Casting a long shadow – Community members share experiences after two years of COVID

April 2022 Posted in Community, Your Health

By Melissa Wagoner

It’s been two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began. And while we still have not reached the “end” (wherever that may be) Our Town asked readers to describe what the pandemic era been.

“My best friend’s marriage fell apart after 35 years…” Yvette Marty recalled. “Without all of her activities, not seeing her children and grandchildren… she took her life… I haven’t seen family in more than two years. I work from home and no longer see coworkers. For the first time in my life, I have been dealing with my own mental and physical health issues. I have felt more lonely than ever before. Confidence is more shaky and anxiety is high. Cost of living has increased making finances tighter and now with the war, its worse than ever. People are more angry, full of hate, and stressed to the limits. I pray that the world returns back to some form of normalcy.” 

“My aunt and cousin both passed away from COVID, within about a month of each other,” Megan Elizabeth shared. “Also, I work for the state, exclusively from home, on unemployment cases from two years ago. The fraud department of OED is that backed up.”

“The positive is our daughters, now four and six, got really close with each other when they weren’t able to play with friends for the majority of the pandemic,” Brittany Tangeman shared. “Some of the negatives are the ever-changing landscape of being a healthcare worker during the pandemic. Going from being respected and appreciated by the general public to now being burnt out and feeling forgotten. Anxiety continues to be high as my youngest is still too young to be vaccinated.”

“I lost my best friend, he was 50 and healthy,” Tony Samperi, Jr. said. “I lost my father, who did have COPD, but without COVID he would probably still be here. The sudden losses cause sadness, for sure, but also a greater appreciation of people close to you that are still here.”

“My hair fell out three months after having COVID…” Kathryn Billings-McKeown said. “Yes, I am alive and well, but I really miss my hair!”

“I and my family had to move continents,” Eric Hammond commented. “China back to the US.”

“I still suffer from Long COVID – two years on March 15,” Michele Stone Finicle shared.  “I had to leave my career but I have found a community of hundreds of thousands of the strongest, most uplifting people on the planet despite disability. I have served as a Long COVID patient advocate for OHSU and Kaiser Permanente and serve in a national advocacy project promoting recognition, research, resources, and treatment for Long Haulers. It has forced me to slow down, evaluate what is worth my attention, and reconnect to a slow, purposeful rhythm of life. It has completely upended my life in terribly frightening and terribly beautiful ways.”

“My issue with germs is a lot worse now,” Melissa Powell admitted.  “[I] can’t touch anything in public places without my hands feeling dirty. I got lucky though, I have a lot of vulnerable friends and family that I could have lost.”

“We lost my mom and mother-in-law to COVID,” Lichen June said. “I still struggle with Long COVID after two years (March 12). Grief during quarantine has been hard. Seeking help for a condition that the doctors and researchers do not yet understand has also been hard. I have a number of friends who also struggle with Long COVID. I hope our struggle leads to answers and ease for others in the future. I am no longer able to go to work and I had to close the nonprofit I ran. While I am not enjoying the limitations of my disability, I am enjoying my garden on our small farm and growing food for others as a way to still give back. I feel I have learned some important lessons in how to simplify my life by necessity.”

“Our public-school teachers worked so hard to take care of me and my family,” Hallie Lovegood recalled. “Even bringing us meals when we were extremely sick. They held my hand and my kids’ hands through the years that took almost everything I’ve worked for away from me. I am severely disabled from Long COVID now, and I hold on to what our teachers did for us when I need hope.”

“I could not visit my dad with Alzheimers in memory care for a year and a half,” Patti Browder recalled. “[We] had to make do with waving through a non-opening window, attempts to talk over the phone, attempts to Skype. Very confusing for someone who has little memory from one moment to the next, who has severe hearing and vision problems. Finally, my dad’s wife could take it no longer and brought him home. Six months later he peacefully passed, but it was very difficult. And still brings tears to my eyes. When asked at one point what he wanted for his birthday, my dad in a moment of clarity said, ‘for you to be inside here with me.’”

“Our neighbors started an outside socially distanced ‘happy hour’ March 19, 2020 and we have met weekly since then,” Colleen Berg Stravens described. “We live in an area where houses are far apart and we didn’t know some of our neighbors. We’ve gone through a lot together these past two years but we always knew we could count on our neighbors.”

“I was able to take the longest vacation of my entire life and career,” Nicholas Alan Coffey said. “I’m self-employed and never could find time to take time off and it forced me to take a three-month long vacation. I still made money as I do online things, but I got to do that from home. Was the best year ever.”

“I’m four months into COVID and still on oxygen,” Hazel Trask Spees described. “I spent 17 days in the hospital… If not for an answered prayer I would have died… Now I’m back home and very limited on how much I can do until my lungs heal. I was making a little money on the side to help carry me, now I can’t do that. COVID is an awful disease.”

“I got a ‘bonus son’,” Colette Clarke wrote. “My son’s best friend was living with his girlfriend in Arizona and they broke up just as COVID-19 hit. He had nowhere to go because he had a really dysfunctional family, so he came to live with us. We rode out the lockdown together and now I have two sons!”

“The isolation just exacerbated [my mother’s] dementia, and we lost her three and a half weeks ago,” Lisa Summers Kutsch said. “While the facilities may have kept the residents physically safe, it nearly destroyed them mentally and emotionally.”

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