The first time Angela Doescher tested positive for COVID-19 was March 2020, back when a vaccine was merely a hope on the horizon. The Bend resident was sick for seven months, and to this day suffers long-haul symptoms. She tested positive a second time in July 2021, after being vaccinated, and felt better just two days later. Angela says that’s the difference between being vaccinated and not. It’s also what’s helping protect her son, Stryder, from the virus.
Stryder, 14, has multiple rare disabilities, and even a mild illness can land him in the hospital.
He has a rare form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a hereditary connective tissue disorder, plus epilepsy, and he wears a port to deliver medicine to his heart. But while the medicine helps keep the “happy-go-lucky” teen healthy, infected particles (ie: viruses) can stick to the line to his port, which can lead to a blood infection. Angela and Stryder take no chances with his health.
“He ended up in the hospital twice last year,” Angela said, explaining how Stryder came down with rotavirus, sepsis, then a bacterial infection of the colon called C. diff (clostridioides difficile) at the same time. “I know if he gets COVID he’ll very likely end up with a blood infection because of the way the line to his port works. It’s scary.”
Angela was among the first in Deschutes County to be vaccinated, and Stryder among the first in his age group once he became eligible. “He was very happy to get the vaccine,” Angela said. “I made sure to ask him. He saw just how sick I was. I’m very proud of him.”
It’s a small miracle that Stryder has managed to stay COVID-19-free. When Angela tested positive the second time, they, along with Stryder’s sister, Kasia, were all staying in a tiny motel room in Newport. And even though Angela recovered quickly, she spiked a fever of 104.9 that sent her to the local hospital. She and the doctor cried together because she was the first patient he’d seen who’d been infected twice. Still, two days later, Angela knew she’d be OK, and Stryder and Kasia, who was pregnant at the time, remained healthy.
As a person with long COVID-19 symptoms, Angela requires supplemental oxygen at times. She overheats, and her blood pressure is too high. She has developed asthma and sleep apnea, and has also been diagnosed with widespread autonomic failure – a degenerative nervous system disorder. She had none of these problems before she tested positive for COVID-19, and she credits the vaccine for sparing her children a similar fate.
“I spray and wipe everything down, but a lot of the reason they didn’t get sick is the vaccine. I know that,” said Angela. “I used to not have any medical problems, and now I’m high risk. I will get every booster and so will Stryder. It’s the only thing that’s going to keep him out of the hospital.”