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Long covid: “No-one knows how long it will take me to get better"

Long covid: “No-one knows how long it will take me to get better

Thursday 03 March 2022

Long covid: “No-one knows how long it will take me to get better"

Thursday 03 March 2022

A sufferer of 'long covid' in Guernsey has told Express that her life has completely changed since contracting the virus.

Tamara O’Brien caught covid a couple of days after the island’s first lockdown.

“I’d never been so sick,” said Ms O'Brien. 

She lost her taste, became more sensitive to noise and smell, developed brain fog, suffered fatigue and had swelling which led to pain in her knees.

She was given the all-clear from the virus three week later, but her symptoms persisted, and so she returned to her GP.

“It was getting worse,” she said.

“I had brain fog, recurring chest infections, bad headaches, leg pains, noise sensitivity and my smell kept going. That was over a year ago and has persisted until now.”


Pictured: “I always get pins and needles in my face, back and eyebrows,” said Ms O’Brien.

Ms O’Brien was referred to the long covid clinic. This multi-disciplinary team was created by public health officials to offer patients access to specialists and therapists.

She was officially diagnosed with long covid after a series of tests and scans. However, it has been difficult for both her and the specialists she sees to fully understand what is happening.

“I don’t feel like people are 100% sure on how to treat it because it’s so new,” she said.

“What’s frustrating is they can’t figure out why some of the symptoms are happening.”


Pictured: Ms O’Brien made headlines during the start of the pandemic for her ‘post box toppers’ seen around the island, crocheted to bring a smile to people’s faces.

Persistent covid symptoms are obviously new, but lengthy recoveries from other viral infections are not unknown to doctors.

During a recent interview with Express, Dr Mat Dorrian said: “We as GPs have known for many years that some patients will get an infection and take a long time to recover”.

He said doctors have not "come up with definitive physiological reasons for why it happens”.

"By understanding what is happening with long covid, we might be able to understand what happens with other viruses that give ongoing symptoms,” he said.


Pictured: Cases of lengthy recoveries from viral infections pre-date covid-19. Most doctors say they have identified only a few cases of 'long covid' locally. 

Unfortunately, there is little relief available to Ms O’Brien, who says her life has completely changed.

“I can’t walk from my house to the shops anymore. Even walking up the stairs can have me breathless and in extreme pain," she said. 

"I have to plan what I do each day depending on how I'm feeling.

"It’s hard when the kids see me now compared to how I used to be. No-one knows how long it will take me to get better, but I hope to find my way back to recovery."

Ms O’Brien spoke to Express hoping to raise awareness of the ongoing issues facing people with long covid.

She said: “I’d love to see a support group develop over here, to see how different people are reacting to treatment.”


Health officials and doctors seeing relatively few cases of long covid

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