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Melanie’s Story

Published 11.06.21

I’m 49 years old and previously extremely fit and active.

At the start of April 2020, I caught covid and had symptoms for two weeks of extreme fatigue and vertigo but recovered at home with rest. Thought I’d got off lightly and other than a bit of brain fog thought I was ok.

6 weeks later in June 2020, I returned to work and started to collapse with muscle fatigue and serious brain fog. I tried to continue with my job which is a physically active role (I’m on my feet all day) and requires multitasking but I couldn’t function. A short walk to the station left me unable to move. I’d constantly be out of breath. My memory started to go.

In October 2020 I had to stop work then went through 2 months of extreme vertigo where I had to sit still and rest all the time. The last 7 months have been a blur of extreme fatigue, I’ve hardly left the house. I used to be super fit, cycle an hour every day but became reduced to an invalid hardly able to cook/clean the house and a good day where I felt better and managed a slow 10 minute walk was followed by a few days of crashing asleep where I couldn’t move or function. Just walking up 1 flight of stairs was enough to tire me for the rest of the day.

In January 2021 someone gave me a jigsaw and that led to me doing daily jigsaws which I noticed started to help with the brain fog slightly. I had the vaccine in March 2021 and noticed that mentally I was a bit sharper but the fatigue still occurred. The sheer frustration of having a previously sharp mind that suddenly can’t comprehend the most basic of mental tasks is soul destroying. Then on the 1st May 2021, I read an article by The support group LongcovidSOS about a prescription video game technology by Akili – a memory game built for ADHD sufferers by a neurosurgeon. They have started clinical trials for long covid sufferers but I couldn’t participate as it’s local New York based. The idea being that we need to treat the brain fog like Alzheimers or brain damage and create neural plasticity. At this stage I’m willing to try anything. I don’t play video games normally but I went on and found what I think were similar games using escape room/puzzle and repetitive retrieval concepts. I’m not advocating this as a cure but the results for me personally have been so dramatic that I almost can’t believe it. After 2 days of these games by brain felt like it was waking up and starting to process thoughts logically again. My physical fatigue is also receding.

What’s good for one person won’t necessarily work for another so right now, my experience is anecdotal. Anyone suffering from brain fog should look at this and see if it may help them, as right now we need all the science based help we can get. There’s another 4 weeks of clinical trials still to go with 100 long covid sufferers so I’m continuing daily with the games to follow their 6 week program. Two weeks ago I was in despair as nothing seemed to work other than pacing, but if this therapy can even help a few of you out there it’s worth a try.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel.