EDITORIAL: Never forget the stories of the COVID-19 pandemic

Dad. Artist. Musician. Positivity. Hockey Lover. Support LGBTQ+. You can make a difference. Change the world.

This is how Colorado’s Liam Armstrong described himself on Twitter when he signed up to use the social media modality in October of last year. Sharing positivity and embracing the power of one- one act, one encouraging word, one act of selflessness as a calling card. “Everyone of us can do something every day to change the world.”

About the same time he first logged on to share his thoughts and emotions 280 characters at a time, Armstrong was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I felt like I was dying. I couldn’t breathe. I was coughing so hard I was vomiting, I felt like every nerve in my body was screaming, my joints ached, my head hurt, the fever made me dizzy and almost delusional. It was a state of complete misery. If I hadn’t had people to talk to I might not have made it,” Armstrong tweeted in mid-February.

After the worst passed, Armstong still had a horrible cough and the occasional spike in fever. This too faded but he kept getting sick. A flu put Liam back at square one. “This virus destroys your strength and immune system. It leaves you vulnerable and weakened. This whole thing to this point had lasted from October until January. Still weak but feeling a bit better, I was hopeful. Then, the headaches started. At first just a regular. Constant ache then progressing into a migraine level headache. It wouldn’t go away. No matter what I did. I went to my doctor and had scans done and discovered that I had inflammation and swelling in the blood vessels surrounding my brain. I was out on antibiotics and steroids, as well as pain killers. This helped a little,but the pain was still there. Then, I started vomiting and I fell due to dizziness. Back to the doctor, more scans and tests. I had two small aneurysms in my head. Not bad enough to kill me or cause a stroke, but…”

Four months after initially contracting COVID, Armstrong appeared on the mend.

“I am begging all of you. Wear your masks, wash your hands, limit your exposure, don’t leave your home unless you have to, and if you do, stay away from others. The social isolation sucks, but we have to do this. Social isolation is nothing compared to the loss of a loved one or dying yourself. You have people who love you and you have people you love,” Armstrong said. “Remember this and keep safe. Don’t let complacency make you lac in protecting yourself and those you care about. Thank you for listening Also, just so everyone knows. I was diligent about wearing my mask. I washed my hands, I used sanitizer. I kept at least six feet between me and others. So I must have slipped up somewhere, handling money or something. Be super aware.” Subsequent entries indicated life was getting back to normal for Liam.

On March 12, Armstrong shared his first attempt at getting back in the studio. “Just a sketch so far, blocking things in. Please be kind. I haven’t been able to do anything for months thanks to COVID. I just want to show that there is beauty in everything, even darkness.”

March 22- Goodnight Twitter! Hope you all have an amazing night. Sleep well. Wake ready to change the world.

March 28- Hey everyone! Update time: so I am still fighting the vasculitis in my head and neck from covid. The doctor is frustrated because nothing that normally works with vasculitis seems to be working but I’m feeling better today. I have another scan tomorrow so fingers crossed

March 29- Well everyone,I’m headed to the neurologist to get another scan and see what, if anything, has occurred with the new treatment. Wish me luck. I’m nervous about this one for some reason….

May 8- This is Liam’s son. I regret to inform you all that my dad has passed away. I know he loved being a part of Twitter and he loved all of his friends on here. Please be safe. COVID is a horrible thing.

A COVID Longhauler, Liam Armstrong’s journey is shared to remind readers the seriousness of the coronavirus but also that sunny days can be here soon if we remain vigilant. Judging by his body of inspirational work on the twittersphere, that’s what he would want for the citizens of the world. Along with a myriad of other human qualities, the COVID-19 Pandemic has sapped our collective resolve to see this thing through to the end.

To honour him and the millions around the world who have died of COVID-19, let’s pledge as a community to collectively finish the pandemic strong. Mask up, wash our hands, social distance, get a vaccination when it’s available and let us never forget these uncertain times we faced together nor the stories borne of them.

-Jason Parks

PICTURING OUR COMMUNITY

HAPPENING AT THE HUB – Executive Director of The Hub Child and Family Centre Susan Quaiff accepts a cheque for $750 from Picton Rotarians Don Wakefield, Joanne Coker and John Clarke. The funds will allow The Hub to assemble and distribute fresh fruit and vegetable boxes as well as baby boxes for client families. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)