An informal long covid support group has reached nearly 150 people and its founder says it has helped her realise that she is not alone.
Tamara O’Brien launched the group to find other people on the island who were experiencing ongoing symptoms of long covid.
“It gives people space to talk about what they’re going through,” said Tamara, who caught covid a few days after the first lockdown and has since been almost incapacitated by a raft of residual symptoms.
Express spoke to Tamara more than a year ago, when she explained that the impact of long covid had changed her life: “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 at the time.
Now, more than a year on, nothing has changed.
“I go to the doctors regularly now, and I’ve been prescribed medications that still don’t work for me. My main symptoms are still brain fog and fatigues, but I’m also starting to get pins and needles in my face.”
A formal support group was never fully established and the States of Guernsey dropped investigations into the ongoing impact of the illness due to a lack of cases being presented to doctors and health care officials.
“I’m quite open, I tell people about my long covid and they come forward with their stories. It’s helped me realise that I’m not alone,” she said.
“I hope people find something that works for them and then we can share it, because there isn’t a long covid clinic in Guernsey.”
Unlike Guernsey, Jersey does have a dedicated long covid clinic and as of writing 303 people have been referred to it. Exact comparisons can’t be drawn between the two islands however, because Tamara’s group has developed on Facebook, so the exact number of people in Guernsey with long covid isn’t clear.
Advice from Guernsey’s medical community continues to be; reach out to your GP if you think you are suffering with long covid.
Speaking to Express early last year, GP Dr Matt Dorian said: “GPs are experts in assessing people with these symptoms because we do it all the time.
“We then have the ability to refer to a secondary care specialist. If you have symptoms, I wouldn’t want you to worry too much. Go and see your GP and have a chat.”
More recently the Committee for Health & Social Care has released the following statement on long covid in Guernsey:
‘The pathway for long covid locally is that we recommend that patients see their GP. Most cases are managed in Primary Care, with appropriate input from therapists (physiotherapists etc).
"GPs can also refer to secondary care doctors as appropriate, and secondary care doctors may seek further support if required – and have done for a small number of cases (fewer than 5). HSC does not collate information centrally regarding long covid as the majority of cases are seen in Primary Care."
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