Gerda became ill in the early days of the national lockdown in March 2020. She wasn’t tested until three months later, and both that and an antigen test came back negative. She was initially very poorly with fatigue, breathing and fainting symptoms but recovered slightly before relapsing. Gerda was bedbound for months with extreme fatigue and breathing problems and was unable to walk or care for her children. She felt disbelieved by health professionals, and it took a while to convince her GP her symptoms weren’t just anxiety. She was referred to a Long Covid clinic in October 2020 and found the aftercare sessions helpful, especially the pacing. It was only after an MRI scan that she showed heart inflammation, pericarditis and decreased lung capacity that she feels she finally proved that she was ill and has Long Covid. Gerda has started to improve but has to pace herself. She was interviewed in November 2021.

Gerda began experiencing Covid symptoms at the start of the UK national lockdown at the end of March 2020. It started with a weird fainting sensation and then struggling to breathe but only for 15-20 minutes at a time. She contacted 111 but, as she didn’t have a temperature or a cough, they didn’t think it was Covid. The doctors said if her lips were not turning blue or her tongue wasn’t swelling “you’re OK, you can manage at home.” She felt really poorly during this time and her partner looked after the children. After a few weeks Gerda was improving and was able to walk slowly round the park and do gentle yoga. Then three weeks on her breathing rapidly deteriorated, she couldn’t lie down at night and she couldn’t move, needing assistance to go to the toilet. These symptoms persisted and three months on she was so fatigued she couldn’t walk.

Gerda didn’t feel believed by the doctors she had seen, who blamed anxiety. Around this time she also had a Covid test and an antigen test, but both were negative “which, I think made my doctor believe even more that what I was experiencing was anxiety.” But five months on her doctor was reconsidering as he said, “there’s a lot of other people actually who are getting a similar thing” and it was starting to be discussed as Long Covid in the press and online. Gerda said, “I knew I was poorly, but it was, like, trying to prove to people that I was poorly.” She previously had been the main caregiver for her children, but she was unable to so. The children popped in an out of her bedroom for short periods to see her.

After the first national lockdown, when her children returned to school before the summer break, they both got sick with high temperatures and headaches. She believes they caught Covid and both have had ongoing post viral symptoms (headaches, rashes, nosebleeds). In October 2020 she was referred by her GP to a Long Covid clinic. Gerda found some of the advice on pacing helpful.

By the end of 2020 Gerda had started to improve slightly, her breathing was better, and she could do a little more about the house, but walking was still a struggle, and she got a wheelchair to aid mobility. This allowed her to participate more and have days out with the children. With the help of pacing, she can now cook and do more around the house and with the children and has started getting stronger in her yoga practice.

Being believed was a real problem and stress for Gerda, and she feels that it’s only after having an MRI scan that showed heart inflammation, pericarditis and decreased lung capacity that she has finally proved that she has Long Covid.