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Surviving COVID: Some now deal with new symptoms weeks after getting sick

Shawn Stephens said while it's true that almost everyone who gets COVID-19 survives, many like him are now surviving with something else.

WESTFIELD, Ind. — For weeks last spring, Shawn Stephens was confined to his basement – separated from his wife and kids upstairs as he fought COVID-19.

"Oh the shakes," he recalled. "They were just awful."

He had the classic symptoms: body aches, extreme fatigue, a loss of taste and smell, and trouble breathing, too.

"Oh my gosh," he said. "Just walking to the bathroom (was a struggle)."

Nearly seven months later, Stephens said he’s mostly recovered from those symptoms.

But the Warrior Dash runner and Spartan Racer said it hasn’t been an easy journey back to normal life.

And he’s still not there.

"Now I’ve got all these other symptoms that I’ve never had before," he said.

Those new symptoms include high blood pressure, constant jitters and a lack of concentration.

"I call it foggy brain," said Stephens. "Because I'll go to the refrigerator and immediately forget what it is I'm there for."

He can’t remember what he read moments before.

"Those things never happened to me (before COVID-19). It’s brand new, and it happened overnight," he said.

RELATED: Westfield dad who recovered from COVID-19 plans to donate plasma, urges social distancing

The CDC lists "brain fog" among long-term symptoms reported by other COVID-19 survivors. Other commonly reported long-term symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain and chest pain.

Mandy Westerfield considers herself relatively lucky.

"We were able to recover at home, and it took us about a week or so," she said.

Westerfield and her husband both tested positive for COVID-19 in November.

"The only lasting symptom is that it’s taken a while for some of my senses to recover," she said. "No new symptoms at all."

Studies are underway to learn more about COVID-19’s varying effects.

Shawn Stephens said while it's true that almost everyone who gets COVID-19 survives, many like him are now surviving with something else.

"It was as soon as I woke up out of COVID," he said. "That was my new reality."