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In Progress


Fog creeps in, seeps in slowly. It’s a tricky fucker. Slipping into the tiniest of crevices, spaces you didn’t know were there. Your mind slows to a crawl. Words slip away, just out of reach. Mental tasks that were so easy before are impossible now. Your thoughts are trapped in a dense, damp mess that you can’t see through or push away. Slowly you begin to live with it. Live in it. 

You’re unable to pinpoint the exact moment the fog took over – you’re the frog on slow boil – but eventually you can’t deny that it has. You realize this is it. The clarity you once had is gone. This is life with Long COVID. No more Life 1.0 … Life 2.0 has begun. Life-adjacent. Life-like. Life-ish. Life sorta kinda.

I’m reminded of a song I had on repeat during my teen years; Depeche Mode’s “Master and Servant.” The lyric goes “You treat me like a dog, get me down on my knees.” I’m the dog, down on my knees. I’m the servant and the fog is my master. On rare days I’m allowed out. But always, the servant heeds its master. Afterall, “Domination's the name of the game.” Playtime always ends, and when it does, it’s back to the fog and the certainty that this is my life now.

A single coronavirus
Selfie by Lance with Amy sleeping in a bed at Beth Israel during one of Amy's many medical appointments for Long-COVID.


AFTERSHOCK follows the advancement of a silent, second pandemic that quietly snatched millions from public life while the world carried on. All efforts first focused on fighting the more immediate, dramatic spread of the initial pandemic. As the most acute phase of the pandemic came to an end, life for many picked up where it had left off.


But it wasn’t over for everyone. Long COVID is believed to occur in at least 10 percent of SARS-CoV-2 infections. Harvard professor David Cutler estimates that the impact of long COVID will rival that of the Great Recession, costing the U.S. economy over $3 trillion. We wouldn’t know it from reading the news. Either disinterested or disbelieving, life goes on for many as an estimated 3 million full-time U.S. workers find themselves out of work and mostly housebound thanks to long COVID.

AFTERSHOCK unfolds across two parallel story lines:


The first begins by tracking the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, its spread and the public confusion, fear, panic, anger, and activism that followed. As massive resources are thrown at discovering a vaccine, a mysterious post-viral condition emerges, ignored by many medical professionals while simultaneously befuddling the doctors and researchers paying attention, leaving patients on their own to diagnose and treat strange new symptoms

In the second story line, Amy shares her first-person account of falling ill at the very start of the pandemic followed by months on the medical merry-go-round that was (mis)diagnosis, treatment, failure and disappointment followed by new (mis)diagnoses, new treatments and so on. Included on this carnival ride are medical gaslighting, paternalism, medical bills, the specter of job - and medical insurance - loss, and thick envelopes in the mail from insurance companies ...  she knows she's lucky to be insured in the first place. 

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