It is 3 years and 4 months since I first contracted Covid in October 2020. I was the first person in my family and friend groups and the only person I knew personally to have it, it was scary but I was the fittest I’d ever been and felt like if I was going to get it I was in the best shape to fight it. I expected to feel rotten for a week or two and then be glad it was done with and I’d be immune for a while. That was not the case. In January 2021 I was diagnosed with Long Covid and began experiencing the symptoms I still deal with daily today. I’ve had three further infections of covid since that time and with the third in June 2022 my symptoms worsened extremely quickly and they affect my daily life in so many ways. I am in pain every day at a level which although I am now used to is incredibly exhausting, I have become a master at masking my pain but it is there and it is constant. Some days are far worse than others of course. Here are a few of the symptoms which I deal with each day:
* Significant joint pain, particularly in my legs and feet. As someone who loved to walk up to 25k steps a day this has been a hard pill to swallow.
* Dysfunctional breathing. I have too much carbon dioxide in my blood and I have shortness of breath frequently.
* Heart rate issues. I have a much faster heart rate and irregular beats and palpitations.
* Fatigue. Now fatigue doesn’t mean you feel sleepy, fatigue is like walking through wet sand every day. I am never not tired on a level which I’ve only ever experienced on the worst days of very early pregnancy.
* Brain fog and concentration issues. I was an avid reader and writer pre covid. Now some days I find it hard to find the simplest of words and I have alarms for everything I need to remember.
* Neuropathy and hyperesthesia. Two big words which basically mean I have hyper sensitive skin, my skin can feel like it has sunburn or be sensitive to the lightest touch as well as pins and needles or crawling sensation and numbness.
* PEM or post exertional malaise – is the crash that occurs anytime I do too much of anything. Perhaps one day I feel a bit better and so I give the house a good sort out or I try to take my kids out somewhere, I may feel the effects of that exertion for a week or two and it causes a relapse in all of my symptoms. Some days that crash occurs whilst doing said activity like shopping, I feel like my battery goes from 50% to zero in a second.
* Digestive problems – stomach issues are common post covid and for many the use of anti inflammatory medication used to help with joint issues causes additional damage. I have severe acid reflux now which I’ve never experienced before and a sliding hiatal hernia which causes significant pain. Doctors believe gut issues are due to the fact that the stomach lining has a large amount of the receptors that the virus uses to invade cells.
* Histamine intolerance. Histamines are the cause of the acute inflammatory and hypersensitivity responses in Long Covid. It may mean you develop allergies or repeatedly get hives or rashes. I get very sore hands and as soon as the weather gets a little warmer they get a lot more painful with bumps and blisters.
* Hair loss and skin changes. I’ve experienced significant hair loss since having Covid. Luckily I have very thick hair and a lot of it otherwise it would be very visible.
There are more but I don’t want to bore you.
I am writing this whilst at the end of my 4th infection in January 2024. This time around felt very similar to the first, it is an incredibly nasty strain. Early symptoms included : incredible body aches, a high persistent temperature, very sore throat and a pounding headache. I am worried because I know it’s very likely that my LC symptoms will worsen. The latest LC studies show that of those who still had LC at the time of reinfection 80% saw their symptoms worsen, around 85% saw old symptoms return or new additional symptoms. In the 60% of people who were in recovery or remission, reinfection caused a recurrence of LC.
And to be honest this is why I’m writing this now. A lot of people think Covid isn’t important anymore, that there is no point in testing and no point in isolating. But it is important, in fact avoiding covid is crucial to people like me. It is also important that I know when I have it so that my doctors and I have an understanding of why my illness is getting worse and to take relevant medications or supplements to boost me at this time. It’s impossible to shield completely but you can protect people like me by testing yourself and staying away. Ignorance is bliss I know and I’ve had many a debate even with people in my own family who know love me and see everything I go through with this illness. Continuing to get Covid is damaging to me, it impacts my future health and my ability to be a present and active parent and in some cases it will still kill people. And it’s not just people with LC, anyone with immunity issues, heart or respiratory conditions or anyone currently receiving treatment such as chemotherapy could be severely affected by being infected. Also I’m sure most of us know someone who works in a hospital environment, if you pass it on to them it could be causing such problems for the patients they deal with. I can’t tell you what to do but I will urge you to think more, if you had norovirus ( the vomiting and diarrhoea bug) you wouldn’t think twice about spending time with other people, you’d stay away as it’s highly contagious and could make certain people very unwell, the same goes for Covid. For me and for every other person who this affects I urge you to think about the consequences and be considerate.