KANSAS CITY, MO — When Amanda Finley got sick with COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic, she, like everyone else, had never heard of long covid.
Now, two years later, Finley is all too familiar with a debilitating illness that's impacted countless people across the globe.
Everyday tasks, like taking the stairs up to her apartment and washing the dishes are exhausting.
"Just standing and doing the same repetitive motions like this is tiring," Finley said.
Finley, a former archaeologist and opera singer, now spends most of her time at home.
Pictures highlight the contrast between the life Finley lived prior to the pandemic and today.
"I was out there in the field doing archaeology, digging holes in 100 degrees, lugging all this equipment around," Finley said. "Last year I started getting a lot of dizziness and vertigo, and stairs just became really hard to a point where I was falling down the stairs."
The BA.5 omicron subvariant is causing some concerns among medical experts.
In Australia, researchers say it's possible people can be reinfected every 28 days, as opposed to the previously suggested 12 weeks.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, with the University of Kansas Health System, is not sure if that's the case, but says the variant is more contagious.
"It is just easy to evade the antibody part of our immune system and when you evade that it is easy to cause infection," Hawkinson said.
While the subvariant is not as severe as previous variants, like Delta, the risk for contracting long COVID remains the same, especially for people who are not vaccinated.
There is a substantial amount of data to suggest that those people that are vaccinated will have a reduced chance of long COVID.
Finley, a mom of a young son, wants to remind people that COVID-19 is more nuanced than a matter of life and death.
"It's not just live or die, there's this liminal area that is long COVID," Finley said.
Dizziness, exhaustion and an increased heart rate are just a few of the symptoms Finley experiences with long COVID.
After becoming sick, Finley said she was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.
It's a form of dysautonomia that causes a number of debilitating symptoms throughout the body, the hallmark symptom to diagnose POTS is an excessive increase of heart rate upon standing.
Finley said the time she spends with her son looks different, too, these days.
"My son is a trooper, " Finley said. "He knows that there are just days that I don't feel well, and so we'll just curl up in bed and watch videos. He said something two weeks ago, "Mommy, we have to be fit." And, I said to him, 'Well buddy, there are a lot of people after COVID, they're still very sick, they can't just go for a walk or workout.' And he said, 'Oh, well, we need to take care of you.'"
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