Coronavirus Chronicles — COVID-19 and Careers

Not long ago, in India, screen star Rubina Dilaik began to receive hate mail for gaining around seven kilos, which amounts to, for heaven’s sake, only about 15 pounds. Plus, she had a good reason — she had recovered from COVID-19 and decided to treat her body gently for a while. But rather than express gratitude that the actress’s life had been spared, some of her alleged fans got all blamey and judgy. Via social media, she replied, in part…

You are relentlessly sending hate mails and messages , you don’t see my worth… you are threatening to leave fandoms coz I am fat now… Well , I am indeed disappointed that, FOR YOU, my physical appearance is far more important than my talent and my commitment to my work…

Long covid is destroying careers…,” read a Washington Post headline last month, as journalist Christopher Rowland published a detailed profile of long-haul COVID patient Tiffany Patino, who had been ill for a year. She, her boyfriend, and their 14-month-old child had been living rent-free in a relative’s basement, saving up for their own place, and maybe even for a better car. But now, at age 28, she finds a walk to the playground unbelievably taxing, and going back to work is a distant dream. The reporter describes her as “exhausted, racked with pain, short of breath, forgetful, bloated, swollen, depressed.”

Rowland’s research showed that many Americans have what can fairly be called long-haul COVID, with a percentage of the victims “experiencing such unbearable fatigue and other maladies that they can’t work, forcing them to drop out of the workforce, abandon careers and rack up huge debts.” As Patino said, “My world shattered, and everything just came crumbling down.”

Help is not easily available to these victims of a “newly emerging chronic disease that has no established diagnostic or treatment plan.” If they were not already suffering from the general pandemic conditions, coming down with the disease, and being unable to shake off its effects, has definitely brought depression and anxiety into their lives. Rowland writes,

Insurers are denying coverage for some tests, the public disability system is hesitant to approve many claims, and even people with long-term disability insurance say they are struggling to get benefits. Often referred to as “long haulers,” they experience mild symptoms to begin with, then get stuck with months of chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, confusion and memory loss, erratic and racing heartbeats, radical spikes in blood pressure, painful rashes, shooting pains, and gastrointestinal problems.

The symptoms sometimes subside, lulling long haulers into a false sense of relief, only to come roaring back after performing simple chores like vacuuming a living room or raking leaves.

The victims are not just people with low-income service jobs. Rowland interviewed 64-year-old emergency medicine physician John Buccellato, who rapidly went from treating patients in Manhattan to experiencing profound disability and helplessness. He told the reporter that not only had the virus had taken his career, but he could no longer pay to park his car in a garage, or even keep up his medical insurance. This is what happened to the doctor:

A lawyer helped him file a disability claim with the Social Security Administration, which a member of his support team said was recently successful. Because he left work for medical reasons, he was not eligible for unemployment insurance.

Rowland interviewed a Baltimore teacher who “has blown through $12,000 in savings and is on food stamps.” She too was planning to apply for disability. But both the government and private insurers have been slow on the uptake, says the reporter:

[M]any patients applying for disability insurance benefits are initially denied and require lengthy appeals, according to patients, doctors and lawyers, in part because the medical community is still grappling with how to diagnose their symptoms.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Rubina Dilaik trolled for gaining weight,”, 11/24/21
Source: “Long covid is destroying careers, leaving economic distress in its wake,”, 12/09/21
Image by Michael 1952/CC BY 2.0

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources