'Didn't think I was going to make it': Raleigh man suffers from PTSD after two COVID-19 hospitalizations

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Raleigh resident, Leroy Windley, thought he was going to die this summer after suffering from novel coronavirus complications that sent him to WakeMed hospital two times.

The lingering effects from COVID-19 were all too real for Windley, he suffered from pneumonia and small strokes that affected his speech and movement.

"I was surprised to see my 51st birthday. I didn't think I was going to make it," said Windley. His fiance LaVerne Maynard took care of him during his recovery.

"Emotionally it was tough to see someone you love and go from healthy to can't walk, can't talk. I had to feed him, I had to bathe him. At this point, I'm driving him to where ever he needs to go," Mayard said.

Recently, after speech and physical therapy, Leroy is walking again, and even working his full-time job with restrictions.

But the emotional effects of virus still linger; he often feels tired and being hospitalized caused post-traumatic stress.

Windley says memories of hearing fellow COVID-19 patients screaming in pain triggers frequent nightmares.

"Just being left in that dark room. It brings back thoughts. Not knowing if you're going to make it. You have the chills. The night sweats, you're sore, you're tossing and turning," Windley said.

RELATED: 'You feel like you're underwater:' Fayetteville man recovering from COVID-19 at home after receiving remdesivir treatment

Donald Rosenstein, lead psychiatrist for UNC School of Medicine says COVID-19 survivors experiencing PTSD should take these symptoms seriously.

"It's not uncommon and we see this a lot with people who have been ill with severe respiratory illness afterward. As more people survive their bout of COVID, I suspect that we are going to see this more commonly," said Rosenstein.

Treatments can include psychological evaluation and medication.

Windley plans to get help and warns others to take coronavirus seriously, especially, after President Trump's recent comments, "Don't let it dominate you. Don't be afraid of it."

"It's very unbelievable that you would tell someone don't be afraid. Everyone should be afraid. No matter who. Young and old should be afraid of this," Windley said.

UNC-Chapel Hill is right now in the process of developing a post-COVID-19 clinic.

Researchers will study the long-term effects of the virus on the mind and body of those who have recovered.
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