RIGBY, Idaho — On July 25, one Idaho man contracted COVID-19 and about 8 months later, he was still feeling what some medical professionals have dubbed as “long hauler” symptoms.
Travis Smith of Rigby said after multiple doctor visits and months of feeling ill, he knew he wasn’t alone. So, he created a support Facebook group for people in Idaho facing similar situations.
The group is meant to be a space for people to talk, share resources and give tips to others that have made them feel better.
“We started off pretty quick and today we’re getting close to about 600 group members and these are all Idahoans. These are people from Boise, up north in Coeur d'Alene, myself in Rigby. We’re all over Idaho and we're experiencing very similar things,” Smith said.
At the beginning of his diagnosis with the coronavirus, Smith said it was very apparent his symptoms were from the virus, but as time on, he says doctors started to question whether it was something else.
“Doctors started to kind of doubt that COVID had anything to do with it and it t really became frustrating, where I felt like I had to advocate for myself and really push that ‘I don't feel well' and I felt totally find before,” Smith said.
When Smith was 8 years old, he was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia and he experienced heart racing episodes about once or twice a year. A month after his COVID diagnosis, he woke up at 2 a.m. with the worst episode of tachycardia he has ever experienced.
“It felt like my heart was crawling in-between my rib cage and crawling out of my body.”
After reading multiple articles, Smith knew he wasn’t alone. The idea of a Facebook group came from a group that was started for people in Utah. After seeing the support for others, he created one for Idahoans.
“It's been good for me to know I've got that support group and I can turn and ask questions. 'Who else is dealt with this? How have you coped with it? What is your doctor recommended?' While also still being careful to make sure we're not considering ourselves medical professionals at the same time,” Smith said.
Smith is also an avid runner, and his COVID long-haul symptoms made running feel like he just couldn’t breathe. Now in April, and after receiving his vaccine, he is able to make it through a full run.
He still deals with symptoms, such as mild fatigue and slight changes to his taste and smell.
Tuesday, Smith plans to meet with local representatives and other advocates to try and bring awareness to COVID long haulers and consideration for the COVID-19 Long Haulers Act.
To learn more about the Facebook group or if you feel you may be a long hauler, click here.