A-Z

Jamie

Age at interview: 36
Brief Outline:

Jamie lives with his partner and 2 year old child. He works full time as a mechanical engineer. He describes his ethnicity as white.

Jamie had cold or flu-like symptoms, but no cough, early in the pandemic (2020). He developed breathlessness and general malaise. His main challenges were getting a clear diagnosis for his illness and getting some people to take his symptoms seriously. Jamie was interviewed in April 2021.

More about me...

Jamie is an engineer in his mid-thirties. He lives with his wife and baby. Before Covid he was relatively fit and healthy.

He went to his local Covid hub in April 2020 feeling breathless. After testing his blood oxygen levels, he was advised that he probably had Covid and to rest. His wife developed similar symptoms but quickly recovered. Jamie’s breathlessness lasted for a couple of months. He developed a ‘horrible’ general malaise, and had recurring throat ulcers, sore glands and some dizziness which he found scary and made him anxious. Later in 2020 he developed severe headaches. His whole body ached. It felt like a cross between flu and sunstroke.

During the months that followed he had a frustrating and difficult time. He made several visits to his GP and to A&E and saw several specialists.

He had lots of tests, some using private health insurance through his work. He worried ‘something was seriously wrong’. He began to wonder if he had long Covid after seeing something on television. After calling a local Covid helpline, he contacted a Covid forum on Facebook. This finally gave Jamie reassurance: ‘It made me realise that this is a proper thing, long Covid.’ More recently he stepped back from the forum because he didn’t want to ‘dwell on’ it too much.

After several months, Jamie started to feel better and was able to return to work. His manager has been very supportive, but some colleagues didn’t ‘believe in’ Covid. He thinks that growing public awareness means ‘people are now starting to see it as a real illness.’ Having long Covid has made him appreciate his health and what other people who are ill may be going through.

The main message he’d like others to know is how frustrating long Covid is. It affects you physically and emotionally. It affects all aspects of a person’s life and can put a strain on relationships.

 

Jamie describes his unpredictable dizzy spells as his “scariest” symptom. They affected his confidence in doing things.

Jamie describes his unpredictable dizzy spells as his “scariest” symptom. They affected his confidence in doing things.

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You mentioned before your dizziness, Jamie is that…?

Yeah, that’s been kind of scariest symptoms for me, to be honest. It’s not like vertigo where the room’s spinning, it started off when I went back to work a few weeks later. I kind of just got this, it’s like you’re going to pass out that’s how it started, and it was like a, kind of like a pressure around my neck, I thought it was to do with blood pressure, or something. And it just generally, it kind of gradually got better but it’s like your brain and your eyes aren’t working in unison, that’s the only way I can describe it. It’s not like vertigo where the room’s spinning, it’s just like, if you turn your head too quick, it’s like your brain and your eyes aren’t quite working together properly.

And has that affected what you’re able to do on a daily basis?

It just makes me really anxious. I mean, yeah, on a daily basis, it kind of, it just makes you lose your confidence in doing things. Because you do get dizzy. I mean, I can still drive, I don’t really get it when I'm driving, it’s more when I'm moving around. It’s like, it’s just a really horrible, your eyes and your brain aren’t working together properly, it kind of feels like. I mean, I’ve had a CT scan of my brain, and that came back normal. I did an ultrasound on my heart and that came back normal, as well. So, I mean, nobody really has the answers to tell me what it is.

 

Being constantly unwell made Jamie feel depressed, unlike his usual upbeat ‘bubbly’ self. His symptoms caused anxiety. He was frustrated when people suggested the anxiety caused his symptoms.

Being constantly unwell made Jamie feel depressed, unlike his usual upbeat ‘bubbly’ self. His symptoms caused anxiety. He was frustrated when people suggested the anxiety caused his symptoms.

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Do you think that makes it more difficult, that you appear to be relatively normal to people, or some of the people that know you better, would they sort of be able to detect real differences?

I think people notice a difference in my attitude, a lot. I was usually a really upbeat kind of, bubbly, kind of up for a laugh guy, and I mean, I'm getting better now, [Interviewer's name] I feel. But the last year, 2020, I mean, I was just, I felt depressed. I was just constantly feeling not well.

And like, like people, the GPs, a lot of them were really great, and I think as they got drip-fed information about long Covid, they started to think, well these people are actually not well. I think a lot of them thought, I got told a lot of the time I was suffering from anxiety. Which I do think, I agree, I do have, I have got anxiety. But it’s the symptoms that are causing the anxiety, whereas they seem to think the anxiety is causing the symptoms, which is really frustrating.

And when you say people, is that the health care professionals you’ve been in touch with, or is that…?

Yeah, some of the GPs seem to think it’s all down to anxiety. And I’ll be honest [Interviewer's name], I think anxiety does play a part. But a hundred per cent, it’s the symptoms that cause the anxiety, which, maybe first, but it’s definitely not anxiety that’s causing the symptoms.

 

Jamie was sorry that he sometimes felt unable to be fully ‘in the moment’ with his young son. He was worried that his symptoms might flare up if he did too much.

Jamie was sorry that he sometimes felt unable to be fully ‘in the moment’ with his young son. He was worried that his symptoms might flare up if he did too much.

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I’ve got a great relationship with him… he's changed my life, that wee boy, to be honest. It’s been bittersweet, because I’ve got this brilliant wee boy that I love so much, but it’s the first couple of years of his life, I just feel like I’ve not fully enjoyed it because of this, kind of hanging over me this last year. It’s, it just kind of puts a burden on things, like when I'm taking him out, I think to myself, right, if I go and do this with him, is it going to, am I going to pay for it later, or tomorrow, when I feel rubbish again.

 

Jamie felt both pleased and frustrated when he received several negative test results.

