Amy Durant, 31, from Surrey, has been ill with long-COVID since March 2020, and a review found that at least 10 per cent of people infected with COVID 19 have suffered symptoms for months and that this is more prevalent in women and children, but what does it feel like to go from being healthy to debilitating by long COVID.
Amy Durant first got coronavirus symptoms about 14 March last year, although she didn’t know where she’d caught it because she wasn’t going out that much and was being careful, so it was most probably the supermarket.
She said it was before the first lockdown, so people weren’t wearing masks, and the overall feeling was that it wasn’t that widespread in the population, especially outside of cities.
She said that she lives with two people who she believed were particularly vulnerable – her grandmother, 92, and her partner, who has type 1 diabetes, and she said that she was the only person in the house who she wasn’t concerned about as the narrative at the time was that if you were young, you were fine.
Amy said that as soon as her symptoms started, the typical high temperature, all over body pain, and later a cough, she was convinced it was COVID. Although she couldn’t get tested back then, and she was officially diagnosed in July with an antibody test, and she said that in her entire life as an adult she’d never had an illness with a high temperature, and that she didn’t get sick, and that she had no underlying conditions, but she was later diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes inflammation, but she doesn’t know if it predated the COVID.
She said that when the symptoms began she asked her dad to come and pick her grandmother up to keep her safe. Sadly, she must have already have caught it from her because she and her dad came down with it a week later at his flat, although thankfully they both recovered quickly – her diabetic partner, who she continued to isolate with never exhibited any symptoms.
Amy said that the first few days she couldn’t get out of bed or eat anything, but that she was kind of expecting that, and she said that the acute symptoms lasted several days but that her breathing continued to be affected and her chest felt tight.
She tried to seek medical help but would just be on hold to 111 for hours, but then if you did get through they would ask what felt like ridiculous questions, such as “Can you concentrate on watching TV?”, and that if you said yes, then they would say you weren’t sick enough to be hospitalised – it was all pretty traumatic.
And it’s causing a lot of despair in communities of people with autoimmune diseases and functional neurological disorders who’ve struggled along for decades with no help and precious little recognition, who are now seeing the same symptoms getting tremendous attention – not because they begrudge the long-COVID victims the attention, far from it, they know the debilitating symptoms only too well, but because there’s been such stigma and lack of concern for comparable conditions for so long, but hopefully now there will be a sharper focus.
The good thing is that the attention benefits us all, with more exposure to the facts, more recognition, more research and more help, well, hopefully!