Frontline workers, like Jeramie, dedicated their lives in service to others and got sick early in the pandemic. Some are still stuck in the abyss between accepted outcomes, death and recovery. During the pandemic, Jeramie, a correctional officer, ended up working in COVID positive housing units when he was mandated to third shift. He, like many, was deemed as a close contact at work the weekend before he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
In November of 2020, Jeramie contracted COVID-19 while working as an essential employee. It is now a month away from being 2 years since Jeramie contracted this virus and he is still suffering from the long-term effects. He is considered a COVID long-hauler. Due to his dedication to his job (awarded with Officer of the year 2019) and the to the public, He may no longer be able to perform his duties again.
The past two years of his life has been packed full of appointments and ER visits. Healthcare providers are diligently trying to improve his health condition—including visits to Spectrum Health’s COVID clinic and Mary Free Bed outpatient rehabilitation services. Most of these appointments are located in Grand Rapids, approximately an hour away. Jeramie’s healing process has been lengthy, to say the least, and the prognosis is still unknown. The doctors continue to tell him, “this will take time and be patient.”
He has been unable to return to work due to the damage COVID has caused. Jeramie told me, “it was like a cancer that spread extremely fast.” In addition, the length of time away from his position, he has been forced to apply for an early medical retirement from his employer (which doesn’t mean they have to approve it). Adding insult to injury, he is ineligible for unemployment benefits because of his sustained disabilities. Resources for him are slowly getting depleted.
He is good friend, brother, son, uncle, cousin, nephew, and coworker. He needs help covering outstanding and ongoing medical bills along with the continual transportation costs. Through this process he has easily spent over $20k for copays, multiple ER visits, tests, cobra insurance, fuel to and from appointments, OTC/prescription meds, therapy fees, fees for acupuncture, herbal supplements and additional out of pocket costs insurance doesn’t cover.
His COVID long-haul symptoms include headaches, concentration issues, debilitating cognitive dysfunction (brain fog), speech issues, short term memory loss, tremors, joint pain, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (rashes), muscle aches and pains, vision issues, sensitivity to light and sound, tinnitus, dizziness, heart palpitations, low SpO2 numbers, nightmares, night sweats, anxiety, depression, inability to properly regulate body temperature, and continual stress. The long haul clinic has stated, “you are dealing with Myalgic/Encephalomyelitis -neuro-immune illness and is marked by Post Exertional Malaise” which has also been referred to as a “living death”. This is a type of metabolic dysfunction in which any type of exertion (mental or physical) brings on new or worsening symptoms 12-48 after activity. Long COVID has also increased the sensitivity on his nerve endings, to where he felt awful in his joints and electrical shocks throughout his body. EMG/nerve conduction testing has led to a rediscovery of a cervical spine issue related to an old work injury which never healed properly—which he is now also receiving treatments for.
Most recently (August 2022) his COVID complications caused him to suffer three falls in two month’s time. These falls have created several severe injuries: two separate hematomas, both lungs partially collapsed, a separated shoulder (grade 3) seven fractured ribs, a contusion on his left lung, and a partial tear in the rotator cuff and labrum. He has had several visits to specialists where they are trying to determine if surgery will be necessary. He begins physical therapy for his injuries this month (October 2022) in hopes for improvements to avoid surgery.
The road to recovery has been long and arduous to say the least. He still has a rough road ahead, but he is a strong-willed individual with a heart of gold. If you can help out in any way your generosity will be greatly appreciated through monetary donations, sharing this gofundme link, and prayers. Jeramie needs our support.
Thank you in advance.
Organizer and beneficiary
Grand Rapids, MI