The aftermath of COVID-19 for Briana Young

Briana Young
Briana Young is aware that 2021 will begin a continuous roller coaster for her.

Voices in Solidarity

The morning before the first snowstorm of 2020 rings colorless to Briana Young. The outside air chills through the bone smelling of icy petrichor. While many were preparing for the New Year, Briana Young was smiling on the phone, aware that 2021 will begin a continuous roller coaster for her.

The short-term memory of each day sometimes disintegrates. This is long term COVID-19

She sits down in her Middletown home. Every now and again she says she is out of breath. Multiple times, Young’s parents have had to scoop their unconscious daughter from the floor where she lays. She has awakened with blips of time erased from her memory. The short-term memory of each day sometimes disintegrates as the day disappears into night. This is called long term COVID-19.

“I wasn’t cleared until the end of September, and I got [COVID-19] middle of August… I was struggling in my bed,” says Young, frustrated for the sustained effects of the globally infamous virus.

“You scared the living s*** out of me,” said Young, quoting her mother, Lorraine Young. “I remember trying to wash your face for you and you said it hurt and you started crying in pain,” she said.

The 25-year-old behavioral therapist recounts the beginning of migraines Aug. 17, and her initial loss of taste and smell starting on Aug. 22. With symptoms carrying onward, doctors have since minimized them. “By then, I had already lost my taste, my smell, I couldn’t feel my legs, and then I was having a really hard time breathing, and I was coughing a lot” said Young.

“It was scary… You kept yelling at us to keep a mask on,” said Young, quoting her father.

As a behavioral therapist, Young works with young children in both schools and homes. Young traced her contraction of COVID-19 to the start of a new job when a family did not wear a mask. She was told she wasn’t to come back into the house until she had three consecutive negative tests. She came back with one negative test.

Young said she wasn’t able to quarantine any longer. The family’s demands would have left her out of work for three weeks. “I didn’t feel sick until I started working with that client,” said Young. There is no word on whether the family had any contact to the COVID-19 virus, but for Young the timeline checks out.

“Most people who have COVID-19 recover completely within a few weeks. But some people—even those who had mild versions of the disease—continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery,” said the Mayo Clinic’s staff in an article, “COVID-19 (coronavirus): Long-term effects.”

Those with long lasting symptoms may experience fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing, joint pain, and chest pain, muscle pain, headaches, memory, concentration, and sleep problems, said the same article. As for when these symptoms will end, it is not certain. “The long-term significance of these effects is not yet known,” said the Center for Disease Control.

The beginning of October is when Young recalls these long-term symptoms begining. A highly active, healthy person finally going back to the gym became difficult. “I don’t know anyone else going through it like I am,” said Young with a huff in her breath. She is thankful for her security and her privileges living with her parents, she said.

The COVID-19 survivor ponders on if her life were different. If she lived elsewhere with siblings to take care of, without health insurance to afford her the luxury of a doctor. However, what Young has been experiencing even more so is gaslighting by professionals, and she wonders the compounding of helplessness folks are feeling if their basic human necessities aren’t met.

co-workers do not believe COVID-19 is as serious a threat as Young is experiencing

Young’s mother believes she had COVID-19 last November into January. “She’s been back and forth between a bunch of doctors now. She was passing out multiple times a day, and she already has asthma,” said Young. Undergoing multitudes of tests, the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with Young’s mother and they sent her home, said Young.

“Maybe you just had a bad day,” said Young quoting the hospital doctors that cared for her mother back then. These words are similar to Young’s co-workers who do not believe COVID-19 is a threat, or at least not one as serious as Young is experiencing.

Young’s partner also had COVID-19, and also does not know how they got it. As Young contact traces, she questions a particular night out at a winery. Young’s partner experienced symptoms similar to that of the “average” person. “She was fine after six days,” said Young. The question is whether or not her partner contracted the virus from her, or the other way around.

To this day, Young is still struggling with “long-term COVID” and resumes life with this new and ever-changing virus.

Lana Leonard
Lana Leonard (they/them) is a graduate from The College of New Jersey with a degree in journalism and professional writing. They work at the GLAAD Media institute and freelance for publications like LGBTQ Nation while working on their journalistic theory of change project: Late Nights with Lana, a talk show based out of 10PRL film studios in Long Branch, NJ. Lana's mission, in all their work, is to focus on people, their collective truths and how those truths form a community of knowledge towards change.