Healthcare, it seems, is going to be a life-long topic for my writing and activism. And this past year and a half of our collective COVID-19 nightmare has been no exception. I came down with COVID-19 at the very beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, and then, like many, I found myself trapped on a roller coaster that came to be called “long COVID.” As a long-hauler, I tracked symptoms as the virus moved through my body, targeting my kidneys, my lungs, my heart and my brain. I was unable to do more than walk around the block until about August 2020. At the time I got sick, I was taking an immune suppressant called methotrexate for my rheumatoid arthritis, but many of us will never know what kicked us from a short struggle with the virus into a long battle with effects that may be with us for the rest of our lives.
I wrote a short lyric essay for Intima about the experience, “Bubbles and Poppies.”
I wrote a labor-oriented opinion piece for Labor Notes on concerns I had about employees who would catch COVID. Many of the issues, of course, remain unresolved.
Now, as we face a fall with the variants upon us, I’m putting on my activist hat.
The FDA is currently working to speed up the approval and research of booster shots for immunocompromised patients.
I applaud that, and I support the rapid export of vaccines to countries around the world without access.
I created a petition on Change.org that I hope you will sign: Boosters for Long Covid
I worry about what a second round of long COVID will do to us long-haulers, and how many of us will survive. Many of us have rare or undiagnosed autoimmune issues or other medical issues, and some do not, but we share one trait: our immune systems were unable to fight COVID-19 and instead were taken over, meaning that with regard to this virus, our immune systems were compromised: we could not fight even a weaker version. What will happen to us after exposure to a variant? We urge you to not leave us out. Include us in your research, your list of conditions, or at least start the conversation within the scientific community.