The Women's Journal

Long Haul Covid, It’s VERY Real – My Story

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By Kristin Stetler Donovan, Owner, Age Advantage of Newark 

It has been a very difficult several years for everyone. There is not one person that hasn’t had their life touched by Covid. Many continue to fear, stress and be anxious, while others acknowledge its existence, but refuse to live with trepidation and are choosing to live life. Others simply don’t believe it is real. Well, I am here to tell you I have been that person who lived in constant fear and that person that chooses to live life to its fullest. However, I am NOT that person that does not believe Covid is real. It is very real and can be very scary.

Now, I don’t proclaim to be an expert on Covid, however, what I am an expert on is my own struggles: physically, mentally, emotionally and personally. I truly want people to understand as the old saying by Ian Maclaren states, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It is true, there is so much pain and suffering beyond some smiles. 

I believe I had Covid in January 2020 before it was deemed a pandemic condition. I’ve since received two vaccinations and got Covid three weeks after vaccination and again six months later. I suffered minimal effects from my January episode, however, in May I was left with residual aches, pains and breathing issues. In November 2021, this episode only exacerbated previous issues. The World Health Organization defines Long Haul Covid symptoms as:  fatigue, shortness of breath and brain fog-that remain for at least two months with no other known cause. These symptoms may linger continuously from the time of initial illness, and in some, the symptoms may reemerge after perceived recovery. Some people improve and feel better, others plateau and adjust to their new life, and some get worse and suffer greatly because they can hardly recognize themselves anymore. 

This is my story, so it is very personal. I was that person living in fear, wearing rubber gloves, masked everywhere I went. I never imagined I would get Covid, let alone three times. I am not looking for sympathy and I am grateful that I have experienced a near full recovery. I consider myself fortunate and I know many have not been as fortunate. l have experienced “Long Haul Covid,” which can come in many shapes and forms. I have some remaining breathing issues and tend to get a nuisance cough depending on what I eat, drink or simply from laughing. Again, I am a very lucky individual, as it could be much worse. After many doses of steroids, inhalers and medications, I consider myself lucky. I am here to share my story, some were not as fortunate to survive, and many others struggle much worse than I from the aftermath of Covid.

During this pandemic I experienced anxiety, fear, isolation, frustration and almost every other emotion that likely everyone felt at one time or another during the last several years. This is my story, but I’ve also been a witness to clients, coworkers, family, friends and colleagues that have endured struggles and great loss as a result of Covid. Some are still struggling from Long Haul Covid, while others are grieving the loss of loved ones. Anyone of any age may be limited from doing things they have always done by Long Haul Covid, whether their breathing or their physical ability due to aches and pains. Unfortunately, the group that struggles the most with physical limitations is that of our senior population. The most important thing per my pulmonologist is allowing your body to rest and recover. 

Being someone who very seldom asks for help and constantly pushes themselves, I was my own worst enemy. Please don’t push yourself. What your body really needs to heal is rest. If you can’t do the things that you once did due to physical aches, pains or breathing issues, there is help. The staff of Age Advantage can be a great resource to those that may need extra assistance with bathing, dressing, groceries or to simply be a companion escorting you to appointments, shopping etc. I’ve realized that everyone needs rest, everyone needs help and there is no shame in asking or needing it. If you have any questions or would like to discuss potential services please call 302-722-8240 or visit www.ageadvantage.com.