Features

Long-Covid: How the virus lives on…

CRAIG STRACHAN

The fatigue was immobilising…

My experiences with Long-Covid can best be described as (to state the obvious) a real drawn-out affair. I was back home for Christmas; I had a negative test before I came back, and I didn’t socialise with my friends. But there was a small outbreak at our local Tesco’s which is where I suspect I caught Covid. I first developed symptoms on Christmas Eve, which is a real kick in the teeth when you realise half the table couldn’t taste the Christmas dinner.

After that, me, my dad, mum and grandmother who was living with us soon realised we’d been hit with it quite strongly. Sadly, my
grandmother passed away from Covid-related pneumonia on the 10th of January. It wasn’t until the 20th of that month that I had the strength to do even a thirty-minute walk. Almost a month after I first had symptoms. In short, that sums my experiences up with this virus. I was just so tired. But it
was this shallow constant tiredness that stayed with me for months and months.

The fatigue was immobilising at times. I remember shortly after new year, me and my parents were taking down the Christmas decorations. I must’ve only taken down maybe three or four ornaments before I was done, literally sat on the sofa out of breath, feeling so weak. I ended up going back to bed – I just couldn’t hack it and that was infuriating.

And until mid-March that fatigue was a leech. You slowly start thinking you are recovering; you might have good days or weeks but then out
of the blue it all piles on top of you again leaving you just shattered.
Personally, I’ve also had a lot of piercing chest pains over the months. This doesn’t happen to everyone; all experiences are different. Just every now and again you feel like you’re getting lightly stabbed and it is truly bizarre how normalised that is to me now.

That probably is the experience that underpins every experience of Long Covid. I probably still felt them for four and a half months after I first showed symptoms. For some it is shorter, for many it’s longer. But everyone has to get far too used to their bodies operating at half capacity. Which is infuriating, being forced to be half a step behind everyone else without any control of it.

Mentally, it’s like a roadblock. Long-Covid reminds you constantly of every trauma and every bad day you’ve had at the hands of this terrible, terrible virus. It draws out your struggles, and I’d thoroughly recommend anyone suffering with it to seek mental health guidance along with any physical
rehabilitation.

RUBIE BARKER

All I can do is learn to manage it…

It was as the pandemic really took hold last March that I fell ill. High fever, aching all over my body and unable to move out of bed. My dad had to come and pick me up from Cardiff, I couldn’t have looked after myself and I pretty much spent the next week in bed, drifting in and out of sleep.

I remember in the weeks leading up to the first lockdown, there was a general feeling that young people if they caught the virus, they could easily survive it. It was so unlikely they would fall ill and yet there I was, barely able to stay awake in my own bed and struggling to move. After the worst of the illness was over, and I realised I had managed not to pass it on to any of the grandparents I saw the weekend I fell ill, I started to try and adjust to a new way of life under lockdown.

My mum and sister were doing Joe Wicks workouts every morning and we were taking our dog out on a walk for our one walk a day, but these things were a struggle for me for a good month. As someone who did dance regularly at university and tried to keep in good health, it was difficult to realise that I was now finding these things hard. The mild asthma I had suffered with since I was young seemed to take more of a hold as I became ill and stayed for a while after. Slowly though I managed to build up some strength and get back to the level of fitness I had before March 2020 hit.

I still have side effects now, 1 year on. More and more continues to be learnt about the virus and its lasting effects. For me, once it had left my respiratory system it seems to have left its effect on my digestive system, leaving me insecure every day about the bloating I now see in my stomach. I obviously cannot say for sure that it is from Covid. Considering that when I fell ill, testing was not available to me, I cannot be 100% certain I had it, but the timings match up and after speaking to my GP, it seems likely. Now all I can do is learn to manage the lingering symptoms, try changing my diet and see if it will subside. 

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