Maryam’s whole household fell ill with Covid around November or December 2021. She tells us that her son was the first to become ill with Covid symptoms, with the rest of the family getting sick a few days afterwards. Everybody was feverish and in pain; “We couldn’t even walk.” She says that afterwards the children still felt “…really weak. They’re really tired, like a fatigue, headaches.” Maryam says, “I’m not that person that I used to be. I was really fit woman. I was instructor, I teach exercise.” She also comments, “I’m still suffering. It’s like Covid killed me. It’s like inside, you know?” Maryam was interviewed in June 2022.

After getting Covid in late 2021, Maryam’s whole family are now dealing with Long Covid symptoms. Maryam and her husband have four children; she says they were happy children but now they all have anxiety and suffer mood swings. She says that they go to school and are also taking part in PE lessons, but when they come home they complain about fatigue, headaches, stomach ache, leg pain, and body aches. Before getting Covid, they were a really active family, going for one-hour walks each day, plus regularly doing activities such as cycling, swimming and going to the gym. This all changed when the family found themselves suffering from fatigue. The children now feel tired after just fifteen minutes of swimming or walking, and her husband has also stopped going to the gym every day.

Maryam explains that she sometimes needs to collect her thirteen-year-old daughter from school when she has a headache. She took her daughter to their GP, but when a blood test to check her Vitamin D and iron levels came back normal, the GP told her that “everything is okay” and advised to take paracetamol. Maryam said that the GP explained to her that sometimes children experience long term symptoms after getting Covid and said that “it’s going to go away soon.”

Maryam feels that it’s important for her to keep her children “moving all the time.” To help distract them from pain and offer her children a different activity, she got them a cat, which they enjoy playing with and giving treats to. Maryam says that the cat relieves her stress and is helping the children with their mental health a lot, cheering them up as well as offering them a distraction from the TV, iPad, and games console. Maryam has noticed her children are also socialising more as siblings when playing with the cat.

Maryam explains that before Covid she would be seeing clients or teaching four or five exercise classes every day. After getting Covid, she now feels tired after three. Her husband is a contract worker, and the family is relying on him more now financially. With food, electric, and gas prices all going up, Maryam admits that they are struggling, “sometimes hands to mouth,” and that it is causing them stress and anxiety. They have had to cancel a holiday to Turkey and Pakistan to visit family (Maryam’s mother lives is in Pakistan). When the children enquired why they weren’t going to see “Nanny or Grandma,” this year, they opted to tell them it was because they were, “not feeling well. Dad is working. No day off.”

Maryam says that there were changes to the family’s religious activities during the pandemic – they would read with a teacher on an online Zoom call instead of going to the mosque. Now she says that she is trying to take them to the mosque again after school; however, since getting Covid, the children are finding two hours of mosque after school is too much for them. Maryam says, “So we’re stuck now. That’s why we do the online for half an hour.” Maryam would prefer to go in person: “As a Muslim we should go to the mosque and do the prayer there… and it’s a proper way they teach face-to-face.” She also feels that they are missing out on seeing their friends at the mosque. Maryam feels that doing everything on a gadget is not good for the children – or anyone.

Maryam says that some of her friends complain about Long Covid as well. “They do understand. Sometimes they do help and it’s not easy for everyone.” She says that “everyone believes,” and no one around her is skeptical about Long Covid. Maryam has searched online for information about Long Covid, including the NHS website, but she mentions that searching and reading things online can sometimes cause her more anxiety.

Maryam and her husband are both fully vaccinated. She said she had a Covid vaccination, and has since had another after getting Covid. She says, “it’s not that you’re going to have a jab and you’re not going to have the Covid, the symptoms was really bad.” Maryam’s 13-year-old daughter has only had one vaccine; they have felt “scared” that her current Long Covid symptoms may worsen if she has another jab, but she may let her get one. Her other children were too young to be eligible for vaccination at time of interview, as they were under twelve years of age.

Maryam thinks that some talking therapy would be helpful for the healing process from Long Covid. She says that her children now wear masks at school and use sanitizer, and they would probably advise other children to do the same.

Maryam does not want to pass on her stress and anxiety about finances to her children.

Maryam’s family used to enjoy walking, cycling and swimming together, but now feels that their ongoing Covid symptoms prevent them from going back to their normal lives.

Maryam’s children started attending religious services online because of lockdown, but have had to continue as going to the mosque after school is now too tiring for them with Long Covid.

Maryam says getting a cat has been good for her children and is helping with their (and her own) mental health.