Fiona A

Fiona possibly had Covid twice, first in March 2020, when testing wasn’t available, and then in May 2020 when she tested positive. Her symptoms were more severe the second time. They included fever, loss of taste and smell, nausea, stomach pain, aching limbs, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. She took seven weeks off work and, due to being an agency-employed nurse, had no access to sick pay.

Fiona tries to have a positive mindset and focus on everything she can still do, rather than dwell on what she is now unable to do. Fiona was interviewed in January 2022.

Fiona was working for a nursing agency in care homes and hospices when she caught Covid. Before she had Covid she was fit and healthy and enjoyed travelling after many years of family caring responsibilities. She thinks she had Covid twice within two to three months early in the pandemic. It was more severe the second time. Her symptoms included fever, loss of taste and smell, nausea, stomach pain, aching limbs, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Fiona had to take three weeks off work the first time and seven weeks the second time. She did not get any sick pay. She felt very unwell and had to isolate on her own.

She was gentle with herself when she first returned to work. The nursing agency and the care homes were helpful in easing her back in. However, nearly two years on, Fiona works half as many hours per week as she used to before she got Covid.

Later in 2020, Fiona realised that she wasn’t getting better. Her ongoing symptoms include headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, fatigue, brain fog, and changes to taste and smell. She has had to learn to manage day-day life differently. She uses a stool in the kitchen to sit down while cooking and finds that having a daily nap and going to bed early helps manage her fatigue. She has also noticed that her coping mechanisms have changed and she is more emotional than she used to be. Her brain fog affects her memory and ability to remember events and words, making her wonder whether she has had early signs of dementia because she previously had such a good memory.

For months Fiona tried to push herself before realising she must pace her activities. After experiencing some improvement in her symptoms, Fiona feels she has hit a plateau. She finds it helpful to focus on a ‘glass half full’ mentality and to remember that she’s not old, and she maintains a positive mindset by focussing on what she’s still able to do. Having seen people die from Covid, she is grateful that she survived Covid.

Fiona praised the local Covid team that she phoned when she was initially ill. However, she has found it difficult to get support or follow-up from her GPs and feels “hugely angry” that they have taken no responsibility for her. They have not investigated her symptoms or followed her up after hip and hand surgery. She said the GPs’ receptionists had been helpful. She described herself as “DIY GP-ing” using her nursing experience. She said accessing help and treatment for Long Covid must be awful for people who have no medical knowledge. Fiona has been referred to Speech and Language Therapy for delayed swallowing. She would like to see the introduction of Long Covid clinics in Scotland so that she can get a general check-up.

Fiona has found two friends and her sister particularly supportive and understanding. She is a member of a Facebook Long Covid support group but removed herself from another group because she found it too negative. She has found some scientific webinars helpful too. She stressed the need for integrated Long Covid clinics in Scotland.