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‘A silent partner inside your body’ — Belvedere woman struggles with long COVID

Savannah Murphy of Belvedere sits in reflection at her office last month. A breast-cancer survivor, she’s now fighting ongoing symptoms of long COVID after being infected around Christmas. (Elliot Karlan photo / For The Ark)

Belvedere resident Savannah Murphy’s personal ordeal with COVID-19 began Dec. 23, more than 20 months after the start of the pandemic shutdown, at a time when most people started returning to normal life with air travel and in-person gatherings. Her ordeal hasn’t ended yet.

Murphy, 61, had already received the vaccine and a booster shot when she developed a worsening cough and fever — enough that she went to her hospital’s emergency room for a PCR test on Christmas Day. The test was positive, so she went home, planning to hunker down in insolation for a week to ride it out.

Instead, she was back in the hospital within two days, felled by severe back-to-back waves, the first of which attacked her respiratory system and collapsed her left lung. The second attacked her alimentary canal — esophagus, stomach, intestines — and caused excruciating abdominal pains.

Murphy remained in the hospital until the end of January, discharged with oxygen and sent home with a nurse visiting her daily to take her temperature and check her oxygen levels, but she continued to test positive for months. Since then, her respiratory symptoms have persisted, and she and her pulmonologist don’t know when, if ever, her left lung will function again.

Murphy is one of the millions of coronavirus victims who contracted it and survived, but she’s also among the roughly one in five to suffer from long COVID, or post-COVID syndrome, which can emerge a month or more after the end of the original infection.

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