Through The Thorns with Covid-19, The Long Haulers’ Mystery

through the thorns with covid 19 the long hauler's mystery 2
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Today I’m going to be telling you the story of a dynamic woman who my children call aunt Katie.  Not only is Katie the most generous of my family members but she is also very kind to people of all walks of life. She has faced some very difficult adversities in her life but by the grace of God has victoriously overcome them. Scriptures say that the Lord delivers the afflicted by their afflictions and I think Katie’s struggles model the words of that verse. She contracted the corona virus in early April and to this day is still struggling with the aftermath of this lethal virus. She belongs to a growing group diagnosed as long haulers. I had an opportunity to interview her about her ordeal with covid19 and she was willing to share her  story in hope that it will inspire those that may be  going through the same circumstances and educate the general public about the long haulers’ mystery.

How did it all start? It was early April and the mask mandate wasn’t in effect yet. A coworker of Katie was exuding flu-like symptoms and had to stay home for a week. Upon her return, she had an inhaler and was told by her doctors that she was “fine” since no one at the time was testing for Covid-19 yet. Several days later, Katie started feeling sick. She was experiencing fatigue and shortness of breath that were out of the ordinary. Three days later, as she got up early in the morning to prepare for work, in her words

 I knew something was wrong, everything seemed fuzzy

As she arrived at work, she attempted to send an email and couldn’t get past the first sentence. She felt congested, very hot, sweaty and coughed a lot. A few hours later, it became obvious that she was sick. She was instructed to go to an urgent care center and drove herself there. She was given a series of tests and the doctor’s diagnosis was-no strep,no flu and chest X-ray clear. Katie inquired more about her condition and was told that  the corona virus could be a possibility. The Urgent Care couldn’t test for it because the test kit was not available. She was then prescribed an over the counter medicine for her coughs,   and  was told to call them back in case the coughs persisted or call 911 she could not breathe. She stayed home, quarantined and progressively became worse and I quote

 I had severe congestion, I was coughing, vomiting, and had severe diarrhea, abdominal pain. I also had tightness in my chest and a burning sensation throughout my entire body as if my flesh was burning under my skin

 

through the thorns with covid 19 the long hauler's mystery 1
She developed rashes all over her body, and the picture above shows some of the skin reaction her body sustained

 The pain was so excruciating that she felt numb and passed out. She became physically weak, developed nose bleed, ringing  ears, severe headaches and her fever would spike over 101. She woke up in the middle of every night drenched in sweat. She was also extremely bloated and went from 138 lbs to 150 lbs because of the inflammations her body was sustaining,. and I quote again 

 I drank about 10 bottles of Gatorade every day 

through the thorns with covid 19 the long hauler's mystery 1
she was experiencing tremors , involuntary movements of her fingers. She couldn’t control it

In the midst of this sequence of unbearable symptoms, a good family friend, Kevin  who happened to be a physician kept checking on Katie just to just monitor her condition. Alarmed by her deteriorating physical state, he immediately recommended that she went to the hospital. Katie’s sister Sue called a good family friend named Tracy who didn’t hesitate to drive Katie to the hospital. She was put in a secluded place reserved for all suspected covid-19 patients. But because she didn’t have any underlying medical conditions ( wasn’t considered an at- risk patient), she was once again denied the covid-19 test. The hospital  listened to her lungs and came up with a double- pneumonia diagnosis. She was denied any other forms of tests or treatments because they didn’t want those with “underlying medical conditions “to be exposed to her- the hospital staff was pretty much following protocol. But her discharge papers also included the label suspected covid-19 patient. So she was sent home to self quarantine and self -evaluate. 

Katie continued to decline and as a safety measure, her sister Sue who resides in Tennessee would call Katie and leave her phone on for the entire day just to listen to her breathe. Sue told me during the interview

 I just wanted  to make sure she was still alive

Sue also sent Katie an incentive spirometer ( device used to help your lungs recover after surgery or a lung illness)to help with her breathing. Kevin urged her to see a specialist immediately because she was getting worse. With Sue’s help, Katie was able to find one via Zocdoc and the reason why they picked him was because they thought he would see her in person. But the morning of the supposed visit, Katie was told it was going to be a tele visit. Her initial visit with the specialist took place on May the 11th; in the meantime she was still experiencing the same symptoms. She was also given specific instructions  on how to take her medicines to avoid  possible overdose. Finally on May the 12th she underwent the Covid-19 test and tested positive for the virus- this is exactly  33 days after she started feeling sick. The health department called her right after she was confirmed to be a covid-19 patient and told her to self quarantine. The health department worker was shocked to discover that Katie had been in this condition for this long, and also flabbergasted that the test wasn’t administered sooner. The doctor prescribed hydroxychloroquine and another antibiotic. As we were going through the interview, I asked Katie if she had a support system given the severity of her condition. And I would quote her initial reaction

Nothing from healthcare providers. The main support came from family members , friends and neighbors who brought me food, picked up my medication , drove me to doctors’ appointments, and shipped me medical supplies.

