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Public Health

Audio Diary: Life As A COVID-19 Long Hauler

A photo taken outdoors of Jennifer Cantley who is wearing a grey zip-up jacket. She’s in focus with mountains and sagebrush in the background out of focus.
Courtesy of Jennifer Cantley
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Jennifer Cantley from Douglas County is a mom of three boys and an environmental activist. She is also a COVID-19 long hauler. Her son Gabriel, 9, took this photo.

Jennifer Cantley from Douglas County tested positive for COVID-19 in early November and she’s still experiencing symptoms.

She has a pre-existing condition that has made it harder to recover. Last year, she was diagnosed with what’s called a pseudotumor. This causes extra fluid which puts pressure on her brain.

Throughout all this, she’s juggling life as a mom of three kids, and work. She’s an activist for an environmental organization called Moms Clean Air Force.

In this audio diary, Cantley describes her experience as a COVID-19 long hauler.

Of course, COVID hit me right on the day of the election. That’s when my fiancé got diagnosed. It just was all these emotions at one time because it’s, like, the words you don’t want to hear as a mom who has asthma and then two children who have asthma. And then, ‘Bam! Oh, now you’ve got COVID.’

November 5th was when I just started, all of a sudden my body started feeling achy. You know, it felt like a cold was coming on. It took me about six weeks to recover, and I think it might’ve been because I never really got to rest.

A photo of Jennifer Cantley with her arms wrapped around her three sons. In the background are mountains and sagebrush.
Credit Courtesy of Jennifer Cantley
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Jennifer Cantley (center, back) with her sons Gabriel, 9, (left), Jaxson, 7, and Joey 10.

  It was probably about four weeks after I was diagnosed when I first started [having] the headaches. [The headaches] were just, like, really pounding. It was headaches and not being able to sleep at all. I could barely see straight and I couldn’t even open my eyes.

The interesting thing is, my ear ringing was a new thing. It turned from the high pitch, like a fire alarm ringing, to this low bass, like a fog horn going off and it would go like, Mmmmm, like really low.

They now have me on six different medications to tame this, all these different headaches. Yes, I may get my smell back. Yes, the symptoms may go away, and I pray to God they do and I don’t have to be on medication, but right now I’m classified as a long hauler.

Hear more from Cantley and other community members in KUNR’s hour-long special “A Year In The Pandemic.”

KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck produced this audio diary. Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Support Lucia’s Report for America reporting. Headshot of Lucia Starbuck. She is sitting in the KUNR newsroom and smiling.

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KUNR's Jayden Perez adapted this story for the web.

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