By Kristina Tehrani copyright July 27, 2021
I had this really smart, really funny, kind, well rounded friend who was a paid writer for a national publication. A paid writer! He did book reviews! He was also a recovering meth addict.
He had been sober for a few years. Was in a masters program for writing. He was already kind of vulnerable before the pandemic- he had lost his partner to suicide a few years prior and had relapsed after that. BUT he got clean again. However, he was still in mourning and single when the isolation in MN started. And lasted for many many months.
He and I would talk almost every day. We talked politics, philosophy, we would joke about things, we watched shows “together” but separately and discuss them. Mostly philosophical shows. I sold him on Medici: Masters of Florence as there were several gay characters- just historical reality- so he watched it.
A few months into the isolation, I noticed he was starting to unravel and become less and less coherent. I kept saying “you know I won’t judge you, you can tell me anything, it doesn’t matter to me” because something was obviously wrong.
Finally, I get a call from him and he’s panicking because his mother is “abducting him” and he’s worried that she has dementia. I asked to speak to his mom. He said no and hung up.
Later on, his mother called me and explained that he had completely relapsed on his drug of choice. He hadn’t been sleeping, he was depressed, and she was worried sick. He was behaving as if he had a death wish. She caught him prostituting himself for drugs.
I asked “how can I help? He won’t talk to me about any of this stuff”. She said she wasn’t sure but that she needed to get him into a long term rehab as the standard 30 days just wasn’t enough. I supported that- I mean, he’s my friend but I want him alive! I tried calling him several times following this incident. He didn’t answer. I have no idea what happened to him.
Kind of goes to show how lockdowns are harmful. Not just to people already suffering from some form of anxiety or depression, but to people previously healthy. And not just psychologically. So many of us are behind on preventative care, regular check ups, dental care, physicals. This is starting to improve but we are still seeing the fallout from people who had some medical condition or were at risk of something and not being seen for over a year- I’m having this problem too.
For over a year, I couldn’t get a pap. And I have to stay on top of that as I have a history of cervical cancer. I had surgery for it 20 years ago and it’s not come back full force. BUT I have finally scheduled a long overdue test, which may become a biopsy and I had an incident of hemorrhaging about a month ago to the point where I was confused, tired, weak. I had lost a lot of blood.
Even now- everyone has to go to appointments alone- well what if you don’t have a babysitter? That’s a barrier to care. What if you can’t wear a mask? Some people really can’t breathe with those on. Some people have anxiety attacks with those on. So those people just don’t get care?
I have an appointment in two days which may include surgery. The doc I saw- same one who did my surgery 20 years ago ironically- said “we’ll start with an ultrasound and pap, maybe biopsy and go from there but if I see anything, I’m taking it out”. I’m terrified.
I worry because I looked into the causes of hemorrhage and the solutions and many of them involve some form of hysterectomy. I really am not prepared to go into early menopause. Not at all.
I am lucky though that I reconnected with this doctor because my trust in medicine- because of my medical background- has plummeted during this politicization of healthcare and science. I trust her more than a stranger- but what about all the people who don’t have a provider they trust?
My point is, we’re still feeling the backlash of the lockdowns and I have opined that it’s increased everyone’s morbidity and probably shortened lives. We look at all the people we’ve lost to the virus, but also the people we’ve lost to drugs and alcohol, to suicide, to depression, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The best way to prevent serious illness is preventative care. As a state, we went completely without that for over a year. Some are still struggling to get in. The deaths will continue and they’re not from the virus- they’re from a lack of preventative care.