The invisible effects of COVID-19: Ly’s story

Ly Lam in the mountains

Diligent and responsible. Both of these words describe Ly Lam’s behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic, and though he followed necessary precautions, Ly tested positive for the virus in December 2020. Although the visible symptoms didn’t get the best of him, it was the invisible symptoms that played a bigger role in Ly’s battle than expected. 

“To this day, I’m not sure where I contracted the virus. I was in disbelief when I got the results, my heart sank and my thoughts started going down a rabbit hole of ‘what if’ scenarios – the worst of them,” says Ly, Advisor, Payroll at Suncor.

Having vulnerable members in the house was immediately his biggest concern. “My two young daughters and my in-laws, who are over 65, live with us. My worst nightmare was unfolding in front of me,” he explains. “Thankfully, everyone else came back with negative results.” 

Normally a very social and positive person, Ly found this time isolated from his family and the world especially tough. “My physical symptoms were manageable, some chest pain and tiredness. But for the most part, I was doing fine, at one point I even did some at-home workouts to keep distracted and my body moving,” says Ly. “My mental state, however, took a toll.” 

“I felt so isolated and alone, my thoughts were consumed with the unknown factors that could play out with this virus and every day felt like Groundhog Day. I tried to have a positive outlook and thought about my family. It really got me through.” 

Although conversations around mental health have grown since the beginning of the pandemic, it can still be overlooked, as it’s not something people can see or easily empathize with like a visible physical symptom. “Don’t give up; there are so many resources available to help you get through this time,” says Ly. “I made sure to FaceTime to my family and friends every day and did things that got my mind off the situation, like numbing my brain with some math teasers!”  

One thing Ly did take away from his COVID-19 experience is gratitude. 

“If there’s a positive thing to come out of this, it’s the gratitude I now hold for little things around me and my loved ones. It’s so easy to take everything for granted until it’s taken from you – I’m much more grateful for everything in my life,” he says. 

As the vaccine rollout begins, Ly communicates his eagerness for when that day comes for him, “I plan on getting the COVID-19 vaccine; if there’s anything I can do to protect my loved ones and those around me, then I’ll do it.”