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A Long Hauler’s Journey

Shantell Williams has style. The 52-year old stands out with sharp clothing, fun accessories, and a dynamic energy. But Williams has had a rough time lately. "I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy," she said.

About 15-months ago, just as Kansas City was shutting down to flatten the curve of COVID-19, Williams underwent minimally invasive weight loss surgery. "I was tired of being tired," she explained. Done, she said, with relying on medications for diabetes, high blood pressure and acid reflux.

The surgery, along with weight management care from physicians at Truman Medical Centers/University Health, was a success. Williams lost about 125-pounds. But before she had time to celebrate her newfound wellness, Williams tested positive for COVID-19.

Like many COVID-19 patients, she didn't feel bad in the beginning. She lost her sense of taste and smell, but says she 'never really missed a beat."

One day, about a month after her COVID diagnosis, Williams continued to work, despite being in pain. "My heart was hurting. Just literally hurting," she added. About 24-hours later, she could not get out of bed. Her primary care physician admitted her to the Intensive Care Unit.

Williams heart stopped. Doctors revived her. And then, thanks to care from her providers, Williams began to grow stronger. She says doctors explained COVID had damaged her heart. When Williams was strong enough, she returned home.

"I had surgery to get my life back and be healthy. And I turn around and here this comes."

Not everyone who has COVID will have lasting health issues, but some COVID patients continue to experience lingering health complications. In order to best care for patients like Williams, providers at Truman Medical Center/University Health are taking a team approach to care. The Center for COVID Recovery is made up of doctors and nurses from many specialties, like pulmonology, neurology, physical medicine, rehabilitation services and cardiology, along with behavioral health experts.

Today Williams celebrates daily victories like being able to be up and work. Or spend time with her family. And hopes that her body will continue to heal… long after surviving COVID.