Poppy developed Covid symptoms in late April 2020, but they got worse around September. Poppy has previously recovered from ME over 20 years ago and is optimistic about recovering from Long Covid too, but she doesn’t know when. Poppy was interviewed in November 2021.

Poppy kept working as a train driver when the first lockdown started in March 2020, but had to stop when she developed Covid symptoms at the end of April 2020. A month after her first symptoms, she suspected that she had Long Covid – so she kept “pestering” her doctor about getting a diagnosis. While Poppy’s GP only added fatigue and breathlessness to her notes, the occupational health doctor she saw through her employer recognised that Poppy “ticked all the boxes” for Long Covid.

When Poppy was referred to a Long Covid clinic, it was virtual – where a nurse referred her to other specialists – unlike some of the face-face clinics, which she had heard good things about. A respiratory physiotherapist gave her exercises, but couldn’t see that Poppy was struggling with them. Poppy feels that in-person clinics would have been better because the physiotherapist could have checked her breathing better than on an online call. She was discharged when she couldn’t do the exercises set by the physiotherapist. She tried to “power through” but found that “pushing it is the very worst thing you can do”. Poppy has also been diagnosed with PoTS, and finds that exercises make her feel worse.

Poppy hasn’t been able to go back to work because she hasn’t recovered. She was receiving statutory sick pay, and topped this money up with her disability benefit for Long Covid. She has since lost her job. Poppy is thankful to the charity volunteer who helped her claim the disability benefit.

Long Covid has impacted Poppy’s family life too, as she feels that it stops her from being “a proper mother”. She thinks that her teenage son is coping well but also feels that seeing his mum get sick overnight has been hard. Her son had his GCSEs interrupted by the lockdowns, and she feels that his head wasn’t in the right place when he started sixth form. Poppy feels that him seeing her sick has helped him follow his dream of training to be a paratrooper sooner rather than later.

Poppy feels that being in a wheelchair since developing Long Covid has made her invisible to people, and is upset that she now is unable to cook or play the baritone horn like she used to. However, she still sings in a choir which continued over zoom during the lockdowns, and she uses an app to stay mentally active. She is optimistic about getting better, but she doesn’t know when.