Peoria attorney wakes up each morning grateful to be alive

Christopher McCall

Peoria attorney Christopher McCall is back at work after his bout with COVID, but he’s still dealing with long-term symptoms and said masks, vaccinations and social distancing are all critically important. (PHOTO BY DAVID ZALAZNIK)

Peoria attorney Christopher McCall looks back and calculates he must have contracted COVID around Election Day even though he has always strictly adhered to CDC guidelines.

He always wears a face mask, he practices social distancing (preferring 10 feet rather than 6 feet) and he frequently washes his hands and uses hand sanitizers. His wife is a nurse, so she understands the science behind these protocols. McCall’s office adheres to these same CDC guidelines.

He recalls exchanging court documents in early November. Everyone in the courtroom was required to wear a mask, yet sometime later a notification indicated one person in the courtroom subsequently tested positive for COVID.

There had also been a small family gathering but again, everyone was masked. The family later learned someone attending the gathering subsequently tested positive.

Those are the only two possible exposures McCall can remember. When his test came back positive, he immediately went into home quarantine. He didn’t even leave his room for meals, food was brought to him with no contact. He was exhausted, had chronic headaches, his blood pressure spiked and his eyes ached.

“It felt like someone was stepping on my eyes,” he said.

The worst, though, was going to bed at night and not knowing if he’d wake up. He’s read the accounts of people who tested positive, had mild symptoms, approached the 10-day end of isolation and suddenly took a dramatic turn for the worst and were hospitalized, put on a ventilator and died.

“Every day I woke up, I was grateful to be alive,” he said. “But within hours, people can be put on a ventilator and die.”

This erratic and little-understood aspect of COVID makes it terrifying for those who test positive.

McCall calls himself “a COVID survivor,” but more than three months after his diagnosis, McCall is still tired, struggles to complete what used to be his normal exercise routine and his eyes are so weak he’s forced to wear glasses all the time when formerly he had reading glasses and night driving glasses.

He’s dealing with the effects of “long term COVID” and is uncertain if he’ll ever be back to his pre-diagnosis health.

“I don’t need any convincing when the vaccination is available for me, I’ll get it,” he said. “To the vaccine skeptics, I say I would not wish this virus on anyone. It’s scary to wake up every day not knowing if your symptoms will be worse or if you will be on a ventilator by the end of the day.”

He is frustrated by people who defy the mask mandate.

“We all need to work together to stop the spread. We all need to follow the guidelines,” he said. “Within the African American community, COVID is spreading rapidly so we all need to take precautions. If anyone is still fearful of the vaccine, reach out to a doctor or public health official. Do not rely on social media or on people who are uneducated.”

Scientists are still baffled by long-term COVID symptoms that can cause chronic brain fog, severe exhaustion, fever, heart palpitations, muscle aches, nausea and general weakness. Some of the more severe long-term effects include inflammation of the heart, stroke, kidney damage, inability to focus and depression.

It is estimated almost 28 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, almost half a million have died, but there are no estimates of how many Americans are suffering from long-term COVID.

A study by the National Institute of Health linked COVID with blood vessel damage in the brain.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading spokesperson for COVID, said long-term COVID symptoms are going to be a significant public health issue.

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