My experience of Coronavirus and Long Covid
I’ve been meaning to write about my experience of Coronavirus and Long covid for months now. Unsure whether to write it at all, I asked my friends and the majority said do it. If this article gives information to others or perhaps resonates with someone else’s experience then it will be good. Or perhaps someone can offer some tips on how to get through it? Also, I know there are some people who don’t believe coronavirus is real. The more people write about their own experiences, the more people will realise that it is very real.
I have split this blog post into “The Science” which are facts based on research done by others and the “Personal” bit which is merely my own experience, interpretation, feeling, conclusion which is not based on scientific fact. Also, I know others have suffered from Coronavirus much worse than me so I am focussing this on the Long Covid part of the illness.
According to Zoe, the covid research programme based at King’s College London there are two broad groups of long covid sufferers. One is dominated by respiratory symptoms as well as fatigue and headaches. The second group was ‘multi-system’, affecting many parts of the body including the brain, gut and heart.
My Virus Timeline
I believe I contracted coronavirus in early March, but given that there were no tests available to the public at this time I can only conclude that what I had was coronavirus. Doctors that I have spoken to since March have also concluded that I had coronavirus. I had all the main symptoms of this virus namely cough, fever, lethargy, loss of taste and smell. I also experienced dizziness, stomach upset, heart palpitations, aching lungs, aching kidneys, restless legs and a hoarse voice. At the time when I first got ill I was not prepared. I live on my own and had not stocked up on food or medicine. I had recently moved to Birmingham and didn’t know many people in the area. I was pretty scared. My lowest point was one night when I was dizzy, sick and needed to get to the bathroom. I had to crawl there because I was so dizzy. I ended up lying on the bathroom floor, for I don’t know how long, with the room spinning. I was on the verge of calling the ambulance. After a long while the dizziness subsided and I managed to crawl back in bed. Luckily I felt a lot better the next day.
After 14 days of isolation I felt much better so decided to venture out on a cycle ride. This was a big mistake. I felt ok but was not 100% and I realise now that I overdid it. I relapsed in a big way and was sick again.
April to October 2020
It would be nice to describe this period of time as “recovery time” but it was more like better days and worst days. Since first contracting coronavirus in March I have not felt 100-percent well. This has been coined by many thousands of sufferers as Long Covid. Some days I feel slightly better, some days I feel completely drained and unwell. On a good day I have that feeling that I’m coming down with something. You know the feeling when you don’t feel quite right, you feel a bit unwell not at full capacity? On bad days my main Long Covid symptoms are swollen throat glands, sore throat, hoarse voice, sinus pain, extreme fatigue. I had a relapse during this period and have had to take time off work when I was not well enough to work.
Another persistent symptom, which is annoying rather than debilitating, is altered taste and smell. Some things taste and smell very different, even now, 8 months on. Household cleaning products smell really strong and chemically, quite unbearable. Mint toothpaste doesn’t taste the same anymore. I still get the cool sensation in my mouth but none of the minty flavour, very disappointing. It just tastes weird. I can no longer smell sulphurous things. I use a sulphur based chemical in jewellery making and it smells completely different now. It used to be really unpleasant but now it smells quite nice, almost nutty. It’s very strange.
Now, November 2020
So, 8 months on and I’m still suffering with long covid. At the end of last month and the beginning of this I have done quite a lot. I moved house, went on a long country walk and been busy at work. I believe this has caused yet another relapse. For 3 weeks I have experienced my symptoms (swollen throat glands, sore throat and fatigue) in an extreme form. For approximately 3 days I could not do anything but move slowly around my flat and rest. I feel like I’m through the worst of it but I’m still recovering. I realise now that this long covid is ongoing and I don’t know when it will end. I am learning what my limits are and thinking how to plan my life accordingly.
Why did I get Long Covid?
