still thrilled to think about the quarantine. His isolation period ended after two negative tests for the coronavirus.
Glatter said Krakower’s continued fatigue is similar to what has been documented in other illnesses that cause chronic fatigue syndrome.
Scientists don’t know why this happens, but Glatter risks saying that it could be related to an injury to the mitochondria, a part of the cells responsible for generating energy.
For Glatter, people who experience these symptoms for a long time should not fall into medical confusion, in which other people or patients themselves attribute the symptoms to anxiety. “People are having therapy sessions because this is affecting their lives in such a way that they cannot live as they normally would,” he stresses.
“This is real”, warns the doctor, “it’s not in people’s minds, it’s what they live every day”.