For Louise Salant, long COVID has meant new stress, new responsibilities, and multiple medical crises to manage. It’s transformed her life.
But there’s a twist. She’s had to deal with this condition not just as a patient but also as a caregiver for her 86-year-old aunt Eileen Salant, who has coped with long COVID’s disabling symptoms for almost three years.
Eileen and Louise both caught an acute bout of COVID-19 in March of 2020. Eileen had been taking care of her brother, who was admitted to a New York City hospital with heart failure during those dark days of the early pandemic. He got COVID there, and died from his infection with the virus. Both aunt and niece also became very ill.
She found that being a caregiver for someone with long COVID, as for other serious and chronic medical conditions, is not just being an aide. It’s running the patient’s life. “Every single day, there’s something she’d need,” Louise says. “I was dealing with the pharmacy, dealing with the doctor, keeping her schedule. And when I’m not there, I’d worry. I have to always be available on the phone.”
She showers once a week, and for the next six weeks—approximately four months into our new pandemic normal—I will be the one to bathe her. Her...