COVID-19 is more than a virus. It’s a test. It’s a test of our humanity – our love and compassion towards each other. Grandpa Sam used to call it “Cobalt” and asked to talk about it every day. He said he thought it was all hype – the virus, the pandemic, the vaccinations. So when he was hospitalized with COVID and we found out he had already been vaccinated, we were surprised. Of all my pandemic memories, his experience is the one I remember the most. When he got out of the hospital, he proclaimed he was a changed man, at the age of 96, and talked about how much he wished he could live some of his life over and differently. When I remember him, I am holding his hand close to my heart. We talk about him fondly and honor him every day. We count our blessings that other family and friends are still with us.
I think the second worst thing about COVID, other than it being a deadly illness, is all the hatefulness, finger pointing, fear and isolation it has caused. People battle the illness and lasting health issues in private because of how we treat one another. People seem more concerned about their opinion or political position than with the well-being of their fellow human. When people are afraid, they act in ways we ordinarily wouldn’t act. Should I get vaccinated? Should I get boosted? If I’m not vaccinated, do I tell people? The last time I experimented with a new medication, it was under the guidance and recommendation from my doctor – not from a clinic, the government, a social media video or employer. You get the point. Individually, our medical histories are different and our doctors study them carefully before suggesting if it’s okay to take something as common as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. So if people are being cautious, I understand. If people were jumping right in, I understand. And that’s all I’m saying. We should all show compassion, empathy and understanding to one another.
I know so many who have had COVID. Some got through it with little discomfort while many others were hospitalized or even passed away. Mostly I noticed the mental impact it has had on people. I was able to avoid the virus for a long time. And when it hit, I didn’t feel awful. But it did leave me with lasting health problems. I also found my anxiety was one of the things that worsened and I didn’t understand why. I had not heard of COVID brain. “Nearly half of patients report either poor memory or brain fog” according to the latest study for “anyone who has been infected with SARS-CoV-2” (AMA, February 17, 2023). In my job, I can see the lasting mental impact it has had on the population daily.
Through it all, I continue to help people and do what I can. I work, go to the store, run errands. I put myself out there and take care of others when I could. A lot of people did. At the good of it all, we pulled together. We shared information and any remedies we heard of to try to help one another. We did what we could for one another. At our worst, we didn’t treat others well and let our emotions and opinions get in the way of being there for each other. We shouldn’t need a sign to remind us to be nice to workers – or to anyone.
Keep in mind we are still dealing with COVID – the effects of the pandemic, economic and employment fall outs and, most of all, dealing with brain health issues. I encourage you to stop and take a breath. Think of people as family, as friends. Greet them warmly. Be patient and give people a break. We are all dealing with something.
~I’m here to help
American Medical Association. Retrieved from: https://www.ama-assn.org/
Berg, Sara. February 17, 2023. AMA. What doctors wish patients knew about long COVID-19 brain fog. Retrieved from: https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/what-doctors-wish-patients-knew-about-long-covid-19-brain-fog#:~:text=%E2%80%9CWhen%20we%20think%20about%20brain,fog%20was%20my%20main%20symptom.
CDC. December 16, 2022. Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html
Hampton, Tracy. February 23, 2022. MGH News and Public Affairs: Harvard University. Pandemic Stress and the Brain: Pandemic-related stressors may lead to brain inflammation in people not infected with SARS-CoV-2. Retrieved from: https://hms.harvard.edu/news/pandemic-stress-brain