San Diego ICU Nurse Battles COVID-19 Long-Haul Symptoms, Advocates for Long-Term Care

'We're going to break our health-care system,' says ICU nurse Marianna Cisneros. 'We were never meant to have an influx of patients of this magnitude all at once'

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With a new stay-at-home order under way in Southern California and some feeling COVID-19 fatigue, a San Diego ICU nurse wants to remind everyone of the dangers and possible long-term effects of the virus.

"It upsets me greatly because my colleagues and I, we put our lives on the line, so when we see people blatantly avoiding rules or not wearing masks, it just feels like a slap in the face," Marianna Cisneros told NBC 7 on Tuesday.

'We're going to break our health-care system,' says ICU nurse Marianna Cisneros tells NBC 7's Melissa Adan.

Cisneros is a San Diego ICU nurse who has been out of work for five months, battling post COVID-19 long hauler symptoms. She's now trying to raise awareness.

"We're going to have a wave of young people disabled," Cisneros said. "We're showing up to doctors' offices saying, 'Help us, please help us.' There are not enough specialists to take this on."

The ICU nurse has been in and out of the hospital twice during her fight with the coronavirus.

"Feeling fatigue, depression, anxiety, anger -- yeah, it's been there," Cisneros said.

Cisneros's fight has been so severe that her doctor diagnosed her with a little-known syndrome called POTS, a disorder of the autonomic nervous system. One common trigger is an infection.

"When you have a condition like POTS, I don't have cuts or bruises, I don't have a broken bone, I'm not walking up with a walker or cane or wheelchair, so I don't physically look ill or disabled to you, but it's all on the inside," Cisneros said.

The mother of three went from fitness competitions to struggling to walk.

"Sometimes I'm cooking dinner for my husband, and he'll come back and I'm lying on the floor because I can't stand up, and that's my reality, and I don't want it to be the case for other people," Cisneros said. "You can do something about it. You have a choice."

Cisneros said she's fortunate to have a medical background and be able to seek treatment, but she wants others to get the help they need.

"I a thousand times would rather be in the ICU helping my colleagues than at home unable to stand for 10 minutes because my heart rate shoots up," Cisneros said.

After seeing an increasing number of post-COVID patients with POTS-like symptoms, Baltimore's John Hopkins University decided to open a new clinic dedicated to the study of them.

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