Schizophrenia: Nearly Everyone is a “Long-Hauler”

The scariest thing about Covid-19, once you’ve been lucky enough to survive it, is a set of residual symptoms that are still being discovered. I’ve heard everything from “it’s a year later and I still can’t taste my food” to “I still get winded six months later and can barely walk up a flight of stairs” to stories of teeth suddenly and mysteriously falling out months after recovery.

We Need a Cure

People experiencing symptoms like these are called Covid long-haulers. There are Facebook pages and groups where stories and support are available.

But my son, Ben, and others like him? Schizophrenia long-haulers. This is the brain illness that just keeps on “giving” – challenges, changes, symptoms, side effects, loss.

This illness never quits. The residual symptoms sure do beat the active symptoms like psychosis and crisis, but they are still hard to bear.

Everyone is a long-hauler with this brain disease.

We need a cure.

My son is doing okay – actually better than expected – on Haldol now. This older antipsychotic frightens me, because side effects like tardive dyskinesia can be irreversible. Also, it is not known to work on the “negative” symptoms of schizophrenia (things the illness takes away from the person, like ability to feel joy). Still -it’s not too bad.

Some good news: (must mention, Ben no longer lives with us, so some of this may be due to the excellent staff at his group home, and a life less dependent upon our family role as landlords etc)

  • I can converse with him. Actual give-and-take conversation.
  • We have actually watched an entire movie together.
  • He eats my cooking again, after years of saying “smells great, I’ll have some tomorrow” (I think he had some sort of belief about my food that prevented him from ever taking a bite in those years).
  • He has also gone swimming again, and plays beautifully with his nieces and nephews. In fact, they have a relationship with “Uncle Ben” for the first time in years.
  • Haldol is available as an LAI (long-acting injectable) , so Ben isn’t faced with a daily decision as to whether he “needs” antipsychotic meds or not.

But, some of the sadder news:

  • I do see some trembling in his hands now. Would he ever be able to work as a waiter again, the job that kept him afloat before Covid closed restaurants?
  • He is suspicious of doctors, dentists and any medical testing. This is fairly new. He will not have his teeth cleaned.
  • When he isn’t hyper- focused on something I see the eyes darting around the room again, and wonder what he hears and/or sees. He will NOT talk about this, or admit to it.
  • He talks once again about unrealistic plans – like opening his own restaurant, becoming a college professor.

This illness never quits. The residual symptoms sure do beat the active symptoms like psychosis and crisis, but they are still hard to bear.

Everyone is a long-hauler with this brain disease.

We need a cure.

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