Hi. My name is John, and I’m a COVID Longhauler.
There are times in a person’s life in which he finds himself wondering how he got where he is. I remember feeling that way as I sat in my dorm room before freshman year started at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, more than 1,000 miles away from my suburban New York City home. I felt that way the night before I married my wife, the singular best decision I’ve ever made.
That feeling revisited me Tuesday morning as I sat in a comfortable leather chair at Wildwood Integrative Healthcare in St. Louis with a bag of my own blood hanging above me and a tube stained red feeding into my right forearm.
The blood had been taken from me 20 minutes earlier and then infused with ozone, which, prior to my Longhaul journey, I thought of only as the layer of our atmosphere our humanness was destroying. When my functional medicine doctor mentioned this as a possible next step to help me overcome the fatigue, brain fog and general shittyness of Longhaul COVID, I did my research.
I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I have reached a point where the once absurd sounds like something not so bad to try, especially if there’s the hope dangling out there of feeling consistently better.
“Three treatments,” Dr. Laura said. “It’s worth a try. Other Longhaulers are having success with it. I’ve done it myself for another situation, and it helped immensely.”
So I made an appointment because, hey, at this point, what’s another couple hundred bucks per treatment not covered by insurance?
If you listen to the scholarly articles from a variety of practitioners of traditional medicine, I’m probably wasting my money. There’s no scientific studies in America that say, “This works!” Of course, there are also no scientific studies anywhere that say traditional medicine has a clue what to do about Longhaul COVID, so perhaps turning to them as a source on this is like turning to an NBA center for advice on how to fit into tiny spaces.
The theory is that the ozone, followed by infusion of ultraviolet rays directly into the circulatory system, goes after nasty things in our blood such as viral remnants too small to detect by traditional medicine tests. Ozone is O3, whereas the oxygen in our blood is O2. This makes ozone Britney Spears-unstable (#freebritney), with an extra atom whose purpose in life at that point is to find a viral molecule to say “Hey there. How’s it going?” before leading it into a dark alley and beating the crap out of it, rendering it dead and/or unable to reproduce. It’s all pretty gangster, and that alone made me willing to try it.
Ozone infusion has been used in medicine for more than a hundred years, though it remains without FDA approval and conclusive studies that show it works with scientific certainty. This, of course, pushes it to the fringe and gives it the label “alternative medicine,” a term I’ve become 100 percent OK with after my experiences with accepted Western treatments.
To be honest, I was and am dubious, which is a bad state in which to be if you’re really hoping something is going to work. It’s hard not to be, though, when you’ve tried so many things for so long and found very little consistent relief. That said, I’m committed to this and trying to stuff down the skepticism by thinking, “Hey, why not this?”
So how’d the first treatment go? Perfectly fine. All I did was sit there, read a book and then listen to a podcast. The doctor and nurses did a great job making me feel comfortable, the IV stick didn’t hurt that bad, and in just more than an hour, I was done. That afternoon and evening, I felt a bit like I was catching a cold or flu and was beyond the normal tired. But that could have been because of the insomnia that had me awake before 4 a.m. that morning. Who knows?
The next day, I felt back to whatever the hell normal is these days, though no better for the blood-letting. I am scheduled to go back next week for round two, than the following week for what might be the final one. The doctor says it might take up to six or eight treatments, which, at $250 per, is no small investment. If it works, I’m happy to spend that money. If it doesn’t, there’s no money-back guarantee. That kinda sucks.
Which leads me back to where I began this little missive.
I sat there in that brown leather chair watching the blood flow into my arm — because why not? — and shook my head. How have things come to this? Some idiot eats a bat or some lab messes around too much with a virus and people start getting sick. Our idiot former president treats it as “Just one guy coming from China” and our idiot citizenry shows that masks are too far to go to keep their fellow humans safer, and wham — there I am, sitting in some small medical office in some small suburb on the outskirts of some small American city having my blood taken, messed with and put back in.
What the hell, people?
What the actual hell?
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