Ava Yannarelli

15 years old - Illinois

Ava contracted COVID-19 in late July of 2020. She was lucky enough not to be hospitalized, but the symptoms were incredibly difficult to endure. Ava felt so much pain that she didn't want to move, and it was hard for her to walk less than 20ft to her bathroom. While she was sick, she mostly stayed in bed and slept. She's thankful for the resources she had access to throughout the course of her illness.

Ava's mother also contracted COVID at the same time, and has not been able to taste or smell since July. They have both been on heart medications and also have shortness of breath.

In December, Ava was diagnosed with Vocal Cord Dysfunction, as shortness of breath had become her biggest symptom. Though she can lessen the pain and discomfort with breathing exercises and speech therapy for breathing, this is a condition that will stay with her for life.

Ava still gets out of breath walking up or down the stairs, and feels that her VCD has made her anxiety much worse, especially in public, as she is very afraid to catch COVID again.

She received her first dose of the vaccine last week and is on her way to being fully vaccinated. After getting COVID, she resumed her fall sport, cross country, and finished the season, though every run was painful for her. She would find herself out of breath within a minute of starting her run. Looking back, Ava feels as though she should not have resumed her sport and should have taken the season off instead of toughing it out.

In February of this year, Ava decided to get a private trainer to help get her back into shape, but things turned sour quickly when she contracted a bad sinus infection (confirmed that it wasn't COVID) and was taken all the way back to square one.

Unfortunately, Ava doesn't think that she'll be able to continue cross country sports because of her condition, which is very hard for her to come to terms with as something she used to love with all her heart is now the source of her pain and symptom flares.

Having long Covid can be incredibly stressful, but Ava says that if it's taught her anything, it's to not take anything for granted and to spend more time with your loved ones.