Christian described his symptoms as “incredibly mild” when he caught Covid in March 2020. As time went by he became less and less “capable and able” and by the summer he had breathlessness and fatigue. An antibody test in June confirmed he had had Covid. By September, his fatigue and breathlessness had become worse. He was largely bedbound, sleeping most of the time, finding it incredibly difficult to breathe, and only working online for two hours a week because he was too fatigued to do any more. Since then, through doing breathing exercises and using an inhaler, his breathlessness has improved. Christian proactively manages his fatigue by deciding each day what to spend his energy on so that he can be in better health to look after his young child and help his wife. He now works four days a week in an administrative job with a day off midweek to rest. Christian was interviewed in March 2022.

Christian was working as a primary school teacher when he developed Covid in March 2020. His wife, who was pregnant, also developed Covid at the same time. He said his initial illness “was incredibly mild” in that he didn’t feel the need to take paracetamol. As time went by he became more breathless, with fatigue and brain fog, to the point where he was largely bedbound and sleeping most of the time. In September, he went to his doctor and had several tests including a chest X-ray which showed nothing. His doctor diagnosed him with Long Covid and said that other people were experiencing the same symptoms.

For a few months Christian got mildly better but it was very much day to day. In November, his baby was born and he says the adrenaline got him through the next few months but by the beginning of 2021 he was bedbound again. He got in contact with the Long Covid services in his local area which helped him to work out how to manage his fatigue.

Since then, Christian has been working on managing his breathing. Through a course with the English National Opera, recommended to him by the Long Covid unit, and with the use of an inhaler, his breathlessness is gradually improving. He has noticed an improvement after each Covid vaccination as well.

Christian feels his life “has been completely turned upside down” by having Long Covid; he can no longer work as a teacher and he has an administrative job four days a week, with a day off mid-week to rest. He says, “I used to have a career, now I’d say I have a job.”

Long Covid has affected what he can do with his daughter; he gets very tired and can only manage two half hour walks a week where he pushes his daughter in her pushchair without having any adverse effects. The rest of the time he says his life is very sedentary which is not how it used to be. He says “it’s deeply saddening seeing a picture of her on our friend’s shoulders at a farm instead of mine.” He plays with his daughter on the floor to conserve his energy because he knows any more exertion will have a detrimental effect on his ability to work or help his wife with caring for their child or their home. Christian says his wife is exhausted and it’s “a real strain” on her as she works full time as a teacher and is caring for their young child.

Christian has realised that he has to actively manage his fatigue. At first when he started feeling better he would go back to how he used to be, being very proactive and working hard but then realised he was having one good day followed by two or three bad days. Now, he’s changed how he approaches his day. He’s eliminated all exercise because it wipes him out. He can manage one social interaction a week. Some weeks he chooses not to have the social interaction so that he can have better health to spend with his wife and daughter. His days are a balance between not doing something one day so he can look after his daughter the next.

Christian has tried to learn as much as he can about Long Covid through articles in open access medical journals to find out the most up-date information. He tries not to think about the future but he would like to be the father he envisioned he would be, although he does not currently feel hopeful that there will be a change in his condition.

Christian’s advice to other people managing Long Covid with a young family is to try and manage your life in a way that you strip away all non-essentials, and to work out what is most important to you and how to prioritise that. For Christian, his daughter and wife are what’s important to him and he makes time spent with them his priority.