Peeling hands, fatigue, brain fog: COVID-19 side effects last for months for some patients

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, New York (WABC) -- Amy Siniscalchi loves to hike with her husband. But before she could make it to the top of a hill in March, she knew something was wrong.

"I couldn't make it up the trail," she said. "It was not a steep trail. We had to turn back."

She tested positive for COVID-19, and 10 months later, she's still experiencing side effects. She had no idea the uphill battle she would have to climb after getting diagnosed.

"We're some of the lucky ones," she said. "We're alive, but we're not living."

And she's not alone, one of more than 100 patients being treated as part of a new post COVID-19 Recovery Program at Westchester Medical Center.

Retiree Adell Davis wasn't hospitalized, but she's still getting treated more than nine months later.

"I don't feel bad all the time," Davis said. "At first it was really scary, because I didn't understand what was happening to me."

Together, the two have experienced a wide range of side effects.

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For Siniscalchi, she has mainly been dealing with fatigue and shortness of breath.

"This fatigue stops you in your tracks," she said. "You can't function when you have a fatigue like this. I have COVID-induced asthma, which I've never had any respiratory issues prior in my life."

In addition to the internal side effects, the nonprofit executive has also been experiencing what he doctor calls "COVID hands."

That's when her skin sheds, and her fingernails turn purple for periods of time.

"My hands would peel," she said. "I would wake up one day and my hands would feel like sandpaper, and they would peel in their entirety."

As for Davis, she still doesn't have her smell and taste back completely. She's also been dealing with what doctors are calling "brain fog."

"I thought, 'Oh my God, am I experiencing an early onset of Alzheimer's?'" she said. "You know, your mind plays tricks on you. And it happens so frequently, simple things I couldn't remember."

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Their doctor, Dr. Carol Karmen, said those are just some of the symptoms patients are experiencing -- which also include hair loss, chest pain, and other side effects that affect every system of the body.

"We don't know why some people have gotten so much sicker," she said. "Why does on person have a cold or flu like symptoms for two days, and the other is in the ICU?"

That's why they're not just treating the side effects, but also trying to learn more about why it attacks different people in different ways.

One recent study showed up to 10% of patients could have long term side effects, in patients who have become knowns as "long haulers."

Westchester Medical Center is accepting new patients for the post COVID-19 Recovery Program.

CLICK HERE for more information, or call 833-329-0095.

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