Beyond Medicine: Alec’s Unconventional Path to Healing from Long COVID
When Alec* came down with COVID while away on vacation, he became deathly ill. Body pains, excruciating headaches, extreme lethargy, brain fog, and a brutal cough all knocked him flat on his back. A week later, however, he was on the mend and went on about his life. Fast forward 10 weeks. Out of the blue he got hit with an array of symptoms—no energy, brain fog, difficulty getting out of bed, dizziness, and more. It was eventually diagnosed by a doctor as long COVID.
The 58-year-old project manager became so physically and mentally compromised that life as he had known it disappeared. He had to take short-term disability from his job and endure a gauntlet of varying doctors’ appointments with several specialists. Each doctor identified some isolated health issue, but none had any idea what to do about this unusual group of symptoms.
Concerned that he might never be able to resume his normal life and frustrated that there were no plausible remedies being offered by conventional medicine, Alec stepped out of his comfort zone and tried specialized biofeedback and neurofeedback therapy, along with specific nutritional supplementation, offered at the Center for Brain Training. Within days, he began feeling better, so much better that, at the time of the interview, he had begun making plans to return to work after several months of misery and incapacitation. While his recovery progresses, Alec is continuing his biofeedback therapy and recently added oxygen therapy to the mix.
“I’m not 100 percent better, but what I’ve been doing at the center has helped me improve by at least 85 percent,” said Alec. “It’s given me hope that I’ll be back to my old self at some point, far more than the medical profession was able to offer me.”
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Alec stood at the sink doing his best to dry some pots that his wife Brooke* had just washed. Since he’d gotten ill with long COVID, Brooke had been bearing the brunt of the demands of daily life, and he felt guilty about not doing his part.
As Alec reached for the second pot, he grasped at the edge of the counter to steady himself, gasping for breath as weakness overcame him. Brooke gently helped him to the couch where he collapsed in exhaustion while she finished in the kitchen.
COVID came and went away
Three months earlier, Alec had contracted a debilitating case of COVID while on vacation.
“It was bad,” he recalled. “I had a high fever, chills, congestion, severe headache, and body pain so extreme it brought me to tears.”
After ten days, he had recovered significantly and went back to work, relieved to have that awful experience behind him.
Lots of symptoms, no answers
Approximately ten weeks later, however, a constellation of weird and inexplicable symptoms occurred simultaneously. Mornings became a trial. Instead of waking up early and getting on with his day, Alec had to muster all his energy to get out of bed by 11 a.m., and when he did, he was so weak, groggy, and fuzzy headed that he could barely put one foot in front of the other to get to the bathroom.
“I felt just awful,” he said.
Once up, brain fog interfered with his ability to process the complexities of his project management responsibilities, and he went on short-term disability. He also had to quit driving because he had dizzy spells. He suffered digestive issues and a lingering cough.
Thus began his long march to a mashup of visits to various medical specialists and labs for blood work. Each doctor offered some help for one symptom or another, but none knew what to do about all of them. His primary care physician suggested going on medication for ADHD to help his focus. An internist wanted to treat him for a hernia. A gastroenterologist suggested he have a scan using radioactive iodine to check out the function of his liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts.
He finally wound up in front of a nephrologist who diagnosed stage three kidney disease (an unlikely cause of Alec’s symptoms) but also thought outside the box, proffering a theory no one else had mentioned.
The ah-ha! Long COVID
“He asked me if I had had COVID recently, and I said yes,” Alec recalled. “He said it sounded like I had long COVID. That’s when all the pieces started to come together but, like everyone else, he didn’t know what I could do about it.”
Tackling it with supplements and biofeedback
Having exhausted all their medical options, Alec and Brooke decided to look into alternative treatments and spoke to Mike Cohen, director of the Center for Brain Training, about what he could offer.
He started Alec on a regimen of several nutritional supplements specific for brain inflammation and suggested three sessions per week of bioregulation therapy and neurofeedback.
“One morning early in his treatment Alec woke up and looked particularly horrible,” said Brooke. “His skin was ashen, and when I put him in the car to drive him to the center, he was slumped over in the seat.”
She was shocked when he emerged from his therapy.
“He was so different it seemed like a miracle,” she said. “He had color in his face, his eyes were clear, and he was happy and energetic. I looked at him and said, ‘What in the hell did they do to you in there?’ It was like they gave him an upper or something. I couldn’t believe the difference. It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He kept feeling well all that day and the next.”
Gradually, Alec’s improvement from that day diminished, but he continued his treatment. Two months later, he is having more good days than bad. He’s able to wake up around 8 a.m., get out of bed with less fatigue and brain fog, and do some of his previously normal activities. His energy levels have been steadily improving, and he plans to get off of short-term disability soon and go back to work.
“Alec is about 85 percent better than he was before we started working with the center,” Brooke said.
His brain fog, which he described as being a “5” on a one-to-five scale, is now a “1.” It’s almost completely gone,” Alec noted.
“This experience has given me hope when there was none before,” he continued. “I feel very fortunate to have found something that has helped when nothing else did.”
*Names changed to protect confidentiality