Without Answers, Long COVID Patients Keep the Faith

The uncertainty of the condition makes it a challenge for sufferers and caretakers.

Christian psychologist Ashley Trieu thought she had already come to terms with her body’s limits.

After years of questioning, she began to accept her cerebral palsy on a mission trip to Africa 15 years ago when she and her group leader, who is quadriplegic, discussed Paul’s thorn in the flesh.

“I realized that God had chosen to heal me at a spiritual and emotional level but not physically,” said Trieu, now a 35-year-old mother of two. “And by the end of that trip, I was not just tolerating [my disability] but embracing it.”

Then came the coronavirus.

In 2020, COVID-19 landed Trieu in the hospital. Her bout with the virus necessitated bimonthly autoimmune infusions that she will need the rest of her life. It also made her realize how much she still expected a certain level of control over her health—and how she’s needing “to rest more in the Lord’s embrace.”

Trieu is one of an estimated 7 million to 23 million Americans who are experiencing long COVID. Around 10 percent to 20 percent of those who contract the disease continue to have symptoms months later; they vary in severity but often include fatigue, brain fog, and breathlessness.

Scientists are still studying what’s behind long COVID, whether the infection persists in tissues and creates inflammation, triggers autoimmune issues that become chronic, or reactivates latent viruses like Epstein-Barr.

Regardless of the etiology, one thing is clear: Both patients and clinicians are learning to live with more uncertainty. And the people around them—family, friends, and church members who seek to care for those with this complex illness—must help them adjust to their new normal.

While church communities …

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