METERHis wife, Heidi, took her own life after a 13-month battle with Covid that began as a mostly asymptomatic coronavirus infection. Long Covid took her from one of the healthiest and most vibrant people I have ever met to a person so weakened that he couldn’t bear another day on this planet.
I came home one day in May last to discover that she had decided to end her pain. As our 13-year-old son waited outside for paramedics, I desperately tried to revive her. I did a good enough job that when we took her to the hospital they were able to restart her heart, but when she arrived she was brain dead. The ER doctor assumed that he had died of depression. When I said, “She wasn’t depressed, it was Long Covid,” he looked at me puzzled and asked, “What is Long Covid?”
Last night I got a desperate Twitter message from a man whose wife could be the next Heidi. He has a lot of Covid and it threatened to end his life. He had already told his eight-year-old daughter of his plan. I called him immediately. Heidi and his wife suffered from unexplained neurological tremors and internal chest cavity vibrations so bad that they lost the ability to sleep.
Like prisoners of war who are kept awake for days as a method of torture, their minds lost the ability to make sound cognitive decisions. He knew the terror of this man. Unfortunately, your call was not an anomaly. I have responded to requests like yours every day since my wife obituary It went viral and I started sharing our story with the media.
My wife, Heidi Ferrer, was a screenwriter with a background in social advocacy and an empathetic heart. She was talented, beautiful, and the most dedicated mother you will ever meet; we often referred to it as “sunlight on a dress.” He defeated a decade-long battle against alcoholism only to find an adversary in long Covid that was far more insidious. Three weeks before he died, we were already terrified that he would die, not by his own hand, but from a stroke or a heart attack. She said her heart often went out of control for no reason, and she was ahead of scientists in understanding that this virus also infects the brain.
Heidi also suffered from ongoing gastrointestinal issues, exhaustion from just climbing a single flight of stairs, extreme body aches, mental confusion, and a host of other ailments. All this, without any hope on the horizon of a cure, much less recognition from the medical world, led her to the place where she asked me that, if something happened to her, I would tell the world how long the covid lasts. I made this promise without thinking that I would actually have to act on it, without imagining that only three weeks later I would return home to find that she had decided that death was preferable to another minute in her own personal hell.
Watching her for a long time systematically disarmed by Covid, organ system by organ system, was the most terrifying deterioration of a human being that I have ever witnessed. My wife was an avid 90 minute treadmill a day, eating only organic (and mostly vegan) foods, and had not had an alcoholic beverage in three and a half years. Within six weeks of noticing “toes covid“And some gastrointestinal problems that he could barely walk due to excruciating pain in the nerves in his feet so extreme that it simulated advanced diabetic neuropathy.
Long Covid doesn’t come for all of you at once; Instead, with methodical precision, he steals you slowly. Heidi lost her mobility and her ability to eat. She was a lifelong avid reader, but brain fog (better considered a cognitive dysfunction) deprived her of the ability to retain information. Even urinating and eventually, cruelly, sex became painful. Long Covid seemed to steal every part of his life that made it worth living.
After Heidi’s obituary went viral, I connected with Survivor corps, the world’s largest long Covid advocacy group. They asked me if I would be willing to tell Heidi’s story on a large scale. Remembering my promise to Heidi, I accepted. As she shared her story, my Facebook and Twitter inboxes began to fill up with messages from longtime Covid sufferers around the world. They were in horrible pain, but their doctors felt bad. They described the same tremors and vibrations that tortured Heidi. As with Heidi, no one believed them. My girl was the canary in the coal mine.
Sadly, seven months later, the global medical community has done little to accelerate the investigation of these terrifying symptoms. I suspect the risk of prolonged Covid-related suicides will only increase. We will never have an exact count of global infections, but preliminary research suggests that at least one in three – one of three People who contract Covid will develop prolonged Covid symptoms. If just one in 20 of those long-term Covid patients is left disabled or severely weakened, we could be seeing a worrying rise in suicides around the world.
Suicide is not like death from natural causes or even a horrible accident. It is planned and its psychological shrapnel hurts generations. None of us, not me, not my son, not Heidi’s family or friends, will ever be the same again. I do not pretend to be alarmist, but we are in a real crisis. The global medical community must come together to find answers for those who suffer. They are all Heidi and they are running out of time and hope.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism