Mum suffering ‘Long Covid’ symptoms left exhausted after just washing the dishes
A mum has to lie on the sofa after doing basic household tasks like washing dishes as she continues to fight the lasting effects of coronavirus six months on.
Clare Haynes is one of the so-called “long-haulers” – some 60,000 sufferers with deeply debilitating symptoms lasting more than 12 weeks.
The 50-year-old, from Kings Heath, Birmingham, has had to completely overhaul her life as she endures breathing problems, aching muscles and tingling in the arms and legs.
She went from dancing salsa for four of five hours at a time prior to being stuck down with Covid-19 in April to “barely being able to walk up the stairs”, she told BirminghamLive.
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“I haven’t had a single day when I have felt how I did before I became ill,” she explained, adding: “It’s like being on a roller-coaster.”
After contracting the virus at the height of Britain’s first wave her condition quickly worsened, resulting in three spells in hospital on oxygen.
Only in the last couple of weeks has the mum began to see any improvement, admitting at times her ordeal has left her feeling “absolutely dreadful”.
On one occasion she was stood for no more than eight minutes talking on her doorstep, but it made her feel like she was “going to collapse”.
Evidence suggests many of the thousands suffering Long Covid don’t fall into the vulnerable categories, such as the elderly or those with underlying health conditions.
Ms Haynes has spoken to others in the same boat and said they “come from all walks of life” including active cyclists and marathon runners.
“It doesn’t discriminate really, it affects everybody,” she said.
There are still so many unanswered questions around the virus, particularly for those with long-term symptoms, with the likes of Ms Haynes in the dark about what the future holds.
However, she said things have “started to evolve in the past few weeks”, though she still struggles with fact that there is “no time scale in terms of getting better”.
The public sector worker is planning a phased return to work, after months of thinking normality was “impossible”.
Ms Haynes feels lucky that her employer and family have been so sympathetic but knows others have been told their symptoms are psychosomatic and are forced back to work before they’re ready.
Fellow Birmingham resident Claire Hastie set up an online group for Long Covid sufferers to provide information and support for those going through a “frightening, uncertain and life-changing experience”.
“For many, the group has been a lifeline, as only those living with the diverse, evolving and alarming symptoms can appreciate what it’s like, and the warmth and compassion are invaluable,” she said.
“A lot of us aren’t in official stats as tests weren’t available when many of us fell ill, and we continue to campaign hard for rehab, research and recognition.”
She added that research in Germany and more recently in the UK shows some sufferers who weren’t hospitalised can still have organ damage.
Like many other NHS trusts, a spokesman for University Hospitals Birmingham said it is running Covid follow up clinics on a weekly basis, while giving advice to GPs for patients who weren’t admitted to hospital.
They added 40 clinicians from a range of specialities and researchers are delivering a comprehensive approach to clinics.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said research is continuing to be carried out and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is working on guidelines for Long Covid treatment.
Campaigners have said this is a welcome step but that patients had to play an active part in the process.
You can find the Long Covid Support Group on Facebook.
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