Wow. I can’t believe it’s been one year since I had covid, thus starting my journey as a covid long hauler. It really doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. I think because it has consumed me. What I mean by that is that the effects of covid are still at the forefront of my thoughts often. I am constantly checking in with my breathing. Is it normal. Does my chest feel heavy? I need to take some deep breaths. Oh no! I don’t have my disposable mask. This means I will need my albuterol inhaler because breathing through cloth masks is much harder. These are some of the thoughts that run through my head all.day.long.
Covid Changed Me
The term “long hauler” is more well known now. I have read a lot of really good news articles detailing and validating, not only mine, but so many other’s experiences. These articles bring me solace. I spent much of last year feeling so alone in my journey. While I don’t know anyone else personally who has walked this same path, I find it comforting to see covid long haulers included in the national conversation. But the thing I want you to know most is this virus has changed me. It took something from me, and I don’t know if I will ever get it back. My quality of life is less than it was before this virus.
What My Life is Like Now
In my six month update, I talked a lot about different medications I was on. I still need those inhalers to help with my breathing. I still use my recuse inhaler as well. Honestly, I have gotten used to those things. It is what it is. While I am hoping my upcoming appointment with a specialist will give way to more effective medication, I accept that my body needs this help now. Do I now have asthma? Maybe. We will see. What is incredibly interesting about my breathing situation, is that I am able to exercise regularly. I feel like my fitness level has returned to pre-covid status. But talking through a mask for a long period of time will almost certainly cause me to need my rescue inhaler. It doesn’t make sense to me, but much of this journey has been baffling.
Fatigue and Brain Fog
Friend. The fatigue is rough. I will be going about my day, and it will hit me so hard and fast. I get this overwhelming feeling that I have to go to sleep right away, or I won’t make it. To deal with this, I usually take a twenty minute nap around lunch time (that’s typically when this sudden fatigue hits). Thankfully, my children are old enough to where I can do this. However, I need this power nap almost daily. On top of that, once my husband gets home from work in the afternoon, I will have to go lay down and rest AGAIN before dinner. This is my normal daily routine, and it is very disheartening. I have to continually remind myself that I am not being lazy. But mentally, it is hard. I don’t want my kids remembering mommy in bed so much. Recently, my six year old asked my why I sleep the most out of anyone in our family. That brought on the tears.
Secondly, there is the brain fog. Google defines brain fog as “a term used for certain symptoms that can affect your ability to think. You may feel confused or disorganized or find it hard to focus or put your thoughts into words.” It’s sneaky. I will just randomly not be able to complete a thought. Or more noticeably, my short term memory is unpredictable. There is a good chance that I will forget anything that is not part of my weekly routine. For example, that extra errand I was supposed to run. Yep, I forgot about it. Or there was the time that I was supposed to book our summer vacation, then remembered three weeks later. I say brain fog is sneaky because I can’t predict it. It feels like it creeps up out of no where, usually when I finally remember that thing that I forgot.
So, where am I one year after becoming a covid long hauler? Though my symptoms are actively present in my life, I have been able to come to some sort of acceptance. I don’t feel that daily angst and disappointment that was so intense a few months ago. I have days when frustration and weariness overtake me, but I always have the support of my AMAZING husband to talk me through the difficult moments.
Overall, from the outside, most people do not realize how much covid has effected me. The fact that I am still struggling often surprises others. There is good and bad to this. It shows from the outside, I function pretty normally in the world. I homeschool my children, do laundry, run errands, see friends, work at my part time job. However, on the flip side, I often have breathing difficulty during these activities. I always need a nap after an outing, and I have random days that is spent mostly in bed. Being a covid long hauler is a hidden struggle. I hope to continue to improve. Maybe one day there will be a magic solution to all of this.
A Long Hauler’s Final Thoughts
I want to close with this. If you know someone who is struggling as a covid long hauler. Check on them. Ask them how they are doing. They might seem fine, yet they could be struggling behind closed doors. Also, please…hear me on this….do not offer them advice on what they should or shouldn’t do to get better unless they ask you. Just don’t. You do not know what they have done. There are thousands of people struggling still one year later. If it was as simple as needing extra this or less that, we would know. Because those of us who are in this battle have tried it all. Instead, offer to bring your friend or family member dinner. Or cupcakes. Offer to baby-sit so they can have a quiet house for a few hours. Those are the things that are helpful.
I hope my story has impacted you. If it has, I would love to hear from you in the comments below and for you to share this post with your friends.