Prior to getting coronavirus my doctor suggested I might have high blood pressure and wanted to investigate more. Alas the pandemic intervened and the investigations couldn’t go ahead. During lockdown I bought myself a blood pressure monitor. I measured my blood pressure every day and as the doctor had suspected my blood pressure was high. Having read the news reports and scientific research in the press it became evident that my high blood pressure could be a cause of my long covid.
Trying to cure Long Covid
Realising I had hypertension prompted me to purchase several recipe books on the DASH diet, the mediteranean diet and the Doctor’s Kitchen (my favourite). The DASH diet is doctor approved to reduce hypertension. I made it my lockdown mission to eat healthier, lose weight and reduce my blood pressure. I really enjoyed learning new recipes, making delicious food whilst I had the time. I learned how to prepare food to make myself more healthy. To a certain extent the diet helped me feel better and my blood pressure did go down. I did lose weight. I did have more energy. However the diet did not cure my long covid. I must admit I don’t stick to my healthy diet every day but I do try for the majority of the time. Mentally I feel that a healthy diet is helping me a bit even though it hasn’t cured my long covid symptoms.
Recipes from the Doctor’s Kitchen include lots of medicinal spices including ginger, turmeric, garlic & cinamon. The dishes are really tasty but they haven’t cured my long covid symptoms.
Some people with long covid had said that giving up sugar, caffeine and alcohol helped with their symptoms. So I tried to give up processed sugar, reduce my caffeine and alcohol intake. Again I did feel very virtuous for a while but unfortunately it did not cure my long covid symptoms.
I have also been taking vitamin supplements but cannot say that they have made any improvement to my long covid symptoms or not?
I got myself a fitbit and started walking. Because of my energy levels and anxiety my first walks were short. I slowly built up to longer walks. When we came out of lockdown I joined the Ramblers and managed some fairly long walks over the summer. Whilst they mentally boosted my wellbeing I felt completely shattered for a couple of days after each walk.
Whenever I’ve felt well enough I’ve continued to do Pilates with Kate on Zoom during lockdown and briefly (whilst we could) in King’s Heath. Kate is a brilliant and supportive teacher and a wonderful lady. She came to my rescue with paracetamol when I was in isolation with Coronavirus. Thank you Kate.
I’ve watched many videos on lymphatic drainage self massage and tried it for 2 weeks. I don’t know if I was doing it correctly? Perhaps you’re not supposed to do it whilst you are sick? Anyway, it made me feel worse so I stopped.
As several doctors have prescribed, I am taking paracetamol 3 or 4 times day to help relieve pain in my glands and throat. I’ve been taking paracetamol everyday now since mid March. That’s 8 months! This is not really something I want to do but it does provide some relief so I will carry on as long as it’s not detrimental to my health.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Stress and anxiety reared their ugly heads during my illness with coronavirus. My anxiety got so bad I had to speak to a counsellor. I feel in a much better place now but it was a scary experience. I don’t know if the anxiety was bought on by coronavirus or by the media? I have put myself on a strict media diet now and this is definitely helping to reduce my anxiety levels. Counselling, meditation, Zen with Kim, gratitude, aromatherapy and reflexology have all helped to get me through the worst. I’m happy to say that now I feel much more able to cope.
I couldn’t have got through the last 8 months without my close friends support network. They have been amazing, thank you to you.
Friends, family and colleagues ALL want to help and offer me suggestions of how to get rid of long covid. These include cold water swimming, Reiki, chakra cleansing and more which I have yet to try.
Long Covid – The Conclusion…?
So, I still have long covid symptoms 8 months on. They haven’t improved at all. I don’t know how to cure them. I don’t think the doctors or researchers do either? I don’t know how long they will last? I don’t think the doctors or researchers know either? Have you had a similar experience and want to share it with me? Perhaps you have some tips on how to improve long covid symptoms?
Please feel free to share this article with anyone who might find it useful.
Please write your comments below, all are welcome. Thank you, Ellie