This article is part of a series called “COVID Survivor Stories,” where we profile the struggles of those who survived a diagnosis of COVID-19, as they deal with the repercussions of recovery.
Having survived ovarian cancer in her twenties and having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 39, college professor and writer Ann Wallace thought she had been through it all. Until she became a COVID long hauler.
The New Jersey City University professor and Jersey City resident has been fighting through nearly 100 symptoms, including fatigue, migraines and stomach problems.
“I don’t think anybody really realized how long COVID can last, and how debilitating it is,” she said.
As a columnist for HuffPost, Wallace described feeling “invisible and ignored” in a recent column. She explains that these feelings have changed as awareness is growing over the conditions COVID long haulers experience, but that finding doctors to treat her conditions is trying.
“It is like a full-time job, trying to find specialists and educate them because even my very well meaning doctors don’t necessarily understand these things that I’m experiencing,” she said.
Having experienced illness at a young age, she understands the trajectory a physical illness can take, but still felt unprepared for what she has experienced as a long hauler.
“I’m well acquainted with being sick. I’m also well acquainted with getting better, “she said. “The problem here is that I’m getting better very gradually.”
She does feel relieved that the days of her feeling like she wouldn’t be able to wake up when she went to sleep are over, but still struggles to complete everyday tasks. In her latest HuffPost column, she described how getting showered and dressed each morning is a struggle, as is preparing dinner each night.
Wallace came down with COVID after her teenaged daughter Molly contracted the virus. She had come home from an academic conference, only to realize that her life was about to change.
Engaged to her fiancee Konstantin, Wallace was forced to be physically separated from her partner for nearly three months due to his work as a funeral director and her infection. She only saw him through the window of her front door whenever he would drop off food.
In spite of all this, Wallace is grateful to know that people are taking COVID more seriously with more information that has come to light since the pandemic first hit in March of last year, and that more research is being conducted on long haulers.
“Where I live, people do take it seriously,” she said. “The longhaul patient community has been doing a lot of work to conduct patient-led research, and medical researchers are making exciting progress, so I’m hopeful that patients nationwide will soon be taken more seriously.”