In November of 2019, I was the “healthiest” person anyone that knew me knew– active, mindful of my nutrient intake, and staunchly avoidant of “toxins”. Little did I know, I was coming down with a respiratory infection. First, it seemed like it would just come and go, but it ultimately stuck around, affecting my lungs on my long, daily walks that I loved. It was concerning– I’d randomly get terrible dizzy spells and become wiped out afterwards upon too much physical activity. I periodically had to use my neutralizer at times to stay above water. Initially, I was ignorant of what it was– or that various odd symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and the respiratory congestion could’ve all been coming from the same place.
Then came November 2020. My dad came home with “a cold”. Still trying to fight the remnants of whatever plagued me before, and informed of the threat of COVID, I told my dad to get tested. He came back, and it was COVID. Soon, my dad was admitted to the hospital, and not long after, I got the same symptoms. He was released in a couple of days without any advice on what to watch out for any signals to come back to the hospital. Days later, he became very short of breath with low oxygen. After fighting himself assuming they wouldn’t want him to come back but he probably should, he was re-hospitalized. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able make it out again.
The shock of my father being gone made everything seem unreal. Two more of my loved ones were affected within the coming three months—both my brother and cousin, who lived in different places—were in the ICU while I was still fighting the affects at home. Thankfully, they both made it out and neither were put on a ventilator, unlike my dad. Still, it was very close for both of them. Meanwhile, I was implementing all of my nutritional weapons. I refused to let anyone come over and help or comfort me out of fear I might possibly get them sick– despite the normal window of contagiousness being long passed. It was impossible just to put away a single dish some days. Everything took so much effort. I had to sit down any time I showered, and even then, it took so much energy. My mom came over and took the garbage out since the one time I tried I got extremely winded and felt the after- effects for days.
At one point in February, I went to the hospital due to a flare up of stabbing chest pain, along with sharp pain in other organs. My symptoms were concerning, and the hospital was fittingly concerned, trialling me to the front quickly. All of my vitals were normal, aside from my respiratory rate of 20 that was on the not- so- good side. When I walked in, they asked if I was running, when I simply walked from the car. They weren’t able to find any issues despite hours of tests, an X- ray, and ECG. I was relieved, but frustrated. The ER doctor who I saw late into the night told me I must have some kind of reactive airway syndrome post- covid. I explained to her how I could get winded just from sitting up and trying to find something in my purse. She admitted it was very new and they were still learning. They gave me an inhaler which when I tried brought my oxygen lower than ever (though not at an emergency level) and caused some chest pain. My oxygen level took days to get back to normal.
So, very slowly, my strength built up. The time came that I had to move out of the house I had with my father, so I slowly packed as I had the strength. With immense help from my mother and grandpa, I was fully out. I found a perfect temporary situation where I could build up my rental history, then it was time to find a place where I could have a dog I’d wanted. This time moving, I felt more capable than I had in many months. I was able to do a lot on my own, but it was taxing. After a few weeks of being settled, I started noticing yelling, stomping, and slamming above me. While I tried to mind my own business, I couldn’t ignore it after one day it escalated with a loud “thud” which I couldn’t decipher between being a piece of furniture or a person. This was interspersed with crying and yelling.
Naturally, I had to make a call for the woman’s safety. I nervously left my apartment because I didn’t want to seem like I was the one who called, knowing the nature of abusers like this. To my dismay, the police were already outside, talking to the woman. She looked annoyed, explaining that nothing was going on, as is the case in many of these situations. Not making the effort to even address the offender as opposed to the one with possible Stockholm syndrome, the cop went up to me acting like I must’ve hallucinated it. After months of continued yelling and seeming payback for trying to help the victim, there was stomping every morning at 430 am all the way until 10 or 11 pm.
I was so sleep deprived that my lungs started to burn and I felt I was getting sicker, even without being sick—not to mention the toll on my mental health. I came to the decision that I had to break my lease, and started looking for somewhere else to stay. I was amazed to find a place in the suburb of my rapidly growing city of origin, with one of the lowest crime rates in the country. It took a long time for listings to come up where I could bring my puppy—the same reason I moved into the prior apartment in the first place.
The market was extremely tight. There were several instances of listings disappearing within days—some in hours. Everything seemed perfect; I went to look at it and an older lady, friendly as can be, greeted me, acknowledging my dog in his carrier. I was delighted that she could be my neighbour and was so sweet. I called the property management company immediately to have them check my application, while being interrupted by the sweet lady talking to me through the glass door, smoking a cigarette, making the air hard to breathe and talk at the same time. While practically bothersome, I wrote it off as her simply being overly friendly—we’ve all known people like that, right?
After I moved in, the woman’s smoking habit, right outside the door of our building became an irritant for my already twice- assaulted lungs, still recovering from long COVID. After only a week or so, I began having chest pain and became exerted very easily. I could no longer go on the hikes that were one of my favourite features of the town—which partially caused me to hold out for so long in finding a place. I did think—because of my prior problems—to ask more questions about the lease upon moving in. I asked the rules about smoking and the distance from the building. He said the minimum was 50 feet, knew I had long COVID, and assured me that if it was an issue “it would be dealt with”. I reluctantly told my property manager the smoking was a problem. He remembered our conversation, very apologetic, and assured me the lady wouldn’t want to do any harm, and it would stop promptly. So, I try to be patient, and wait weeks, leaving my unit often because I couldn’t bear to be in there. I made the disturbing discovery that she had been smoking inside too. She kept her front door wide open, where the smell of fresh smoke would billow out of all day. With increasing chest pain and pain with breathing at times, I was honestly worried about dying. Naturally, I went to the doctor, concerned.
To my dismay, he seemed to doubt I could even be affected by such a thing as secondhand cigarette smoke. He asked if I’d gotten new pets lately. Well, sure (I humoured him), but he’s ‘hypoallergenic’ they come, non-shedding, and I never had the issue while having him until I moved in. Miraculously, I felt all better when not inside the house. He listened to my lungs and didn’t hear anything ‘off’ (they
didn’t hear anything when I was in the thick of covid, either). I had to beg for an X-Ray, where they found nothing. It’s very common in those with long COVID to have this happen, where numerous, more standard tests find nothing. Persistent practitioners are able to either refer out or dig deeper and indeed prove doubters wrong. He wasn’t the only one I felt gas-lighted by…
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