Warning – this is a longer post than normal- The material is important and I hope you will find it interesting. This is my journey as A Long Hauler Covid-19 Survivor.
On July 7 of 2020 I was diagnosed with Covid-19. I had a “mild case of it”. But I am not so sure if anyone ever has a “mild” case. I was not hospitalized and overall I thought I was one of the lucky ones. I am alive and able to continue to lead a fairly normal life. So, Indeed I am lucky.
But when I look back over the past 9 months, I see what a huge effect it has had on my life. I am not alone- in these struggles. There are many of us facing these post Covid-19 related long term effects. It is easy to think it is just in our minds- or we are being babies. But our struggles are real. We are surviving the best we can. This is not the kind of adventure I would have sought out- but it is the adventure I am on- I am just trying to make the best of it. I share this – not as a plea for sympathy- but to help people better understand what being a COVID-19 survivor looks like.
After having COVID-19 – I frequently have dizzy spells and migraines. I had to get an accommodation at work thinking it was my epilepsy and the lights but now, I do not think that is the cause. I have since been diagnosed with Glaucoma which is now beginning to be found as a side effect that some long haulers face. US News article on Covid 19 & Glaucoma . I suspect the bright lights were bothering me so much because I now have Glaucoma.
Since getting COVID-19, I have missed a ton of work. There is the initial month that I missed from having COVID-19. While I awaited Amazon sorting out my accommodation request I was out of work another month, I missed 3 weeks when I had my chest pains and was hospitalized and then recovering from my angiogram- luckily I had my trip to Hawaii conveniently scheduled- because I would not have been able to work then either (I needed that time to recover). I was terrified I wasn’t going to be well enough to go on my trip. And for my mental health I needed to go see my daughter.
In addition to these times I have had frequent days when I was too dizzy to work, or had migraines and had to go home. To be honest- I am lucky if I manage 30 hours a week.
Fatigue is a huge problem foe me. I can barely make it through a full week of work. This has hurt my self esteem and made me feel like I am lazy and a bad employee. Neither of which is true. I just am battling chronic illness. And on the days I do Survive the day-I am completely and utterly exhausted when I get home. Sometimes I push myself too far- but my body quickly reminds me that I don’t have the stamina of pre-COVID-19 Sarah. And when I overdo it – there is a price to pay- I will have worse symptoms and will get sick resulting in more missed work.
On the days that I am able to work- I will start off the day feeling great- and then Bam it hits me. Either dizziness, fatigue, nausea, stomach pains, headache, chest pains, eye pain, blurry vision and seeing bubbles in my periphery, it’s generally a combination of the above symptoms. It usually hits me around 3-4 hours in. I then have to spend the next 6-7 hours trying to fight the mental and physical pain so that I can finish my shift
The doctors now think I have POTS Syndrome (Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). This a condition that many “COVID-19 Long Haulers” are getting. This is an article on the connection between Pots and Covid 19
Most of this time off work has been without pay. I am lucky because I have a second job, a great family and friends who have made sure I am ok. Other Covid-19 Long Haulers are not as fortunate .
Not only do I have long term effects of Covid-19. I also have had huge economic hardships as well.
People ask me- “why when Amazon is so hard on your body do you stay?” I stay because I can’t afford to give up the very good medical insurance. I have my Glaucoma surgeries to do, a pulmonary function test, Tilt table test, echocardiogram, this on top of the numerous EKG’, multiple stress tests, angiogram, hospitalization, numerous ER visits. Medical stuff in the USA is EXPENSIVE even with good insurance. But I have excellent insurance- I may not love Amazon- but I do need the excellent insurance they provide. I don’t have time to get into all the problems with our healthcare system.
I am constantly making lifestyle changes to try to navigate this illness. I eat healthy – I am working on hydrating better, trying to achieve life balance and attempting to get regular sleep. I am a work in progress. 😀
This is just some of what it’s like for me. The list of symptoms is so long it is easy to forget some. This illness is not something you want you or a loved one to get.
I am aware that ultimately I don’t have the stamina or desire to stay at Amazon forever. I have gone back to school to become a health coach. So hopefully I can eventually help other people make lifestyle changes to improve their health. But for now I try to take it one day at a time.