Jamie felt both pleased and frustrated when he received several negative test results.

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I’ve had a CT scan of my brain, and that came back normal. I done an ultrasound on my heart and that’s came back normal, as well. So, I mean, nobody really has the answers to tell me what it is.

So, it sounds like over the last year or so, you’ve had, like a whole suite of different tests?

Yeah, I have, yeah. I’ve had several blood tests, I’ve been to an ENT to look at my throat. I had a, I’ve been to a neurologist, I’ve also been to a cardiologist. And there’s nothing substantial shows up. Like I said to you before, the only physical thing that I can kind of prove is ulcers on my throat that I get.

And how does that make you feel with, you know, the kind of negative results coming, a whole series of negative results coming back?

I mean, it’s a kind of Catch twenty-two, because it’s really good that there’s nothing showing up wrong, but then it would be nice if there was, they could have kind of, they could get answers to what is causing me to feel like this. It’s really, it’s bizarre.

But like I say, it’s good in a way, but then it’s bad in a way, as well.

It’s very frustrating.

 

Jamie wanted people to understand how frustrating Long Covid is. The physical and emotional symptoms make you feel “constantly down.”

Jamie wanted people to understand how frustrating Long Covid is. The physical and emotional symptoms make you feel “constantly down.”

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If you were meeting somebody who hadn’t really heard about Long Covid, or didn’t really believe in Long Covid, what would you most want them to know about the experience, Jamie?
 
Just how frustrating it is, Kate [name of interviewer]. Just, it is a real thing, and a lot of people are struggling with it. And it’s, it’s not just physical, it’s emotional, and it’s putting a lot of 
strain on relationships. Just that.
 
Yeah, so it sounds like it’s affecting all aspects, all aspects of your life.
 
Yeah. Yeah, it affects all, all aspects of your life, it’s not just the physical. I mean, that’s the worst part, I would say, definitely, it’s the feeling rubbish all the time. But it’s emotional, you start to feel better and then you feel rubbish again, and then you feel better, you feel rubbish again. It’s also the, the strain it puts on relationships with your family, because it makes you a different, I think it kind of changes your personality a bit, because you’re…constantly feeling down, and you’re not your usual self, and people, people in your family pick up on that, and it causes a lot of strain that, they ways, as well.
 
And are there times when you feel your old self coming back, or…?
 
I, like I said, at the weekend there, I was feeling a lot better. I feel like, I felt like my old self was coming back, and it, it just felt like it lifted everybody’s mood, a wee bit. And it was just like, this strain on everybody. It just, I think it just affects your whole family. It’s not just you, it’s, I think everybody picks up on it.

 

 

Jamie went to A&E for help when he had chest pain and breathlessness. He said he didn’t want to “pester the A&E team” but felt he was getting little support from his GP practice.

Jamie went to A&E for help when he had chest pain and breathlessness. He said he didn’t want to “pester the A&E team” but felt he was getting little support from his GP practice.

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And when you were first feeling so unwell, Jamie, did you first get in touch with your GP to talk about that, or did you go straight to the hospital?
 
I phoned up, 111, to be honest. Because the GPs weren’t seeing you, so it was kind of hard to really explain it to them over the phone, and I don’t think there was much they could really do for me, to be honest. Yeah, it was more the Covid Hub that I went to at first, and then I’d had a couple of visits to A&E because I had chest pain, and breathlessness, so I didn’t really know what was going on, I went to A&E. And again, all my stats were fine.
 
I felt like I was in a bit of a tough…I was somewhere in-between, like I shouldn’t be going to A&E because it wasn’t that severe, but my GP, at the same time, wasn’t really helpful, either. They just, they didn’t know what was going on, Kate [name of interviewer]. But I understand it was a new virus, so they didn’t have much info either. But it was a just a, I kind of felt a bit stuck in the middle of the two, if you know what I mean.
 
Yeah, yeah. And that must’ve raised a lot of difficult feelings at the time?
 
It was a really, I just felt really isolated, and…in a very lonely place, to be honest. I mean, I just felt I didn’t really have, l didn’t want to pester the A&E team, and my GP didn’t have any answers for me either, so I was kind of stuck in a hard place.

 

 

Jamie thought the people who didn’t believe in Long Covid thought that he was being a hypochondriac. Having Long Covid had opened his eyes to other people’s health struggles

Jamie thought the people who didn’t believe in Long Covid thought that he was being a hypochondriac. Having Long Covid had opened his eyes to other people’s health struggles

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But it’s one of the things, you don’t, I didn’t know what was going on at the time with my body either, so I didn’t have, I couldn’t go to my boss and say, look, this is what’s wrong with me, I need time off. Because, like, I just kind of felt generally unwell…
 
And how did you, did you discuss it at work?
 
Yeah, some of the people at my work, I spoke to my boss, and I spoke to my boss’ boss, my line manager, and his manager. And you kind of get different, some people just think, aye you’re a hypochondriac, there’s nothing wrong with you. And there’s people that don’t believe in Covid, still, you know what I mean [laugh]? So, it’s like, it’s quite frustrating. I mean, I’m lucky, my top line manager, he’s been really understanding about it. And I get the impression he believes me, and he’s been really good, he’s basically said, if you’re struggling let me know. He’s let me away for all my appointments, and stuff like that. But then you get others that are kind of old school, you’ve got guys that don’t believe in Covid, never mind Long Covid. So it’s like [laugh]. To be honest, Kate [name of interviewer], I was the kind of guy that, people with, like, ME and stuff like that, I’d have probably thought, oh they’re at it. But see now, this has opened my eyes to a lot of things. Poor people are struggling, I’ve realised that these people are struggling, and yeah. I used to, I don’t know, it’s kind of opened my eyes to a lot of things, this, a lot of health issues.

 

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