It would seem that although there was no need for me to access any medical assistance while I have been unwell with Coronavirus, there has been a kind of long-term effect upon me which I did not expect. ‘Long-term covid’ is a phrase that is thrown about by people, a strange and mysterious term which seems to explain a lot of the symptoms people continue to experience long after the fever subdues but does not explain why or for how long they will last. When I first heard the phrase, I felt like there was a almost positive connotation in association with other similar terms like ‘long-term relationship’, but then long-term is also not something that is often positive when used in other phrases particularly in the medical or healthcare field.
My first noticeable long-term effect is that I have a complete lack of energy, or at least what energy I have depletes quickly and if I try to continue I become breathless and, ultimately, light headed. For example, yesterday I tried to start my day as I usually would at weekends. I got up, fed the cats, made coffee, tidied up from the previous evening and that was as far as I got before needing a sit down. I have also noticed that whereas I usually will only sleep for seven to eight hours a night, without an alarm I will wake up naturally at around eight hours or a little earlier if one of the cats jumps on me in a plea for food. The last few days I have settled into some kind of routine around my day and I am sleeping for more like nine to ten hours, alongside this I am struggling to wake up and even the cats best attempts (including but not limited to sitting on my head and pawing at my face) fail to wake me up.
The second enduring problem I am having is my lack of smell and taste, which have returned enough to differentiate between things like sweet or savoury but do not really mean I have any sense of appetite. As with most people, when you have not eaten much for a period of time your need to eat a lot reduces and you are fuller much quicker. My husband’s parents were so kind and put two servings of Christmas dinner in foil trays and delivered them on Christmas Day with gravy, crackers and festive napkins. I put about half of what I could normally eat on my plate, ate about half of that and the remainder is still sitting in the fridge (some turkey did go to the cats, I’m not cruel). I could be heard recently bemoaning about the amount of weight I had gained in 2020, not because of any need to be a certain size but that in no way am I able to replace a whole wardrobe of clothes that do not fit me. I do not think that this may be an issue for much longer, or at least I won’t be getting progressively larger than I currently am.
These two things are not only physical, but are also having an mental impact upon me which I was not prepared for. It is very difficult to feel utterly useless at this point of the crisis when my job is so crucial. I am acutely aware of the need to get to a point where I am able to work again and to not push this or attempt to resume work earlier or the long-term effects could worsen. Daily I remind myself that the pandemic will still be there when I am ready to return, and that until I can happily have a ‘normal’ day at home without becoming exhausted then I can hardly have a ‘normal’ day at work. Normal in that sense just means make it through whatever the day throws at me.
I think it will be very interesting but devastating to see the long-term effects the Coronavirus has upon people. It has been publicised that there will be the opening of clinics in this country to look at the long-term and ongoing effects in people who experience symptoms such as ‘fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and pain’. In the link above, Sir Simon Stevens (NHS Chief Executive) states ‘A study from King’s College London found that older people, women and those with a greater number of different symptoms in the first week of their illness were more likely to develop long COVID with one in 10 still unable to shake off the side effects eight weeks after infection’. From speaking to some people I know who had the virus earlier in the year, some of these symptoms are still being experienced now, up to nine months later.
While I worry about the impact this will have, it is encouraging to see that research is being completed and these clinics will be opened. In the meantime, I am daily continuing to improve and, although it is slow progress, I do hope that come the new year I will be in a position to get back to my normal-for-me life. I absolutely despair at the lack of concern shown by some people around the damage this virus can do to anyone and everyone, especially those with no underlying or ongoing previous conditions. I also think there is a huge underestimation by most people of just how many people do have an underlying condition that could mean catching the virus could be disastrous. I know most people who read this blog will generally be those who are following the guidelines and restrictions, but I beg of anyone who isn’t to please re-evaluate how you see this pandemic.