Glenn Zalabak, like more than 550,000 others in Oklahoma, was diagnosed with COVID-19. Glenn is now considered a “recovered” COVID-19 patient but still experiences the effects of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccine

INTEGRIS Health Warns Against Long Term COVID-19 Symptoms

COVID Patient Glenn ZalabakGlenn Zalabak, an Oklahoma native and local architect, has been an INTEGRIS Health patient for more than 20 years. Like more than 550,000 others in Oklahoma, he was diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Before his diagnosis in October 2020, Zalabak lived an active lifestyle. His hobbies included rock climbing, playing billiards and practicing jujitsu. Glenn is now considered a “recovered” COVID-19 patient; however, he is still experiencing the effects of COVID-19. 

These symptoms, now known as COVID-19 long hauler symptoms, are different for everyone but can include shortness of breath, continued loss of taste or smell, brain fog, cough and fatigue. 

“Shortness of breath seems to be my biggest challenge. If I try to exert any effort above basic activities such as walking, my heart rate elevates tremendously and breathing becomes very difficult,” says Zalabak. 

His first symptoms included headaches, trouble concentrating and fatigue. Shortly after, he experienced extreme body aches and a fever. He knew he needed to get tested immediately and received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis the next day. His symptoms lasted three weeks and he finally began to feel some relief. However, just a few days later, Zalabak took a turn for the worse. After a visit with his provider, he was informed that he had developed COVID-19 induced pneumonia.  

Knowing hospitals around the state were at capacity, Jeffrey Cruzan, M.D., president of INTEGRIS Medical Group and Zalabak’s primary care physician, urged him to monitor his blood oxygen levels closely at home and visit the emergency room if he was experiencing worsening symptoms or worsening shortness of breath. 

Cruzan says, “We are continuing to learn more and more about the after effects of COVID-19 every day. While some long hauler symptoms might seem minor, other symptoms such as organ damage, blood clotting and difficulty breathing are extremely serious. Patients may present differently and for some individuals, it can cause long-term, potentially life threatening health problems.” 

Zalabak received both COVID-19 vaccine doses in the spring of 2021. After dealing with months of ongoing COVID-19 symptoms, he urges people to take the proper precautions and get vaccinated. 

“I’m relatively healthy. I never thought COVID-19 would affect me how it did or cause symptoms months later. I got the vaccine as soon as possible after my diagnosis because I knew I did not want to experience that again,” says Zalabak. 

INTEGRIS Health now offers the COVID-19 vaccine at 23 INTEGRIS Medical Group clinics around the metro. Please speak to your primary care provider if you are interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. 

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