Mike, Age 47, New York
Before getting COVID-19, I worked full-time as an academic advisor at a nearby college. I walked with a cane when outside as a result of a car accident a little over seven years ago, but I could walk fast and carry heavy loads (groceries, laundry, etc.) if necessary. I was noted for my memory and my ability to keep my cool, no matter what issues students or faculty came to me with.
Everything changed when I got COVID-19 in May of 2020. I’ve had over 40 symptoms of Long COVID, including both physical and cognitive issues. My memory has been seriously affected, and I have great difficulty with sequential thinking and following directions. I’ve had to work extremely hard to be able to write again, and I’ve been a writer all my life. I also have spikes in my blood pressure and pulse that are disproportionate to stimuli and are often made worse by positional changes and/or exercise. I am almost always fatigued and now have great difficulty walking even short distances.
I’ve been diagnosed with dysautonomia, orthostatic intolerance, and tachycardia. My primary care doctor suspects I have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and small fiber neuropathy. I was let go from my job almost a year ago, and it's been extremely difficult to get by on unemployment and my wife's social security disability income.
I wish people would understand that: (a) these conditions are real and debilitating, (b) much more research and funding are needed to develop effective treatments, and (c) vaccines, while extremely important in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19, do not make you invulnerable and are not cures for COVID itself or Long COVID.