The husband of the late Dawson’s Creek writer who died by suicide after a battle with long COVID-19 has opened up about her ‘terrifying deterioration,’ saying she was unable to walk, eat, or even urinate without pain leading up to her death.
Heidi Ferrer, a television and film screenwriter, killed herself at age 50 last May at her home in Los Angeles, California, after struggling with a range of debilitating symptoms for 13 months.
In a heart-wrenching op-ed published by The Guardian, her husband Nick Guthe pleaded with the medical community to find answers for those suffering from long-haul COVID over fears the mysterious condition will lead to more suicides.
Heidi Ferrer, a television and film screenwriter, killed herself at age 50 last May at her home in Los Angeles, California, after a 13-month battle with long COVID
In a heart-wrenching op-ed for The Guardian, her husband Nick Guthe (far right) pleaded with the medical community to find answers for those suffering from the mysterious condition
‘Long COVID took her from one of the healthiest, most vibrant people I’ve ever known to a person so debilitated that she could not bear another day on this planet,’ he wrote.
Guthe described Ferrer as being the picture of health before she contracted the virus in April 2020, noting she was ‘an avid 90-minute-a-day walker, ate only organic (and mostly vegan) food, and hadn’t had an alcoholic drink in three and half years’ following a decade-long battle with alcoholism.
What started as a ‘mostly asymptomatic coronavirus infection,’ according to her husband, escalated to fatigue, flu-like symptoms, brain fog, and body aches, including severe pains in her feet and ankles.
He added that she also suffered from ongoing gastrointestinal issues, swollen toes, and a ‘host of other ailments.’
‘Within six weeks of noticing “COVID toes” and some gastrointestinal issues she could barely walk from excruciating nerve pain in her feet so extreme as to mimic advanced diabetic neuropathy,’ he wrote.
Guthe described Ferrer (pictured in 2008) as being healthy before she contracted the virus in April 2020, saying she walked 90 minutes a date and kept a mostly vegan diet
Ferrer (pictured with Stephen Jarchow, Paris Hilton, Christine Lakin, and Johann Urb in 2008) penned episodes of Dawson’s Creek and Wasteland, as well as several films
Guthe explained that Ferrer was robbed of ‘every part of her life that made it worth living,’ saying she became immobile, lost her ability to eat, and was unable to read because the brain frog prohibited her from retaining information.
Sex and urination also became painful for her.
‘All of this — with no hope on the horizon of any cure let alone acknowledgment from the medical world — brought her to the place where she asked me that, if something happened to her, I would tell the world what long COVID is,’ he recalled.
‘I made this promise never thinking I would actually have to act on it — never imagining that only three weeks later I would come home to find that she had decided death was preferable to another minute in her own personal hell.
‘Watching long COVID systematically take her apart, organ system by organ system, was the most terrifying deterioration of a human being I have ever witnessed.’
Guthe shared that three weeks before his wife killed herself, they feared she was going to die of a stroke or heart attack because her heart would race out of control.
For over a year, the mother of one suffered from unexplained gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, brain fog, body aches, and severe nerve pain that left her immobile
Both sex and urination became painful for her, and she was unable to read because the brain frog prohibited her from retaining information
Guthe shared that three weeks before she killed herself, they feared she would die of a stroke or heart attack because her heart would race out of control
He recounted how their 13-year-old son waited outside for paramedics on the day Ferrer took her life while he ‘tried desperately to revive her.’ She was declared brain dead upon arrival at the hospital.
Guthe said the emergency room doctor had assumed Ferrer had been depressed and didn’t know what long COVID was when he tried to explain what had driven his wife to suicide.
He remembered her being ‘the most dedicated mother you ever met’ and ‘sunshine in a dress,’ saying neither he nor his son ‘will ever be the same.’
The father concluded his essay with a call to the medical world to take long COVID and its sufferers seriously.
‘I am not trying to be an alarmist, but we are in a true crisis. The global medical community must band together to find answers for those suffering,’ he wrote. ‘They are all Heidi and they are running out of time and hope.’
Ferrer was a career scriptwriter who penned several episodes of the hit ’90s shows Dawson’s Creek and Wasteland, as well as several films. In recent years, she became an avid and well-known blogger.
Guthe remembered Ferrer (pictured three months before her death) as being ‘the most dedicated mother you ever met’ and ‘sunshine in a dress’
Guthe, who is a screenwriter, director, and producer, revealed news of her death on social media following the 13-month battle
In a heartbreaking blog post that she penned in September 2020, titled ‘How I’m recovering from long haul COVID,’ she detailed how the virus had crippled her but declared that ‘COVID won’t win.’
‘The monster is real and it came for me. Recovering from COVID-19 has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through and I’ve been through a lot,’ she wrote.
‘In my darkest moments, I told my husband that if I didn’t get better, I did not want to live like this. I wasn’t suicidal, I just couldn’t see any quality of life long term and there was no end in sight.
‘One of the cruelest things COVID did to me was to take away my ability to have dreams. I don’t mean dreams in my sleep, I mean I completely stopped dreaming about my future because I couldn’t picture it. It was a wall.
‘Yes, everyone had lost our trips, our events, our free lives during the shutdown, but I had lost all of that and also became suddenly crippled with scary neurological programs.’
Guthe, who is a screenwriter, director, and producer, revealed news of her death on social media following the 13-month battle.
‘She fought it like she lived, ferociously, but in the end it was relentless and took away everything from her,’ he wrote in a Facebook post.
For confidential support call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255