Ada got Covid in early 2020 and began showing signs of Long Covid, which she thinks were exacerbated after getting her vaccine in June 2021. Each time she has had a vaccine, her symptoms get worse. Ada feels as if she is ‘a completely different person’ and has struggled mentally with the change. She’s no longer able to be as involved in her children’s lives or as active in her community. However, she feels that Ramadan has helped her to heal mentally, and she is trying to focus on what she can do now rather than what she used to be able to do. Ada was interviewed in May 2022.
Ada caught Covid in early 2020. Ada suspects that her Long Covid “symptoms were exacerbated” after she had the vaccine in June 2021, because catching “Covid itself had drained me.” Ada’s family members all bounced back within ten days to two weeks, but she did not. She feels that “quite instantly” after having the vaccine she started feeling extremely lethargic, suffering migraines and losing her appetite. She says that the most significant change was her peers and friends at the gym and her personal trainer noticing that she was struggling. Ada felt that this was probably due to Covid “taking a toll.”
Ada was also getting some shoulder pain and assumed that she’d pulled a muscle from too much housework during lockdown. After she had spoken to a doctor about Covid, however, Ada was told by the doctor that “lots of patients” had been mentioning shoulder pain or chest pain, and as a result Ada decided it was probably down to that and to wait a while to recover. The shoulder pain kept on, however, as did the feeling of being, “completely lethargic and losing interest.”
On advice, and her own judgement, she went for a booster jab a few months later, following which her symptoms “only got worse.” She had another booster vaccine in January of the following year, which she feels left her “with a lot of pain in my knees, in my joints, my ankles and my back.” She says she cannot even go for a walk due to experiencing an immense amount of pain in her knees. Ada describes needing to call an ambulance after one booster jab, after suffering possible heart attack or blood clot symptoms. She says, “I feel bad having to call the paramedics, knowing what’s going on. But then at the end of the day, I don’t ever want to neglect it.”
She made another appointment with her GP, and when the nurse asked her how her life had changed since having Covid, Ada broke down and said that it’s “just as if I’m a completely different person.” The nurse was very understanding and told Ada that she was “not alone, there’s lots of people struggling.” Ada found this helpful and felt some reassurance and relief at hearing these words from a health professional. The nurse also pointed Ada towards information about chronic fatigue and Long Covid.
Ada describes herself as a person who had “no medical problems on paper” and says that in life she’s generally been “the last one to get ill” amongst her family and friends. She has always “mustered through” illness, but now after Covid it’s like she can now “feel every ache and pain.” She has struggled with insomnia and has gained some weight. She feels depressed, anxious and “constantly worried” and it has been a horrible experience because she knows she shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Ada comes from a large Muslim family and was a well-known person in her community. Prior to catching Covid she was a very social person, organising social events and days out, and volunteering for things. She says, “I was always one of those people who would be at the forefront with the most energy.” However, now she has withdrawn from social gatherings and meetings, and she reports that her friends have told her that she “doesn’t look well.” At one stage Ada felt herself barely able to get out of bed, answer phone calls, or speak to or visit her parents. “I would just about greet my kids, give them their food, come back up[stairs].” Ada’s husband was left to watch the kids and run the house.
Ada’s children are concerned for her and don’t like to disturb her when she is resting or beg their mum to do things in case it’s “too much for her.” She feels doesn’t have as much energy for her children anymore, and feels she has “missed out so much,” when it comes to spending time with her children. Her in-laws – who live with them in a separate but connected flat – have helped hugely with looking after them. Ada feels extremely lucky to have such a supportive family and network of people around her.
Ada’s GP has told her that she has Long Covid, and she is medically registered as having it. Her GP also thinks that she may be depressed, and that Covid may have led her into the depression. Ada says that she was prescribed some antidepressants, but she did not take them; she says she was tempted but is happy she didn’t.
One thing that recently helped Ada heal mentally was Ramadan. She says it really helped her “anxiety abate.” She says that “just being able to go to the mosque and meditate and be there was amazing.” The family had quiet and relaxed Eid celebrations this year compared with previous years, but this still left her feeling exhausted.
Ada says that she despises the words “Long Covid” because she “doesn’t know what they mean. It’s like this dark hole. You’re saying something that is so alien to me.” Ada says that she is only very recently just “beginning to find” herself again, some months after her last booster jab. She says that Ramadan helped uplift her mood, and that her going to prayer at the mosque on the morning of the interview gave her enough boost to be able to do this interview with the researcher. She has also recently been to the gym with a friend and is not going to look back at what she used to be able to physically do but focus on what she can do now.