Long Covid leaves editor unable to read or spell: 'I'm questioning how permanent it all is'
Long Covid has been plaguing Amy Durant for ten months since her coronavirus diagnosis in March, 2020.
Speaking to Four Nine, the 31-year-old explains that she was "fit and healthy" with no underlying health conditions prior to catching the virus.
However, she's now dealing with a slew of symptoms that have made her day-to-day life "incredibly difficult".
The symptoms of long Covid
Three months after being infected with the virus, Amy, who runs her own publishing house, says that "things really crashed back down."
In May, she started experiencing fatigue, breathlessness, chest pain and cognitive issues. Other symptoms of long Covid include – but are not limited to – insomnia, dizziness, depression and anxiety, according to the NHS.
"It basically hasn't improved since then," Amy tells Four Nine. "It's hard for people to understand any long, chronic illness unless they've experienced it.
"I'll put up a picture on social media, or go for a walk – and people will be like 'you're doing loads better'. But that's only half an hour out of my day. After that, I'll have to spend the rest of the day in bed.''
Back in July, Amy was referred to a respiratory team. The CT scans they ordered showed that she had damage to her lungs, including narrowing in her airways. This could potentially be permanent, and turn into scarring.
The reality of long Covid
Perhaps the most debilitating symptom that Amy has experienced is brain fog and cognitive issues.
In August, things really deteriorated: "I basically found I couldn't read anymore. I couldn't spell words I used to be able to spell. And I definitely couldn't trust myself to spot mistakes or to not put typos into things. It basically meant I couldn't work at all."
While she is attempting to phase back into work now, she says she's only doing so because "there's not another option".
"I'm not doing it because I feel confident that I'm back to the level I was at before," she tells me. "Not by any stretch."
Long Covid amongst young people
Amy is one of around 150,000 people thought to be living with long Covid in the UK, per the BBC.
The majority of "long haulers" like Amy have received little explanation from healthcare professions about their condition, due to a lack of early data. And despite long Covid clinics springing up across the UK, there is still no standardised treatment plan, and entry requirements remain cryptic.
Amy has been rejected twice from the clinics, and her third application has been pending for three months.
"My GP has basically said that she doesn't know what to suggest," Amy continues. She adds that she believes there is an element of "reverse ageism" at play.
Guidelines according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) state that referrals to long Covid clinics should be made on the basis of patients' symptoms and the impact on their lives. It also reads that healthcare professionals should "be aware" that some people "including children and older people" may not have the "most commonly reported new or ongoing symptoms".
Amy, however, points out that her GP said she couldn't receive a referral for cardiology tests because she was "too young". She ultimately went private.
"I know a lot of people who are over 50 and have been given tests because they're in a high-risk group," she asserts. "People have been like: 'you're so young, there can't be anything wrong with you'. But I know my body, and there's something really not right. It's frustrating.
"Now, creeping towards the year mark, with no improvements, I'm starting question how permanent it all is. There are just so many questions, and I don't have the answers."