Houston man warns of effects of COVID-19 struggle on mental health

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- We've heard a lot about the physical affects that COVID-19 survivors struggle with.

Studies show some suffer from heart issues, while others can't get rid of their cough. Some still cant taste their food.

One Houston man who fought to survive COVID-19 wants people to know the virus can take a mental toll too, and he wants friends and family to know when it's time to do more than check-in.

It has been nearly nine months since 35-year-old Stephen Hudson was lying in a New York City hospital bed as a coronavirus patient, intubated with both kidneys shut down. He was fighting for his life.

Then, after being discharged from the hospital, he spent six weeks on dialysis

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"COVID Long Haulers" is a group of patients who say they tested positive for COVID-19 over a month ago, but are still experiencing symptoms.



"Going three times a week for four hours each day, one of the toughest mental things I think I've ever experienced and it makes me cry thinking about it," he recalled.

It was a hard road to recovery for Hudson, a road that eventually led him back to his family in Houston.

"I keep telling everybody, 'As far as I know, I feel healed.'" Hudson said.

Still, he wants people to know, though things may seem normal, there's often more to it.

"I went to therapy because of this," Hudson admitted.

He says it helped him cope with life changes due to his COVID-19 fight.

It's why he says it's vital for loved ones to check-in and not just check-up.

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"Everybody's checking on me but I need you to check-in, because it's a difference," Hudson said. "You check on somebody, 'Hey how you doing? You all right? Good. Great.' But when you check-in with somebody, you say, 'What are you thinking today?'"

Now, Hudson's only lingering effect from his diagnosis is a new food allergy. He's allergic to avocados.

He participated in an intense Columbia University study where he had to ship specimens overnight so doctors could perform antibody tests.

They're trying to understand how patients' immune systems respond to COVID-19.

He says his goal is to do all he can to keep others from going through what he went through.

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The true number of infections in Texas is likely higher because many haven't been tested, particularly if they haven't felt sick.

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