NEW YORK - Nitza Rochez's battle with COVID-19 was nothing compared to what she experienced once she recovered from the virus in March 2020.
"I couldn't even stand long enough to boil an egg. I was falling everywhere," Nitza said. "I woke up in the middle of the night because my heart was like a loud, drumming, thumping sound."
Nitza, once an avid runner, was experiencing post-COVID symptoms, including panic attacks, mobility issues with her legs, and high blood pressure. Nitza said she felt as if she was losing control of her own body.
Two months into the pandemic, Mount Sinai Hospital announced it would open a first-of-its-kind Center for Post-COVID Care. Nitza checked herself in and it was nothing short of life-changing. The staff didn't deny her symptoms and were already familiar with some of her symptoms "because they were seeing other cases like me," she said.
The Center for Post-COVID Care treated Nitza for a full year with not only medications and rehab but also psychological help.
Since the center opened in May 2020 in Union Square before expanding here to Mount Sinai West, the staff has treated thousands of patients who suffer from post-COVID issues. And as this virus continues to surge, doctors who lead this center know they still have a long road ahead.
The center's Dr. Fernando Carnavali said post-COVID symptoms can be worse than the symptoms during the actual virus.
"Some of the mild cases develop post-COVID symptoms that are not proportionally related to the active illness with COVID," he said.
Nitza hasn't returned to running but she hopes to get back there one day and maybe even run a marathon again. But she knows it'll take some time.
"I can walk, I can do regular exercises and hopefully by the end of the year, I can start running again," she said.