Recovering from Covid 19 or Long Covid is not something I ever imagined writing about. I tested positive for Covid over four months ago via a home test. I’ve written about that here. At the time I was slightly worried but not overly so. I thought I may feel rough for a few weeks and then it would be done and I’d be immune for a little while.
However I was wrong and four months on Covid is still very much affecting my everyday life. Here are a few of the main symptoms which affect me every day:
Joint pain. All over but my legs in particular. Excruciating pain which feels like it is deep within my bones.
Endless fatigue. Just woke up = tired. Middle of day =exhausted. Mid afternoon= tired. Evening=knackered. It doesn’t matter if I rest more or rest less the fatigue is the same. It doesn’t seem to matter if I eat healthily or just junk.
Brain fog. Oh my word the level of distraction and confusion is insane. Just to give you an idea, I have been working on this draft for two weeks. Constantly editing completely random words or where I have clearly lost my train of thought.
Breathlessness. Whilst this has eased from the panicky times a few months ago it still affects me every day at some point.
Chest pain. My chest feels bruised and sore and almost like a heavy weight is on it most of the time.
Smell and taste. My sense of smell is still very much changed as is my sense of taste a lot of the time. Food tastes blander and my morning coffee often tastes like hot milky water.
Low mood/anxiety. This is a hard one to address some days but I try to get out in the fresh air no matter what the weather. Or I read things which can help pull me out of it or talk to someone.
What am I doing to aid my recovery?
I thought it may be useful to put on here the things I am doing and taking to help my recovery process. I will update this from time to time.
Vitamin D3 highest strength. All adults in the UK should be taking a vitamin D supplement through the winter months, especially now. I take the highest strength as recommended by my doctor. If you are also taking a multi vitamin make sure you adjust the strength accordingly.
Vitamin B12 oral spray. B12 is important in recovery of most viruses and can be absorbed better via an oral spray than as a tablet. It is more expensive but also more effective.
Magnesium body spray. Magnesium is important for the joint pain most people with long covid experience. Magnesium can be taken as a tablet but absorbed better via a spray onto your skin.
This is prescribed via my GP so obviously discuss with your GP what would be appropriate for you.
Pregablin. I started this on a very low dose as I am intolerant to a lot of similar medications. I am now on 100mg in the day and 150mg at night and its likely i will need that to increase. Side effects can be rough especially at the beginning of each dose increase and particularly if you are sensitive to meds as I seem to be. These side effects do ease as your body gets used to the level of medication.
Naproxen. This is a strong anti inflammatory. I take this to ease my leg pain as and when needed but generally 3 x a day.
Omeprazole. This is to protect my stomach from the Naproxen.
Paracetamol. As and when needed again to help with pain. I can’t tolerate stronger pain meds such as tramadol or cocodamol.
3. Apps and support groups.
I use the Covid 19 recovery app released by NHS Wales recently to log symptoms etc.
I joined the long covid support group on Facebook which has been great for feeling less alone in what I am experiencing.
I have downloaded word apps\games to try to help my brain get back to normal and fight the brain fog.
4. Exercise/mental wellbeing
I try to walk each day if I can. Most days I only walk to the end of my road, crazy when prior to covid I was walking 15 thousand steps a day and going to the gym. walking and being outside is vital to my mental wellbeing so I am really hoping to be able to walk longer distances soon.
I do stretches morning and night to try to help my joints.
I try to do some very light exercise at home if I am able to throughout day and if not just get up and down from sitting position as much as possible to avoid DVT. Clots are quite common in long covid sufferers.
I record my thoughts and issues in a diary called The Positive Planner. It helps to keep me focused and record my moods and pain.
I talk to my parents and friends\family about how I’m feeling but some days I very much need to not talk and that is also ok.
I am trying to eat as well as I can but some days my body seems to crave all the wrong kinds of foods. Covid can affect blood sugars, taste buds and metabolism. I have recently increased my intake of fresh fruit and veg and have tried to cut down salty, overly processed foods. I drink water all day. No caffeine after 2pm and limited to two cups of coffee in the morning.
On the Long Covid recovery group I joined recently, I asked if other sufferers had tips on how to recover from Long Covid. This is what they suggested:
Rest, rest and more rest. This was said over and over again by numerous people. With some illnesses it is recommended to push yourself afterwards to build up your strength but this does not seem to work with long covid. Most people who do this appear to suffer relapses more frequently. What some people suggested is finding your limit and doing slightly less than that to let your body fully heal.
A healthy diet. Some people cannot tolerate dairy or gluten for example after having covid. Keep food diaries and if something upsets your system then eliminate it for periods of time to see if it helps you.
Breathing exercises. You can find these on many youtube videos and on sites such as the NHS. I found when I was very breathless that the only thing which helped was lying on my stomach.
Many people have found help via daily anti histamines. Discuss anything like this with your GP.
Many recommended supplements such as I have suggested above. Again discuss this with your GP.
Try to remain positive and talk to people about how you feel.
If you are suffering from Long Covid I’d love to know more about your journey and what you are doing to aid recovery. It is by far the worst illness I have had and I was previously fairly fit aside from an issue with my back. Don’t underestimate Covid and what it can do to you. Stay safe, protect your loved ones and don’t think that just because someone wasn’t hospitalised with this illness that it can’t have awful long lasting effects for them. Be supportive, help where you can and just be patient if someone you know is struggling with it.