Dani Loewenstein has guided tourist through some of the region’s biggest mountains – and it’s his connection to community surely fueling local financial support as he battles complications from COVID-19.
Known as long-haulers, researchers have been focussed on understanding the longterm impacts some are dealing with after they’ve fully recovered from the novel coronavirus.
What initially presented as a heavy flu turned into over a year of a rollercoaster of debilitating symptoms that have left him Loewenstein with brain, heart, lung and nervous system injuries, with Loewenstein saying that he is experiencing upwards of 30 different complications.
His symptoms have kept him out of work since March of last year, when he first got sick, and it continues to effect his day-to-day life.
“It’s prevented me from being able to take part in my family life, to even help out with just daily chores,” said Loewenstein.
“You’re just in bed. You can be vertical, but it’s difficult to even walk at times.”
Connection with family and friends is what he’s missing the most. But despite his challenges, Loewenstein considers himself lucky.
“I’m lucky enough that at my sickest, I’ve been able to feed myself and maintian hygiene. It’s a spectrum of long-haul COVID patients and there’s some people who can’t take care of themselves on a day-to-day basis, so I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said.
After researching available treatments and different approaches to treating post viral illness and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a friend and fellow long hauler discovered the Hoffman Centre for Integrative and Functional Medicine in Calgary, which has been treating complex medical conditions for decades.
Loewenstein then sought treatment there as he believed that the longer he held inflammation in his body from his long-haul condition, the more likely he would suffer permanent damage.
Since April 19, Loewenstein has been undergoing extensive testing and diagnostics at the Hoffman Centre, where he was found to have Mast Cell Activiation Syndrome, mitochondrial dysfunction, pericarditis, costochondritis, brain inflammation and vagus nerve/nervous system dysfunction– the latter of which has affected his vision and led to a learning disability.
More than $64,000 has been raised to date in a GoFundMe to help cover the medical costs for Loewenstein, after being launched by Kristi Easton.
However, through his treatment over the last few weeks, Loewenstein says he’s started to notice a difference, with an increasing ability to handle stimulus and increased energy and mental clarity.
“I’m very, very fortunate to have the Hoffman Centre. About a week after I started I was feeling better than I have in over a year,” said Lowenstein.
It is expected that the treatment will total anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000.
A tribute to his improvement, Lowenstein was able to take part in a camping trip just last week for the first time since he fell ill over a year ago.
“To spend that period of time not being able to connect to nature or with your family is really hard. Going out there, that was like freedom, you know?”
Lowenstein says he’s thankful for the community support he’s received throughout his journey, inspiring him to focus on helping others.
“A huge shoutout to our Golden frontline workers as well, both medical and otherwise, that have had to keep themselves safe through all of this and stay diligent.”
Lowenstein says he hopes his story can be cautionary to those who are not careful. “When people do their risk assessment, they’re just looking at the chance of death, the actual higher likelihood of a bad outcome and becoming a long-hauler is more prevalent than you might think.”