A North Lanarkshire woman has revealed the extension to which her life has been turned upside down by long COVID.
As the number of Scots with long COVID reaches a record high, the 40-year-old, who asked not to be named, is part of the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) long COVID support group.
She has spoken frankly of her frustration with the NHS and also with private health insurers as she waits in vain for any kind of potential treatment path.
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She told Lanarkshire Live: “I’ve had my heart checked, my lungs looked at, blood work done.
“Everything comes back as normal, but I’m not right. I’m still unwell – so what’s next?
“We need a better process for examining people with long COVID. When people are actively suffering because of a virus, you can’t put the onus on them for their treatment and testing.”
The woman, who works as an optometrist, believes she contracted COVID from a patient who had removed their mask to have a coughing fit during a consultation in March last year.
Three days later she fell ill with what she describes as flu-like symptoms. She didn’t need to go to hospital and returned to work when she felt better.
But within a few weeks, she started to feel fatigued and run down. By the middle of May, almost two months after she first fell ill, she found it difficult to stand and sit upright.
After her GP referred her to A&E, she had a chest x-ray and scans that showed no abnormalities, so she was sent home to rest.
She told us: “I have private medical insurance and was referred to a cardiologist who did some tests, but all was fine.
“He told me it sounded like post-viral fatigue, that I would recover in a couple of years and that was that.
“My GP suggested I had chronic fatigue syndrome and gave me an inhaler, which was pointless. But he didn’t signpost me to any help or suggest resources.
“Everything I’ve found out about this, I’ve done myself.
“I got my booster and flu shot at the same time in October and relapsed badly. For a couple of weeks, I was back to feeling as bad as I had at the start.
“I have long COVID cover through my health insurance, and they suggested I see a respiratory physio.
“But they’re only available through the NHS, not private practice, so unless I can get a referral, I’m stuck.”
CHSS, who is caring for people living with the condition, is calling for the Scottish Government to take urgent action as we continue to see the number of people living with the long-term effects of covid reaching new heights.
The charity, who set-up a Long COVID Support Service which was jointly funded by the Scottish Government, fear we will continue to see new records broken each month unless urgent action is taken..
Allan Cowie from CHSS told us: “The Scottish Government needs to approach Long COVID with more urgency.
“How many more records need to be broken before we see urgent action?
“We know that good work is being done in different parts of the country to support people with the condition.
“But we’re not seeing the speed and urgency to join things up and make sure everyone is getting the help they desperately need now.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.