On the morning that Broadway shut down in March 2020, Joel Fram woke up feeling like a steamroller had rolled over him on its way somewhere else. He had a high fever, which evolved into a terrible sore throat and trouble breathing. Like countless other New Yorkers, Mr. Fram, the conductor of the Broadway show “Company,” had gotten Covid-19 in the city’s crushing first wave.
Two years later, he is still recovering.
His initial symptoms faded after a few weeks but then returned in the familiar constellation we now know as long Covid. Fatigue so deep that he would fall asleep during a conversation. Shortness of breath. A constant, painful migraine behind his eye.
“It felt like I was in a box all by myself,” he said. “The world was in monochrome, when for everyone else, even though we were in the middle of a pandemic, it seemed to be in Technicolor.”
As cases of Covid plunge in New York and around the country, and states lift mask mandates, people are eager for any news that the pandemic may soon be over. But for those with long Covid — it afflicts as many as 30 percent of those who caught the coronavirus — the fight often goes on.
Mr. Fram, even at 54, was used to having boundless energy. He could go to lunch, conduct a high-energy show like “Wicked,” do a Zoom call with his mother, bake a cake, wake up the next morning and do it again, a friend said.
Suddenly, he couldn’t do a fraction of the things he would normally do. At home during the long Broadway shutdown, his anxiety grew.
“There was a period of time where all I could think about was long Covid,” he said during one of many interviews over the past few months about how he finally became well enough to return for his Broadway show’s reopening last November. His story illustrates how determined — and fortunate — sufferers have to be to find the right care.
“Would it be chronic?” he wondered. “Would I have to give up my conducting career?” He started obsessing over the unfairness of it all. “If I wasn’t thinking of that, I was just thinking about how lucky other people are and how I wasn’t included in that category.”