Since COVID-19 and the bacterial chest infection cleared by the end of May 2020, I am still experiencing debilitating symptoms caused by the infections. I’ve been diagnosed with post viral fatigue, which is being seen as one of the group of symptoms experienced by Long Covid sufferers.
Symptoms of Post Viral Fatigue
I have severe fatigue which is debilitating and affecting my day to day life. I have flu like symptoms and still continue to have chills when I am exhausted and at the point of crashing. I suffer from brain fog and have difficulty concentrating, have problems with words and constructing sentences. Something that would take an hour to do takes three times as long.
I cannot do the basic every day things like cooking and cleaning at the moment. I have to rely on my husband to do these things. The help he gives me enables me to have the energy to go for a walk in the park. This has been my sanctuary and it is necessary for my mental well-being.
I have good days and bad, but it feels like I’m having more bad days at the moment. There are times when I feel I am recovering and then I crash. I had a severe crash where all my energy went at the end of September, and almost two months since it happened, I still haven’t recovered from it. The anxiety and distress this is causing is severe. Not knowing when or if this is going to end is a nightmare. No one really knows at the moment. No one knows anything.
The ME Association: Covid-19 and Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome by Dr Charles Shepherd
The Effects on Society
Many people are suffering from Long Covid at the moment, and there will be many who develop long term conditions that are debilitating. The government were warned that the virus would cause disabilities, but they wouldn’t have been able to predict the extent of it.
Many people will have the threat of losing their jobs because they can’t return to work. There will be some who have the threat of losing their homes, which would be terrifying. They need help and support to manage their symptoms as well as economic support. The Statutory Sick Pay needs to be increased from £95.85 to an amount where people can survive. These things would help reduce the levels of stress in their lives so that they have a chance to recover.
Sadly as with the majority of things, this will have the greatest impact on the poorest in society. They will have no choice but to go back to work, but they will risk developing long term symptoms which will be debilitating. There are other things that will affect recovery too, such as getting proper rest and nutrition. So many people are struggling to get enough food to feed themselves and their families, and the pandemic has made it so much worse. This is the time where proper help, care and support is needed from the government. We need a strong state.
When I think how difficult it was for me to access the information I needed, to help me deal with and manage the after effects of the virus, it’s going to be impossible for those who don’t have access to a computer, or have the education and know how to navigate the internet.
Again, sadly it will be the poorest, the vulnerable and the most disadvantaged in society who will be greatly affected by this and suffer the most. Many will not have the information needed to be able to help themselves, and they will suffer unnecessarily. The government and the NHS should be providing all the information needed in an easy to find and accessible space.
Even though they say it’s a minority of people suffering from Long Covid, there are so many people who, like me, are off the radar. I feel the numbers are going to be much higher and they will increase greatly over the coming years, until they are able to suppress the spread of the virus with a vaccine.
My Fears of Not Recovering
The thing that distresses me the most is that I am not able to get back to my normal life, how it was before I had the virus. I returned to university to complete my degree in fine art in September, but when I had the big crash two weeks after starting the course, I had to take interruption of study because my health wouldn’t allow me to do it. My heart really wanted to stay so it was both heartbreaking and frustrating. My health deteriorated since I started the course and I was hindering my chances of making a full recovery.
There is a chance that I could develop chronic fatigue and the thought of this terrifies me because I know how debilitating this is. I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I want to do. For example, I need to finish my degree. I know I could probably do it part time, but that option is not available. There are going to be many like me who are not going to be able to get back to their normal lives, which is devastating.
There are many Long Covid sufferers, and like most, I feel I have been left to deal with this on my own. My doctor has been wonderful and sent me for blood tests and a chest X-ray, and thankfully everything came back clear and normal. There is nothing anyone can really do at the moment because this is new. They are learning.
Even though I am not classed as being vulnerable, I do have have an underactive thyroid, which is an autoimmune disease, and I also have many allergies and suffer from eczema. I also realise, due to suffering from ME/chronic fatigue symptoms, that I always had a very mild form of it with my thyroid condition. It feels as if the virus has exacerbated it.
The medical profession will only know for certain through research and gathering as much information from people who are suffering from Long Covid, whether other pre-existing medical conditions determine whether someone will suffer from the virus severely. They will only know this with time.
Until recently, it has only been the infection rates and the death rates that have been mentioned. If people knew the severity of the disease and the potential long term damage it could cause, it could perhaps encourage them to adhere to the social distancing rules more stringently. The problem is you don’t know how you’re going to react to the virus until you have it.