Brief Outline:

Felix is an overseas student studying at University in the UK. Since having Long Covid he is living at home in Germany with his parents.
Ethnic background: German.
Felix has had Long Covid symptoms for seven months. He has bad headaches, chronic pain, and debilitating fatigue. He has seen various health professionals in the UK and in Germany, including the Long Covid clinic, and prescribed various pain medications. Nothing has improved his symptoms. He has to carefully manage his daily activity otherwise he is unable to do anything but rest in bed the following day. It is difficult adjusting to being cared for by his parents when he had been studying abroad and living independently. Uncertainty about the future for himself and for his parents is the “big elephant in the room.” He wants to see more funding put into Long Covid research and recognition by healthcare professionals of Long Covid as a physical condition. Felix was interviewed in June 2022.


More about me...

On a Monday morning in early December, Felix started feeling unwell with flu-like symptoms. After a text message from one of his University friends who had tested positive for Covid, he booked a PCR test. Felix’s test came back negative which he was surprised by because other University friends he was in close contact with were having the same symptoms and receiving positive PCR test results.
After a week of seeing no improvement in his symptoms, Felix contacted the University medical practice who sent him to hospital for tests which showed nothing wrong. He was advised that it was probably the flu. After feeling more unwell, Felix contacted 111 for advice and then a week later he went to a walk-in clinic. He was prescribed pain medication and advised to go to hospital if his symptoms didn’t improve. At hospital, Felix had further tests including a CT scan which found nothing. A further PCR test was negative. Felix returned home to Germany for Christmas and saw his own GP who did an antibody test which showed high levels of Covid.
After the Christmas break, Felix didn’t return to the UK to start the new University term. Between January and April, Felix saw various health professionals in Germany, including a neurologist, the chronic pain clinic, and the Long Covid clinic, but nothing has helped to reduce his symptoms. At the chronic pain clinic, Felix had some physiotherapy which was helpful to learn techniques to deal with his symptoms. He thinks non-specialist health professionals don’t know what advice to provide. His GP recommended he try some sports but Felix knows that makes his symptoms worse. Felix now sees his GP once a month for a sick note and to check how he is but there is little else he can offer and “it’s depressing.”
Felix’s Long Covid symptoms of bad headaches, body pain, and fatigue have remained “pretty constant” for seven months. With the fatigue he can sleep straight through the night until 10 or 11 in the morning and still “when I wake up I still feel tired…there is no improvement at all after sleep.” On days when he has done too much, the next day he is unable to do anything. He has to lie in bed all day. Felix has to plan his activities carefully for the day and sometimes he has to cancel plans. He knows now he can do two hours of light work but he has to be careful of exertion. He wants to do things, like run for a bus, but he has to force himself not to because he knows he will be worse the next day.
After living independently at University, going back home “sick and need [ing] care” was “shocking” for Felix and his parents. When he can, Felix tries to help out in the house, do his own shopping, and cook for his parents which he says, “gives me a better feeling to not be like just sitting here doing nothing.” But some days he can’t.
Felix feels his self-identity has changed since having Long Covid. He had been looking forward to studying a Masters in geography; a subject he enjoyed and “made up a huge part of myself.” He says when he caught Covid, “my whole previous life ended at that moment.”
Uncertainty about what the future with Long Covid might look like impacts Felix and his parents. Felix is hoping to complete his studies but it is difficult to get an extension as the University doesn’t currently recognise Long Covid as a medical condition. His parents had planned to retire soon but now there is uncertainty around whether Felix can work in the future and they may need to care for him. Felix is trying to organise disability benefits, but a doctor sees his age and physical appearance and not the post-exertion fatigue.
Felix would like to see recognition of Long Covid as a physical condition and much more funding put into Long Covid research for the large number of people who have the condition.



Felix said the most important thing for him was for healthcare professionals to recognise Long Covid as a physical illness, whilst understanding that having the condition could make people feel really depressed.

Felix said the most important thing for him was for healthcare professionals to recognise Long Covid as a physical illness, whilst understanding that having the condition could make people feel really depressed.


I think the most important thing is recognition. It’s real, it's a physical illness not like - I don't want to like insult or in any way discriminate against people with psychological illness but it just isn't one. That's the issue. Many researchers and doctors who claim it's a psychological illness claim they will get harassed by activists when they make these claims and it's just simply not true. Like I would wish you know, like it would be great, it would be treatable. You know I just would go to mental health clinic in four weeks, I will be fine, I would win. But it's not true. I'm sorry.
I met a 39-year-old father for like two-year-old daughter and he was like mentally really, really depressed but he felt anxious to actually be honest, to upcycle to like psychologist because he feared if he is honest, they will think it is a psychological illness and he won't get recognition, which is like really, really low. He probably needs that mental health support, but he's afraid of getting it because he doesn't want to get like put into this issue and don't get other treatments ever again.
That's I think another big issue for doctors. That they need to understand of course many people are just depressed. Also, many people are high suicides, so they’re suicidal. There are many - it's really because of the depressing condition. You know, you have bad illness, no one can treat it, no one wants to take it seriously. Of course, many people have some really bad feelings and may kill themselves so doctors also should screen for that. But they should know it's not the issue, like Long Covid is the issue for those psychological issues and they're not the only good psychological issue.
A big problem in this are those like multiple choice boxes tests they give you. Because if you check those like depression tests, you usually get a positive result if you have like Long Covid because you have fatigue and you have pain, but it isn't because for example, you feel like because you don't want to do things you want to do, but you can't. You know that's the main difference. And most like schedules which are used for like depression screening, they aren't good enough to filter these kind of things out. So, I don't blame doctors, without any further information for coming to those. That’s a psychological issue, they don’t need psychological treatment, but it won't help them you know.


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