It Was the 'Most Terrifying Deterioration of a Human'

Nick Güthe writes of wife Heidi Ferrer's suicide after suffering from long COVID
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2022 12:00 PM CST
My Wife Had Long COVID, Was 'Canary in the Coalmine'
   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – In May 2021, screenwriter Heidi Ferrer took her own life after a 13-month battle with long COVID. Her husband Nick Güthe says her symptoms were vicious, among them internal chest cavity vibrations so extreme she was unable to sleep. She finally came to her husband with a request: Were something to happen to her, would he publicize long COVID and the hell it can unleash? "I made this promise never thinking I would actually have to act on it" just three weeks later, he writes in the Guardian. He explains that his wife was a survivor who had, more than three years prior, overcome a decade-long battle with alcoholism. She maintained a healthy lifestyle beyond that, with 90 minutes of walking a day and a mostly vegan organic diet.

"Watching long COVID systematically take her apart, organ system by organ system, was the most terrifying deterioration of a human being I have ever witnessed," Güthe writes. First came some gastrointestinal issues and "COVID toes." Less than two months later, the nerve pain in her feet prevented her from walking. She lost her ability to eat, and functions like urinating became pain-inducing. He writes that he kept his promise after her death, and that the outpouring of messages he has received aren't just ones of sympathy, but commiseration. Other long COVID sufferers "were in horrible pain yet felt gaslit by their doctors. They described the same tremors and vibrations that tortured Heidi. As with Heidi, no one believed them. My girl was the canary in the coalmine." (Read the full piece.)

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