Written Story by Mohamad Kasim

I am now 53 years old, and I am still working. I am Rohingya from Burma and have been living  in the United States for eight years, having migrated through Malaysia as a refugee. I have a  loving family, including a son. Four years ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes, which has been a  constant concern in my life. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, starting from around April 2019, I faced a challenging time. I  couldn’t work for six months due to business closures, leaving me without any income. The  financial strain and uncertainty caused me to experience a deep sense of depression. Sadly, I  couldn’t seek help from friends and relatives as they were also facing similar struggles. 

When I was finally able to resume work towards the end of 2019, the COVID-19 precautions  made it incredibly difficult. Wearing masks, maintaining distance from others, and following  numerous safety measures made every working day a challenge. Despite the difficulties, I  persevered. 

However, in November 2020, I contracted COVID-19. The symptoms were unpleasant, including  a running nose, body aches, muscle pain, and fatigue. I immediately went to the hospital to get  tested, and the result came back positive. I had to isolate at home for two weeks, separated  from my wife and son. Doctors advised me to take Panadol for symptomatic relief and  recommended a nutritious diet to support my recovery. My wife took on the responsibility of  caring for me, despite battling a non-COVID illness herself. 

During my home stay, hospitals from Oregon provided us with utensils, plates, and personal  hygiene materials to ensure our safety and minimize the risk of transmission within the  household. With time, I managed to recover from COVID-19 without significant complications,  although I did notice some issues with memory loss, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating,  possibly due to the lingering effects of the illness. 

In June 2021, another health challenge struck me. I experienced severe chest pain and rushed  to the emergency room, where I was diagnosed with a heart attack and myocardial infarction.  The hospitalization lasted for four days, and I wondered if this could be a complication of  COVID-19. It made me regret not having a thorough medical check-up one month after  recovering from the virus. Prior to the heart attack, I had received one dose of the COVID-19  vaccine, which made me doubt whether it was a factor in the cardiac event. However, my wife  suggested completing the full vaccination course, and I followed her advice, hoping it would  provide some protection for the future. 

Now, in 2023, the burden of debt from the financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic  still weighs heavily on me. I owe money to relatives who are financially well-off, and I am  determined to repay them. The mental strain and breakdown I experienced during that time  continue to affect me, along with the persisting issue of forgetful memory.

It has been a challenging journey, but I remain resilient, hopeful, and determined to overcome  the obstacles that come my way. I cherish the love and support of my family, and I strive to  create a better future for them despite the hardships we have faced.