When Rona Leaves Town
I live in Denver and while we don't typically encounter tornados in the city, the eastern plains take on the wrath of God in the tornado season. There's nowhere to hide when a tornado hits and just like the old Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton movie, "Twister," it can rip trees out of the ground and twirl cars in the air like a paper cup. Worse yet is the war-like scene of destruction left behind. I've been using the tornado analogy for awhile that when Coronavirus leaves town, it leaves a path of destruction behind. Not for everyone...we all know plenty of people by now that have had Covid. Some people have what appears to be a common cold or flu.
Others, young and old meet a more deadly outcome. Then there are the Covid "long haulers" or now more commonly referred to those suffering from "long covid." I'm finally starting to get acknowledgement from the medical community that this is not one of fifty things they've tested for or tried to diagnose me with. I'm a Covid "long hauler." I went to my "home away from home" at National Jewish Health a mere mile and a half from my house for test or Dr. appointment number sixty?
The technician injected me with a nuclear agent for the third time in as many months for yet another lung scan. As he explained the ensuing test, and looked at my chart he asked, "so you're a long hauler?" As I've mentioned, NJH is like the Mayo clinic for lungs in my own back yard. Fortunately, that provides excellent care but unfortunately, they are no better off than Mount Sinai's Covid Long Haul clinic featured on Sixty Minutes with Anderson Cooper recently.
"I think this is a mystery," said Dr. Zijian Cheng to Cooper.
To sum it up, they don't know what it is (other than to name it post acute Covid Syndrome) much less how to treat it. Two women were profiled; both athletes. One a personal trainer and another a marathon runner who like me is a veteran of the New York City Marathon. "Sadie" has seen a half a dozen doctors. While my midnight body demons arrived again last night, my mind was spinning and I counted and lost count at twenty doctors I've seen in the last eleven months.
I'd like to report progress, but I'd categorize it more as a decline. As I write this, I feel like I have internal organs cooking inside my chest. I now have two to three days a week where I have breathing panic attacks--where I'm literally gulping for air. The only thing I can do to calm it down is take a whiff of Albuterol and crawl under an electric blanket. The inhaler seems like a placebo.
I still use cold tubs to calm down my burning feet and twitching legs that happen a few nights a week usually around 12:30-1:30AM. My sleep is horrible. I'm going for a sleep study tonight. Bad sleep doesn't explain the continued low-grade fevers or any of the other freakish symptoms I've got. Depression is real. Brain fog is real.
Last week, my wife and I ordered dinner to pick up from one of our favorite local eateries, Chop Shop. We both decided what to eat, she placed the order, and I offered to pick it up. I was five minutes from the house and I knew what direction to head, but couldn't remember the street it was on nor the name of the restaurant. I pulled over and looked up a previous Uber Eats order because I did remember I ordered for my boys there the previous weekend.
Following the experts, my docs, and the 127,000+ like me on Survivor's Corp on Facebook, whatever this is, it does not discern what part of the body it attacks. It's ruthless and after it leaves town, it can leave a tornado's path of destruction in its wake.
I don't feel sorry for myself (nor do I want you to.) I do feel sorry for my wife, my kids, my siblings, my aunt, and my parents that don't know what to say or do and feel equally helpless. My wife is my rock as are my kids. Stick by stick, I hope to rebuild this small town called Seeking Boston Marathon that got hit hard by "Rona," but feel she still hasn't quite left town.