It's the first of its kind, it's free, and it's giving COVID-19 long haulers both physical and emotional hope. It’s called the COVID Bootcamp, started by the Pulmonary Wellness Foundation.
For Eli Musser, who has been dealing with COVID-19 for almost exactly a year, his former life is a dream ago.
“I hope it's a dream I get to go back to,” Musser said.
Musser was about to get married and was close to releasing a record. He had an active physical fitness regimen. Now, he says, a 20-minute walk is an exhausting success. His calendar is filled with his extensive care team of doctors and appointments.
“I have a neurologist. I have a cardiologist. Last week, I did a stress test this week. I have an EEG and I do see a therapist on my own,” he explained of his life now.
One day, while researching his next course of treatment, he stumbled upon Dr. Noah Greenspan, the director of the Pulmonary Wellness and Rehabilitation Center. The business has been around since 1998, but recently, he created a separate component for COVID long haulers like Musser.
“What we found with COVID long haulers was that even this program that was designed for an average patient of 80 years old with heart and lung disease it was often too vigorous for COVID patients,” Dr. Greenspan said.
The problem is there is no one size fits all. Every patient is different, and every treatment is different.
“We realized COVID is not something you can plan out. COVID is on its schedule. We’re on COVID’s schedule. It's like mother may I. COVID may I take one step forward. You either may or may not.”
The program lasts just over 40 days. It's free, and anyone can join. There's a lot to it. A lot more than getting your lungs back in shape. It's helping your body learn how to function again.
It's my body; it’s everything--being physically functional again and learning to use my body again and having some level of ability,” said Musser.
Right now, Dr. Greenspan has more than 1,700 people registered in the boot camp. He's lost count of the number of people he's helped.
“I do want people to understand they’re not alone and they’re not forgotten,” Dr. Greenspan said.
Musser says that connecting with Dr. Greenspan's support group for long haulers has provided the type of support he needs, especially on the days when just making it through the day is hard.
“Just know those things are out there. It took me a long time just to be able to do a little bit of walking,” Musser explained. “Don’t give in to the idea that it’s not going to happen or not going to get better.”