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Catherine’s Story

Published 05.10.20

12 March 2020 – On the pavement I passed a runner who was in a bad way. He was gasping for air and was half jogging / half walking – focused on getting back home and not going to stop. I suspected it was COVID-19. At the time we were being told to wash our hands – there was nothing about face covering or social distancing. I could not go on the main road because of traffic. As I passed him on the pavement, I held my breath – but could not hold it long enough. I felt air started to be drawn up my nose. 14 / 15 March I noticed I had sudden wet coughs after eating (particularly chocolate). Also had acid reflux whilst lying down and turning over.

16 March – Dreadful symptoms came on suddenly after having lunch. Raspy sore throat, legs felt like lead, I felt very dizzy, I could not spell when texting, I self-isolated and went to bed. By early evening I had a raspy pain under sternum, and pain in the left side of my chest and left arm as my heart beat – my heart was pounding. All happened very quickly. Day 2 – My chest hurt when breathing and when I got out of bed I could not bend over as there was so much pain in my chest, it was hard talking. Day 3 I felt sick and lost my appetite. Day 4 There was a belt like pain around my lower ribs and pain where my kidneys are.

I was very tired over all this time. I noticed my eyes were always pink in colour. Day 5 – I was relieved when it no longer hurt to breathe, but other symptoms continued. My glands came up and I felt I was fighting the infection okay.

The following week my sore throat returned. I found milky drinks helped make my throat feel less dry. A month later my chest still hurt when I walked and I felt breathless at times. I moved my arms around as I walked outside to get air into my chest. I started again to get palpitations over the weeks that followed and on the advice of my GP stopped drinking caffeine drinks. I had numbness in legs and arms at times – and tried various things like changing my diet – including yeast extract, eating more fish etc. I also had fleeting arthritic type pains in my hands. Things did improve.

Over the months that followed there were days when I felt shaky and my eyes did not focus when doing jobs at home, sometimes I dropped things. Strange things happened for example I would try to read articles by looking at sentences all over the page – finding it difficult to scan down and read a sentence at a time. I would then switch off the computer or put down the book or paper and decide to delay reading until another time. These neurological symptoms passed. I tried to walk as much as possible, using hills nearby to improve my fitness. I sort advice from a physio regarding abdominal pain – back exercises helped.

Now in September, 6 months on, I regularly have night sweats. I sweat after eating, and sometimes when I think about eating (a bit like dumping syndrome). I often feel thirsty and dehydrated – and have a metallic taste in my mouth. I get palpitations at times (particularly if I try a cup of tea or coffee), and chest pains regularly at night in the early hours. I walk a lot and feel energetic for a few days, then feel wiped out for the next week. Bowel movements have changed from being very loose, in the first months after COVID-19, to being hard – even though I have plenty of fibre in my diet. Increasing fluid intake is helping. I’m losing weight (half a stone in a week) but food intake has now increased and weight is more stable. After eating a bit of high energy food, I can sometimes feel much better.

I have been saddened by the lack of good information on websites across the world, both on the breadth of COVID-19 symptoms, and also results of research into Long-covid. Provision of the physiological reason for each Long-covid symptom would be helpful – with hints on how to overcome each. Thanks for all you are doing at Covid-19 Recovery Collective to rectify things and to share information openly.