Alexis grew up a gifted kid but suddenly couldn’t remember the alphabet. Amanda couldn’t walk up the stairs or put sentences together. Andrew’s taste and smell took a long time to return, and his vision declined in a matter of months. Courtney experienced an inflamed throat and headaches. Jen developed dysautonomia and is no longer able to walk long distances. Jessica could only tolerate laying down for months and eventually lost her job. Keith’s taste has been permanently altered. Gena P. completely lost her taste and smell. Nataly now has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Zach had such bad brain fog that he thought he was in a dream. Gena E. just hit the twenty-month mark of having fatigue, brain fog, and burning skin sensations. Hollywood screenwriter Heidi Ferrer committed suicide because her escalating symptoms drove her to despair.
These twelve people were healthy individuals just two years ago but since contracting COVID-19, their world turn upside down. Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) is the scientific name for a syndrome more commonly known as Long-COVID. Many people continue to have symptoms or complications weeks, months, or even years after contracting the virus.
What makes me, a journalist, qualified to tackle such a huge issue as Long-COVID? During the rise of the Pandemic in late July of 2020, I came down with Covid-19, as well as my sister and friends. While they made a speedy recovery from the virus, I had the gastrointestinal symptoms every day for three months, and my lungs have never felt the same. For years I have had a dry cough from Sjogren’s Syndrome. Since coming down with COVID-19 two years ago, when I cough now, my lungs still feel tight and I struggle to catch my breath. After describing my symptoms to my Rheumatologist, he said that I have Long-COVID and that nobody knows enough about it to treat it. This is the experience of some Long-Haulers, especially early on in the pandemic. Others were told that nothing was wrong, that it was in their head, or that they were making it up for attention. Countless people are advocating for and treating themselves because nobody else will. The purpose of this project is to look at Long-COVID through both medical studies and from the lens of those experiencing it themselves.
According to a study done by PLOS medicine called “Incidence, Co-occurrence, and Evolution of Long-COVID Features,” over one in three had at least one Long-COVID symptom between three to six months after their diagnosis, which translates to roughly thirty percent of all cases. This terrifying statistic has been confirmed in numerous other studies.