Some of Colorado’s first COVID patients still have lingering symptoms one year later


AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Jill Spencer was the first COVID-19 patient treated at The Medical Center of Aurora in March 2020.

The 51-year-old from Chicago contracted COVID while vacationing in Vail and developed respiratory failure.

“March 13 I was unconscious and intubated and in an ambulance on the way to Aurora,” Spencer said.

In many ways it’s hard for her to believe it’s been almost a year.

“I’m probably 90% back to who I was before all of this happened. I am overwhelmingly grateful more than anything else,” she said.

Spencer moves forward day by day with a smile as she continues to deal with lingering symptoms like a lack of endurance and brain fog.

“The COVID fog for me is an issue with concentration,” she said. She added that it is hard for her to absorb what she reads. It’s sometimes hard to find her words, and she still has trouble sleeping.

“I would say it’s getting better, but it’s a challenge and it’s a frustration because I didn’t used to be this way,” she said.

Brittney Hansen of Highlands Ranch is another former COVID patient who is still dealing with some issues.

“We’ll cry if we don’t laugh about it,” Hansen said.

The pain in her lung, numbness in her hands and brain fog are all improving, but things like coffee and meat still smell rancid to her.

“It smells a bit like rotting flesh, and it makes you want to vomit,” she said.

Hansen has become a vegetarian and tries to avoid certain foods and products.

“My ENT says it could be permanent, so I guess it’s just a new normal,” she said.

She is adjusting and is full of hope as she approaches her one-year COVID anniversary.

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