(WXMI) — This Thursday marks two years since COVID-19 hit Michigan. Many COVID long haulers are still recovering from the virus.
In months, Anna Vander Laan hasn't stepped inside Mary Free Bed Outpatient Therapy Gym. It's a room that played a crucial role in her road to COVID recovery.
The path to get to and finish rehab wasn't easy. Vander Laan was first diagnosed with COVID in April 2020.
"I thought it was more anxiety than anything else. And so when they were doing the workup in the emergency room, they're like, 'I'm not really sure how she's talking to us,'" Vander Laan told FOX 17.
Vander Laan said her oxygen levels were at 61 percent and kept dropping. She says they told her mom to prepare for the worst at one point.
"They were calling my mother. They were talking about comfort measures. They really think that I wouldn't make it. So, it's real, and it's serious, or it can be," she said.
Vander Laan took it seriously. After the ER, she went to the therapy to start to feel normal again.
"This is a team journey. It's to get to this point. It certainly wasn't something I could have done on my own," she said.
Over the past two years, a team has grown as the number of COVID long haulers grows.
"The recovery is slower than everyone wants it to be; this we have to accept that it's going to take a lot of time. We're talking weeks to months. And so once we can get patients to accept that, we can really start to make some real progress, but it's going to take time," Mary Free Beed Dr. Thomas Hordt said.
He's one of the doctors who helps COVID long haulers as they work to recover. He says the biggest issue he sees is people who get discouraged.
"I'm not asking you to go back to running three miles like you were before he got sick. I'm asking you to go out and walk for 10 minutes for the next week to two weeks, then increase it to 15 minutes," he told FOX 17.
"I am very thankful for all the doctors and nurses, physical therapist," Vander Laan said.
Hordt says brain fog and fatigue, symptoms of COVID long haul, can have an extended impact on their lives.
He says these can cause mood swings because those other symptoms prevent people from getting back into everyday life.