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Eight months after getting COVID-19, one Kalamazoo woman is still battling the effects

A couple smiling at the camera. The woman has a feeding tube.
Courtesy of Becca Meyer.

Michigan now has more than 378,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday, Nov. 30. Many of those who are sick will come out of this okay. But some, like Rebecca Meyer, will suffer long term effects, what doctors call "long haul COVID."

Meyer lives in Kalamazoo. She was a healthy 31-year-old when she got COVID in March. It’s been eight months since then.

And she’s still sick.

She uses a feeding tube every day. Sometimes she can’t get out of bed.

She has four kids ages seven to 13, but she hasn’t been able to play with them for a while.

"I can't go out and throw a football, I can't go out and play with my kids, I can't because then I'm in bed for a week," Meyer said.

Her boyfriend, Garrett Jackson, lost his job because he needed to stay home to take care of her and the kids.

Jackson and Meyer share how their life looks a lot different now than it did eight months ago.

Garrett:  It started off mild. I mean, it didn't really do much.

Becca: Just hit me like like a train one day. Yeah. I couldn't walk to the bathroom without having to take a rest.

Garrett: Sleeping 20, 22 hours a day.

Becca: I lost a lot of my hair.

Garrett: She was extremely, extremely skinny.

Becca: So essentially, COVID has just started this immune response in my body that can't calm down. They haven’t figured out a way to calm it down.

Becca: COVID has caused a lot of post-COVID issues, like I have thyroid issues now. I have liver issues now. Obviously, the feeding tube.

Becca: People are just not getting better. Sure, they're not on a vent or whatever, but they're not living life either.

On COVID's impact on her family

I'm tired of being sick, but, you know, the longer we go on about life, like we're not in a pandemic, the longer we're going to be in a pandemic.

Becca: You know, I've been so consumed in myself and my sickness that I don't consider them or him or the kids. You know, it's bad. I have to, like, I don't know, consciously remember that it's not just me that's affected by me being sick. COVID has really brought me and my middle son a lot closer. I think it's mostly out of worry. He's always texting me from his iPad. 'How are you feeling? What can I do for you?' So it's very sweet. The oldest has a hard time with it. He feels like - like, I'm not going to be there for him in the future and that’s hard.

Garrett: I can't even really tell you the last time that we kissed or hugged or I mean, without the tube or her feeling bad or anything like that.

Becca: I've been sick for so long but we still laugh every day.

Garrett: We've cried together. We've laughed together.

On how COVID has changed them

Garrett: I wasn't the person I am before COVID. Yeah. That I, I know that, she knows that, everyone knows that.

Becca: I think he's so much more of a caretaker now.

Garrett: I care more about the world in general. I cared a lot about myself. Now I care more about other people.

Becca: It's hurtful to get on social media and see people that don't believe. And we've lost family members. We’ve had to cut family members off.

Garrett: And that's fine. I mean, at this point, if that's the way it has to be, that's the way it has to be. I mean, I'm not going to put our family at risk because you don't want to believe in what's happening around you.

Becca: I'm tired of being sick, but, you know, the longer we go on about life, like we're not in a pandemic, the longer we're going to be in a pandemic.

Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.
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