Although much of the world has returned to some sort of normalcy since the pandemic began, nearly half of those who contracted Covid-19 reported symptoms of Long Covid for several months after testing negative for the virus.
Recent research has shown that almost 340,000 people in Ireland are living with Long Covid, and a new study from King’s College London has revealed that there appear to be three different types of the condition.
The first group suffers from neurological symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog and headaches, a second group suffers from chest pain, shortness of breath and other respiratory problems, while a third group experiences a variety of symptoms including muscle pain, palpitations and changes in the skin and hair.
We spoke to people from each category to find out how they deal with it.
“I get weird headaches and sweats”
Margaret McCabe (58) lives in Dublin with her partner and two children aged 14 and 21. She contracted Covid-19 a year and a half ago and says her life hasn’t been the same since, as she still suffers from brain fog, fatigue and headaches.
“I contracted Covid in January 2021 and after spending three weeks in isolation I spent six days in hospital. I was incredibly sick. It’s funny because I wasn’t traveling or meeting anyone as we were trying to socially distance from people because my partner has diabetes, heart failure and asthma so he was classified as high risk. Sure enough, the rest of us got it, but he never did.
“Since I tested negative I’ve had so many issues, the biggest being being completely and completely drained of energy the entire time. It’s really hard because if I was used to getting up, making the bed, having breakfast, cleaning the kitchen or going to work as a volunteer, nowadays I’m down the stairs at the latest and just the washing machine full, I’m completely exhausted.
“I’ve also been getting really weird headaches in the back of my head which I’ve found out to be nerve related and I’m breaking out in terrible sweats. Take this morning for example – I just washed down a few cups and got an profuse head sweat. My hair was soaked.
“Another thing I have suffered from is brain fog. My family keeps telling me that I keep telling them the same thing, but I don’t remember saying it. Today I first ask someone if I have already told them something, otherwise I repeat myself. My son said that if he didn’t know better, he would be convinced I had Alzheimer’s.
“I visit the Covid clinic at St James’ Hospital every three months but no one seems to know what the outcome will be. I’ve had occupational therapy and physical therapy and everyone is doing their best but it’s very hard not to know. Also, I often get conflicting advice. One doctor told me to just keep going and make an effort, while another doctor told me to do the opposite and said it doesn’t matter if the house is a mess – that I shouldn’t expend all my energy just because it’s me I feel good one morning as it will really wear me out for a few days afterwards.
“It’s the not knowing that makes it so difficult – I asked my own doctor if it was a lifelong condition I would have to live with and he said he didn’t know as even they were only just learning how to move on . Thank goodness he’s being so honest, but it’s hard — I’m only 58 but I have less energy than a lot of people are in their 70s.”
“It was like my whole system crashed”
Eugene Van As (47) lives in Dublin with his partner. He has suffered from chest pain and breathing difficulties since contracting Covid-19 at the very beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. He says life has gotten increasingly difficult and he doesn’t know if he’ll ever recover.
“After about three weeks of being in bed with Covid-19 I felt a little better but the tiredness was there all the time. I remember feeling a little better the first weekend after Covid and we even had a BBQ – but on Monday I was back in bed with breathing difficulties and chest pains, as well as a headache, burning eyes, sweats, rib pain and muscle aches. I felt like lead. Then I got pneumonia, sinus infections, eye and ear infections, gastritis and a gastrointestinal infection, numb toes and trembling arms and legs – I was basically on antibiotics about 7 times in a few months. It was like my whole system crashed.
“I still have chest pain and difficulty breathing, along with the other symptoms and some new ones.
“Since I developed Long Covid my whole life has changed. I can only do a few things around the house. I get dizzy all the time and feel sore all over my body – sometimes my feet are so sore I have to climb the two steps sideways into the house. I’m like a 90 year old.
“I’ve had a lot of tests done but either I’m told everything is fine or I don’t get any results at all as there’s no specific doctor to look after me – it’s everywhere. And what I’m told most often is that ‘it has to be related to Covid so you’ll just have to wait it out as we don’t know what to do’.”
“My hair has become brittle and I’m itchy all the time”
Linda Dalton (47) was diagnosed with Covid-19 in October 2020. Married and based in Kilkenny, she has three adult children and two grandchildren and although she used to work as a retail assistant, she has been on sick leave for two years as she suffers from a variety of Long Covid symptoms.
“When I got Covid I had a mild infection, a slight fever and lost my sense of taste and smell. I was anxious to get back to myself afterwards, but I never did, and instead things went downhill with a variety of different ailments that I’ve suffered from ever since.
“The top five symptoms would be pain, particularly in my muscles and joints, tinnitus and a humming vibration on my skin, immense fatigue where I become a zombie, staring into space and unable to move, unexplained sinus tachycardia and palpitations, and memory loss.
“It’s been 22 months since I’ve had Covid. My hair has become dry, brittle and falls out in clumps, so I don’t wash or brush it often as I have to save my energy for more important things. Also, my skin feels like bugs are crawling all over me. I’m constantly itching and brushing my arms and legs in anticipation of finding some form of insect, but I never do.
“My life has changed dramatically since I got sick. It’s been an immense struggle and I have no hope of recovery. There is certainly no light at the end of this long Covid tunnel and I have only recently come to terms with the fact that I will never be better off. I no longer work and am pretty much confined to my house – I have little or no reason to go out and most days I am too ill to do so.
“That’s why I want all newly diagnosed Long Covid patients to have their symptoms treated and believed, not fobbed off and told they’re suffering from anxiety or that it’s all in their heads.”
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/the-three-types-of-long-covid-my-whole-system-crashed-and-my-life-changed-41983626.html The three guys from Long Covid: ‘My whole system crashed and my life changed’