The person who stood out as a main player during this ordeal is Sue, Katie’s older sister whom I already mentioned. She was very instrumental and essentially went way beyond the norm to assist her suffering sister. She was very angry with Katie in the beginning because Katie wasn’t wearing a mask and actually used the dreaded phrase “ I told you so…” But after her initial frustration, she literally communicated with Katie via phone almost 24/7 until she returned to work. Sue coordinated with other people to help Katie with  getting her medicine, making doctors’ appointments, and  food delivery. I asked sue during the interview to tell me about some of the specific things that she did and I quote

 I got her a diffuser with essential oils that help with breathing. I searched for doctors, put her house on forbearance, put her credit cards on hold. I contacted the  FMLA ( to protect her  job). I tried to get her  the stimulus check but couldn’t get it, because she couldn’t file her taxes. I helped her file for unemployment and forced her to follow up on it. I gave her a schedule for medicine. I was literally  Katie’s voice until she could talk.

There were several other people who also aided Katie tremendously but for the sake of keeping the story short, I won’t be mentioning them. As much as outside help is needed in times like this, there is nothing that anybody can do to alleviate the psychological turmoil that the sufferer feels. So I asked Katie about where she found the strength to carry on. And she mentioned the following instance that I will share with you. Because she thought she was surely going to succumb to the virus, she started writing goodbye letters to all her loved ones. On one specific morning, her alarm went off, but because she was too weak to get out of bed, she kept saying to herself “ I’m not getting up”. Then she heard an inner voice saying “ give me your hand”. She recalled her late father used to say the same words to her when she was kid. She first ignored the prompt to get out of bed and once again she heard that inner voice with the same instruction, but now authoritatively. And she obeyed the command, rose out of bed and took her medicine. Let me pause for a minute and clarify a couple of things here. No one except the Eternal God who exists objectively can give a command that produces an action. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Now back to the story; Katie said that the event occurred on a day when she felt the weakest. But she knew she was protected.  At that point nothing else mattered but the people she loved. She put all of her God-given strength into getting healthy again. I would love to tell you that everything became glorious after that. But this isn’t a Hollywood story, Katie became so desperately ill that she at one point  said to her sister Sue: “ I don’t think I’m going to make it”, to which Sue sternly replied “ Knock it off”. Katie also found a lot of strength via weekly meetings with family members that included bible reading, fasting and prayer on her behalf.

I’m sure at this time, most of you who are reading this are wondering if Katie was ever going to recover from this malady. I will say there is good news and not so good news. As of early June, Katie tested negative officially for the Coronavirus. But she is still experiencing the same symptoms that she had in the beginning hence why she is labeled as a long hauler. The symptoms come in flashes, are irregular, unpredictable and are debilitating. Disability has questioned her integrity and honesty because they believed she is self-evaluating and  might be deluded. Katie really wants people to understand how hard it is to live this way. Health workers and the general public are under the assumption that long haulers are making up their condition. She wants people to know how real the long hauler condition is. She was once told by her doctor that her body was similar to the aftermath of Katrina when it hit New Orleans, in other words her whole immune system has been compromised. Katie has  had the most support  that one could ever ask for but at times she still feels so defeated. She wants people to believe the long haulers’ testimonies even if the tests come negative. I’ll quote Katie again

We don’t even know the beginning of what’s to come. It’s to the point where some people are being denied the tests now because tests are coming negative. The symptoms are  lingering and that’s the scary part “Katie also added that there has been  a lot of misinformation about this virus and anyone could be vulnerable.

We ended the interview with many words of grace from Katie. She doesn’t hold it against the health care workers because they are doing exactly  what they are told by the establishment. She wants to say thank you to all her family members, her lovely neighbors and all of those who have helped in any way, shape or form. 

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