Diane, her husband, and their youngest daughter had Covid during the Delta variant in early December 2021. At the time, their two older children did not have any symptoms and had a negative PCR test. Diane and her husband had a persistent cough, which for her husband continued until mid-January but it finally went when they had their third booster Covid vaccine and they both felt much better. Diane continues to have limited sense of smell and taste which returns fleetingly. She remains optimistic that it will return. She is grateful that this is the only Long Covid symptom they have as a family. Diane was interviewed in March 2022.

In early December, Diane’s youngest daughter became ill with a cough, temperature, and headache. Over the course of a few days Diane felt dizzy and had an upset stomach. A PCR test confirmed they both had Covid. She describes it as “that dreaded date” that sticks in her mind. Diane’s symptoms continued to worsen, and she developed a persistent cough, achy limbs, a temperature, and a headache and lost her sense of taste and smell. Her two other children and husband had negative PCR tests. As a family they isolated in different parts of their house and used separate bathrooms and tried to keep their other two children as much in their normal routine as possible. They spent a considerable amount of time isolated in their bedrooms.

Two days later, her husband developed a continuous cough, and she heard him collapse on the floor in the middle of the night. A positive PCR test result showed he also now had Covid. Diane described it as a “scary time” because they were both so unwell, but their children still needed looking after and pet dog had to be walked. Having previously worked as an intensive care nurse, she started to fear whether they might need to go to hospital or might even die. She says of having Covid: “it was difficult from a psychological perspective as well as a physically.” No relatives lived nearby to help out either. Plus, risk of passing Covid on would have been too high.

During the course of their illness, Diane continued to cook (wearing a mask indoors) and look after their older children which was difficult to manage. She said, “I’m normally fighting fit and, you know, full of energy…but it just floored us.” Her and her husband took turmeric, ginger, garlic, and Vitamin D to try to boost their immune systems. A trip to Spain she had been looking forward to had to be cancelled and Christmas was mostly spent recovering. In early January, the couple still felt tired. Their youngest daughter recovered fairly quickly, though.

For many weeks, Diane and her husband had a persistent cough. They tried lots of remedies including honey and gargles, but it was not until mid-January that her husband’s cough settled when he had his third Covid booster vaccine. Both Diane and her husband felt somewhat better after that and their energy levels have been regained.

Diane lost her sense of taste and smell which has lasted long term. Occasionally she can smell or taste things but only fleetingly. She couldn’t taste a strong spicy chilli that her daughter cooked and when cooking herself, she relies on others to tell her how it tastes. She misses not being able to taste food as she describes herself as a “big foodie” and no longer feels it is worth going out to eat at restaurants.

She hasn’t sought medical advice for her loss of taste and smell because she says it doesn’t affect her that much and it is not as bad as what others with Long Covid are experiencing. Most people she knows have not been too concerned about her loss of smell and taste. Her mum is the only one who questions how she can still have this symptom so long afterwards. Diane has been advised by a friend who is Advanced Nurse Practitioner working in the Ear Nose and Throat specialty to do ongoing taste and smelling exercises on herself. She remains optimistic that her sense of smell and taste will keep improving over the next few months.

Her eldest daughter had Covid in October and experienced severe headaches but has now recovered. Her son hasn’t had Covid. All three children have been vaccinated now.

Diane is grateful for the Covid vaccines and that as a family they are “fairly back to normal,” apart from her loss of sense of taste and smell. She has a fear of catching Covid again because of the impact it could have on her family again.

Diane used the NHS website and looked at academic papers to find information about ongoing loss of taste and smell.

Age at interview 47

Diane had not spoken to the GP about her loss of taste, as she didn’t think it was ‘serious enough.’

Age at interview 47

Diane, a parent who lost her sense of taste, is concerned about long-term effects such as early-onset diabetes.

Age at interview 47

Age and ethnicity were factors that Diane was aware of when considering reinfection and the effect on her family.

Age at interview 47