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John’s Story

Published 17.08.20

I live on my own and before the attack I was building a retaining wall in the garden. This demanded carrying 25kg bags of sand and cement and blocks of 30+kg through the house to the back for use. Began by isolating as requested. Some weeks in I was coming home from shopping (everyone was wearing a mask) and I noticed a sudden headache and cough whilst driving. Living in a terraced house, I informed my neighbours about my symptoms and said I was going to isolate myself at home for two weeks. They said they would do the necessary shopping which I was grateful for. That day headache became so worse that I took some paracetamol and went to bed for the day.

Next day woke up with no headache but finding it harder to breath and could only breath easily lying down.

Decided to make a pot of stew in pressure cooker to last for a few days so that I would only have to get up and eat and drink and go back to bed.

Over the next week it took longer and longer to prepare the vegetables that I had my neighbour buy frozen ready-cut vegetables to just stick in the pot and cook.

Survived on stew and fruit for weeks.

However, as I was able to breath easily at rest, I didn’t consider myself an emergency case and thought, like the flu, it would be over in 2 weeks.

Well, 6 weeks went by with no deterioration in condition, but no improvement either. So, I started to walk around the house a little faster and do all activities faster. This is what the body did not like. I would get out of breath and stop and rest and start and stop over and over. This is no different to the flu, I thought.

However, at some point, I’m not sure exactly when anymore as it is over 10 weeks ago now, my body simply refused to do any activity other than at 1km/h. Showering took 1 hour ,as I would get lightheaded if I moved my arms too fast; I could get dizzy shaving too quickly; eating too quickly would cause lightheadedness; making food made me tired.

By the second week of July, I had to call an ambulance as I became incapable of getting out of my recliner chair. The ambulance came, did their tests, found nothing. Took me to hospital, had the tests, nothing. Came home next day by taxi. Same thing happened a few days later, but with no Covid test. Again nothing.

In the following weeks in July, I have been able to do a little more activity and walk without a stick. I can now cook my own meals, as long as I remember to get the items out of the freezer in time. The freezer and dishwasher have saved my life. I can drive to the supermarket (1.5kms away) now, but I still have to use the electric trolley chair. I have to lie down for at least an hour afterwards.

There were two days last week when all of a sudden I had no symptoms whatsoever. I thought that was it, but was still wary of doing too much. Shopping went easily and carrying it into the house. I happened to have a appointment at the surgery that day and found my blood pressure back to normal. Great, I thought. At last.

From Wednesday onwards, my energy levels dropped so much that by Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, I had to just stay in bed and sleep!

On a neurological note, memory is worse, even for a person with ADHD. Simple ideas get lost. Everyday vocabulary in English gets forgotten. My passive vocabulary in English and German is normal, but thinking about Spanish, which I could listen to easily before this, now just gives me a headache. Thinking in itself has become much more difficult. The U. C . forms are a nightmare in this condition.

So, I am stuck, going at a shuffle in doing everything and resting every 5-10 mins of activity because if I get out of breath, it would end up me lying down again for at least 30 mins.

I have lots of questions with no answers regarding any future at all. Just surviving day by day. The doctors don’t know how to categorise me, nor the benefits people.

Update 23.08.20

Showering takes up to an hour, otherwise I still get out of breath.

Anything done quickly and suddenly gets me out of breath – rushing to answer telephone, shaking a jar vigorously, getting dressed too quickly, putting clothes out on line, holding arms out at shoulder height. I have given up on shopping in supermarket because it is too exhausting driving the electric trolley.

Lot of day spent resting in between 5-10 minutes of activity – keeping kitchen clean, the rest of the house hasn’t been cleaned in 4 months. Just changing bed sheets leaves me needing to rest for an hour.

Medical reports so far – Chest X rays – clear, blood tests show nothing, oxygenation is high 90s, peak force meter readings are 650+, yet it feels like my energy just drains so quickly. I am waiting for a lung scan to find out more detail on lung condition.