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A world permanently transformed: Life with Long COVID | Health

In the past, Meg St-Esprit would have described herself as “perfect”. A mother of four children under the age of 10 and a freelance journalist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was a man who never stopped moving. But that was in the past. Before COVID, yes, but, in particular, before his COVID case. Meg came down with the virus that caused the disease about a year ago, before Thanksgiving, 2020.

COVID is a viral infection. For some, the experience is small, painless, invisible. To some, it is similar to the flu, but only to steroids. Countless others – in the United States, 775,000 in the end – have lost their lives as a result of a disease that scientists are still learning more about every day. For Meg, who developed the second disease known as Long COVID, the recovery process has proven to be challenging and life-changing.

Although difficult to follow, she believes she contracted the COVID virus last November from her mother, who was unknowingly exposed and who helped care for the children. From then on, the virus spread to Meg; his four sons, Eli, Naomi, Ezra, and Naarah (one of them, Eli, who was suffering from asthma); and then, during the last days of her life, her husband, Josh. After all, his house remained isolated for about a month.

As her relatives began to recover, Meg noticed something strange: she seemed to be getting better. “We were all at the same time,” he said. “Now my mother was driving again.” During this time, he was struggling with important ambulatory tasks, such as climbing stairs.

Emergency bells did not ring until several weeks later. In mid-December, without COVID and starving, Meg took her children to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. “It’s got a huge circular path in the middle of the ground,” around a large space capsule, he said. This is when Meg, who is well and a month old, got into trouble. He said: “I could not put up with the climb. At the top, her heart rate continued to rise, even after a few minutes of rest. Later, she realized that she had a problem.

A follow-up visit to the doctor revealed a number of life-threatening complications. Its hemoglobin – an iron-carrying protein found in red blood cells – is calculated at 4 grams per deciliter; Anything less than 12 in an older woman indicates anemia. The most dangerous was a swollen arm that was covering the blood that had come out. He was hospitalized, where he stayed for a week. He said: “I never saw my children, and no one came to see them. “They gave me many units of blood, a lot of iron. Then they have to put me on Heparin for a long time, and that means they have to drink your blood every few hours. ”

This was over a year ago, but Meg’s medical condition did not go away. Anemia and the risk of blood clots persists, and they continue to take medication and have regular checkups in the arteries every month to check for freezing. He also introduced myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that is often associated with a viral infection.

But one of the things that really does change the lives of COVID, which Meg still struggles with on a daily basis, is the so-called brain fog. The October neurological study, published by the JAMA Network, confirmed that some patients who have recovered from COVID may experience cognitive impairment for several months after the virus is gone. These defects include loss of interest, memory loss, verbal memory, and group flexibility. “In this study,” Jacqueline H. Becker, PhD, Jenny J. Lin, MD, MPH, and Molly Doernberg, MPH, wrote, “we found a significant amount of unconsciousness several months after patients were exposed to COVID-19.”

But some patients are experiencing similar type of COVID-related complications within a year or more of being infected. Understanding of COVID is constantly changing. Likewise, it is a long-term understanding and persistence of these consequences for those who suffer.

Meg describes her brain tumor as one can trigger the early stages of cognitive decline. He struggles to find the right words at times, a responsibility in his work as a writer. Jobs that used to come in handy are a lot harder now. The volume of his work has dropped. He says this year he has worked less than 40 to 50 percent, a decrease in jobs that have disrupted his family’s finances. One phase that he has been working on for months to spread across the country – a data-driven piece that requires in-depth reporting – has been delayed. “It is very unfortunate,” he said of such work.

[Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]

Long-term studies on Long COVID do not exist, meaning that Meg and others like her – who participate in patient-centered online forums – have no clear answer as to when (or) the symptoms will end. Meg recently came to view her condition as serious. “A friend of mine is seriously ill, and he told me something,” she says. “’Now that you have an incurable disease, you should learn that some days you do not have a spoon for everything you need. Meg did not consider herself a serious patient. But then his friend made a powerful point. “They’re like, ‘You’ve been sick for a year.’ And it is very difficult to get by. ”

Meg is now struggling with the idea that her condition may be chronic. “Will this always last? How to clean? Do they understand that? “I found myself in a state of shock.” I was admitted to Long COVID Hospital, but it seems that they are just trying to get more than just solutions. ” COVID-19. * Some of these more chronic illnesses are relatively rare, a disorder that affects the way patients communicate, express their thoughts, and control their daily life.

And by continuing to undermine the ability to earn a living from cognitive-based work, Meg has found that Long COVID has also changed the nature of her moral and family life. He said, his strength is limited. The recollection of a social networking site recently reminded him of a night, not so long ago, where he boarded a bus to the city, watched a play, and went for a drink with his girlfriend. The idea of ​​a similar gathering today, after the virus, seems unlikely, he said. “I thought: this sounds like heavy and tedious,” he said. “I do not want to do that now.”

That fatigue has re-entered his daily life. COVID has already revealed the truth to American women, many of whom have resigned (a 2020 Census Bureau report reveals that approximately 3.5 million women with school-age children left the labor market in the early days of the epidemic). Meg, who taught her children at home for many years 2020 and 2021, took on a number of responsibilities: parent, teacher, full-time caregiver. With new health-related developments being added to the mix, family planning has become an accidental emotional intelligence.

Late in the afternoon, she came home with the baby and ironed, one of the most frequently needed medical procedures. Her 8-year-old daughter had a library book. “They asked me what the title page said in the book,” Meg said, but she did not have the bandwidth to give an answer. Instead, he became angry. Meg, whose children are being raised by others, are forcing themselves, she said, to act like a parent. “They [their birth parents] they chose me to be their mother. I have to be the best mom I can be. After all, I just feel like I’m not being able to do the things that matter most sometimes… I feel like I’m hurting them about what they should be doing. ”

This is the development of Long COVID, a group of diseases without clear evidence. For Meg, it is a heavy, bound and timeless moment in its time. He can tell you when it started, of course, but not when it will end. Some days, he gets angry – angry that his warning around COVID caused him to get sick, angry that the vaccine came too late, angry that some in his life did not get the plague as he should have.

There is a risk, too, of the long-term earthquake of Long COVID, of a disease that is seen in hospitals as a spectacle. Is that it? Can we be sure? The long-term symptoms of COVID are indistinguishable, the timing of which is unknown. There is no scientific explanation for why some can do it while others cannot. (For her, Meg had no risks associated with the major manifestations of the virus.)

What is left, he said, is a world permanently transformed, a world that wonders if they can stop trying so hard. This is exactly the new version, made from a single virus, one minute, November last year. “I think a lot of its features can be improved,” he said of Long COVID. “But the fog is a search term … I doubt this will be the case.”

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