As the country begins to open up and we move towards more normality 23 year-old Heather Campbell is a stark reminder that Covid-19 is still out there and can cause long term health issues.
Heather from Motherwell was a fit and healthy staff nurse within the orthopaedic trauma at University Hospital Wishaw (UHW). She had no underlying health issues but took unwell last November with Covid-19 symptoms.
Heather was unwell for three weeks at home and despite having symptoms, she had two initial negative PCR test results before testing positive.
Heather said: “I was fairly unwell at home for around three weeks and my symptoms took a long time to settle. I was treated with oral antibiotics and a steroid inhaler for a lower respiratory tract infection in December.
“In January I attended A&E with increasing chest pain but all my tests came back normal. I have since been referred for a 24 hour heart monitor, chest x-ray and numerous blood tests which have also come back as normal.
“The other symptoms I have to live with daily include a loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, spiking temperatures and fevers, muscle and joint aches, tachycardia, heart palpitations, chest pain, headaches, eye aches, initial hallucinations, difficulty sleeping, abdominal pains, confusion and brain fog. Physical activity including walking at a slow pace aggravates symptoms and can leave me with joint and muscle pains and in bed for days afterwards.
“Some days I do not want to get out of bed and even taking a shower and washing my hair can cause heart palpitations.
“I attempted a phased return in April 2021 however despite being on reduced duties and hours, the demands of the job paired with my ongoing symptoms only enabled me to complete two days before having to go off sick again.”
Heather says she is a completely different person from who she was eight months ago. She added:
“I never would have expected at 23 to be so unable to do things that before were so easy,” she explained.
“I don’t feel 23 anymore, I feel so much older.
“I find myself not attending many social events with friends since the easing of restrictions due to exhaustion and can feel quite isolated. I’m missing out on so much.
“I’d urge everyone to remain vigilant and stick to the rules as much as possible. I understand the desire to want to meet friends and family in big groups without masks or social distancing after such a long period of time, however I am an example that any young, fit and healthy individual could be affected so heavily by COVID.
“I would also urge everyone who is eligible to get their vaccinations to protect themselves and others.”
Around 1 in 10 people suffer from prolonged illness after Covid-19. Recovery from Covid can take many weeks – even months – until people start to feel themselves again.
And long Covid symptoms range from common ones such as fatigue and fever to anxiety and muscle pains, to more unusual symptoms such as heart palpitations, skin problems and even hallucinations.
One of the most common post-Covid symptoms – especially for people who have been in hospital – is continued shortness of breath, regardless if they’re motionless or moving around.
Many such patients get better progressively with rest, exercises and a gradual increase in activity.
You can watch Heather tell her story at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0TihzPqaxg