Living with long-COVID: Gina's story

Most people who contract COVID-19 make a full recovery within 12 weeks. However, symptoms can last longer. The virus may result in post-COVID-19 syndrome, or long-COVID. This is Gina's story.
Gina in hospital bed

The symptoms of long-COVID include extreme tiredness, a shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, and problems with memory and concentration - sometimes called 'brain fog'. Current NHS advice is to contact your GP if you're worried about symptoms 4 weeks or more after having coronavirus.

We spoke to Gina. Here's her story about long-COVID:

"My name is Gina, I am 64 years old, and I am a Foster Carer. I was diagnosed with Covid (COVID-19) in December 2020, just before Christmas. Initially, even though I was very ill, I wanted to remain at home and self-isolate, but I became too ill and had to be taken to the hospital. I do not know how I arrived at the hospital, but when I woke up, a nurse told me I had been in for 10 days already. In total, I stayed for about 2 weeks and was on oxygen all the time. I was also given lots of tablets and injections in my stomach."

My hospital treatment was going well, then one day, I was told that I was going to be discharged immediately and they were waiting for the ambulance to take me home. 

"I was shocked as I felt that I was not yet ready to be discharged even though in my heart, I wanted to return home. For me, the biggest worry was my legs, not my medication because I had been given enough. I felt that two more days in the hospital could have made so much difference in my health."

"When I returned home, I was generally very weak and in so much pain. Both my knee joints were swollen and achy.  My eyes were dry, hurting and I could not see at all. The kids were scared, and my son wanted me in the hospital for longer because he was so frightened."

"Getting an appointment with the GP has not been easy." Gina was asked what she felt were insensitive questions which triggered a lot of emotion and fear. 'It made me realise how unaware they were of the traumatic impact of Covid hospitalisation."

In my daily life, long-Covid is really affecting me.

"I cannot cook for myself as I used to, but then again, I have no appetite. I am less active, and I have lost confidence in driving. I have become very forgetful and all I want is to sleep."

Long-Covid is affecting Gina financially too.  "As a Foster Carer, I used to care for three kids at the same time, but since I returned from hospital, two of them have been removed from my care because I'm unable to look after them. The third one is staying with me as he spends 3 days a week away from home, and because he can cook for himself."

"To treat my long-Covid, I was given steroids and other tablets for 2 weeks." Gina is also taking paracetamol for pain. She received her Covid vaccine a few weeks ago.

"Dealing with long-Covid is my main challenge now. Sometimes, even just going to have a shower is very challenging, and often I would just return to bed and sleep. I have phlegm I cannot cough up, still have loss of my sense of smell and taste and I have experienced loss of my hair."

My hands are cold and tingly all the time with pins and needles feelings, I cannot lift anything heavy. 

Gina would like more awareness about the support available for long-Covid. "I have been looking for information on the internet, but there is hardly any information available."

She says "long-Covid is not something I would wish on anyone."

If you, like Gina, would like to tell Healthwatch about your experience of long-Covid please contact us in complete confidence by using the button below. 

Share your views

You can help make health and care services better by sharing your experiences and ideas.

Talk to us