Hi. My name is John, and I’m a Longhauler.
“So there it is. It’s right there on the end table. It’s, like, two feet away from your hand. You know you want it. You know you need it. Just reach out and grab it.”
The “it” is a water bottle. And it is mocking me. Sitting there all full of refreshing liquid.
“Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!”
Tell anyone who has had COVID that you have COVID or are a Longhauler and the first piece of advice most will give you is to drink copious amounts of water. This is probably good advice, though I’m no doctor, nor am I one of those people on the sidelines of football games whose purpose for existing is to squirt water into the mouths of players who seem to me to be perfectly capable of completing such a task themselves.
You know who needs those water-squirters? Longhaulers. Because, quite literally, there are times we can’t do it ourselves.
So many people have such a tough time explaining their Longhaul COVID symptoms to those who love them. And, God, all of us are struggling so hard to be understood. So here’s how I explain Longhauler exhaustion: I tell them about the times when my brain recognizes my body needs water and actively tries to communicate to my arm to reach out and grab the nearby bottle … but my arm refuses to cooperate. “No,” says my arm (which is quite shocking. Arms shouldn’t be talking, right?) “No, I’m not going to do that. As a matter of fact, I’m going to just stay right here and not do anything.”
“Oh, John. You a funny boy,” you say.
Yes, I am. But I’m not joking about this.
On more than one occasion … on more than 10 occasions … I have wanted to grab something and been unable to move to get it. I have wanted to get up and do something … anything and not been able to. I have literally been unable to move.
That is Longhauler exhaustion. That is what your loved ones and caregivers need to understand.
And that is what I want the NFL to understand so that they will lend me a water-squirter until all this Longhaul stuff goes away.
Make it happen, Roger Goodell.
John Agliata is a professional storyteller. You can try to start a conversation with him by emailing him, commenting or sending him a carrier pigeon. He was diagnosed with COVID on Nov. 14, 2020 and is now officially a Longhauler. He fully recognizes that every person’s Longhaul journey is different. This is simply his journey, which he shares in the hopes that it will help fellow Longhaulers explain their lives to those who love them.