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Student Pharmacist

Written by student pharmacists for student pharmacists, Student Pharmacist magazine provides the latest on career preparation, leadership, legislative activities and advocacy efforts, patient care projects, APhA–ASP Chapter innovations, life on rotation, tips from new practitioners, and more.

A personal COVID-19 story
Cara Young

A personal COVID-19 story

LIFE

Emily Hall is a third-year PharmD candidate at the Purdue University College of Pharmacy.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, my dad was admitted to Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. At the time, there had been only one COVID-19 related death in the state of Illinois. Yet I worried that my previous phone call with him—when he could not speak for more than a few moments before spiraling into a traumatizing coughing fit—might be my last. I tried to understand how someone in the picture of health could so easily, and quickly, become almost reliant on a ventilator to stay alive.

Coping with an uncertain prognosis

As a student pharmacist, I immediately wanted to know my dad’s symptoms, oxygen levels, and medications. My mind was focused on the data, while trying to cope with the uncertainty related to my dad’s prognosis. I wanted, needed to help. I spent hours poring through PubMed and Lexicomp looking for information that simply did not exist yet. Thankfully, my dad was released 7 days later.

Unfortunately, more than a year later, my dad and I are in a similar situation. Although he is no longer acutely sick, he is still managing the effects of his COVID-19 infection every single day, and I still do not have the answers he requires. Since his initial COVID-19 infection, my dad has been living with shortness of breath, brain fog, and freezing extremities associated with the feeling of pins and needles. It is stated that 1 in 10 persons infected with COVID-19 will develop these long-term symptoms. While science and medicine have learned much about COVID-19, data on the long-term effects for survivors are limited.

Even though I can understand some of the pathophysiology of these long-term symptoms, I have yet to find the evidence and information needed to help my dad return to his previous state of health. It is difficult being a future health care provider without the ability to care for someone I love.

Hope for the future

This past year has been one of the most challenging of my life. I have felt hopeless and scared. Living through the pandemic and having been directly impacted by the COVID-19 virus has left my family and me with trauma. With so many people in the United States experiencing long-term symptoms like my dad's, my generation of health care providers will be responsible for caring for patients like him with understanding, empathy, and hopefully one day, evidence-based treatment. 

This experience has allowed me to understand my purpose as a future pharmacist: To have a positive impact on the lives of my patients and their loved ones.

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