At the start of the school year (September 2021), Rosie was in close contact with a friend at school who tested positive for Covid. She then realised she had lost her sense of taste and so self-isolated for 10 days but had two negative PCR tests. After isolating Rosie developed many symptoms including dizziness, noise and light sensitivity, concentration problems and extreme fatigue, which have persisted, and she has been unable to return to school fulltime. Rosie was interviewed in December 2021.

At the start of the school year (September 2021), Rosie was in close contact with a friend at school who tested positive for Covid. She realised she had lost her sense of taste and so self-isolated for 10 days but had two negative PCR tests. She was planning to go back to school after isolating but fainted and developed more and more symptoms, so she stayed off school for further two weeks. She tried to return to school on multiple occasions but continued to feel faint and dizzy. Blood tests by the GP came back clear, but her GP thought she might have Long Covid.

Rosie finds the mornings the most difficult. Her dizziness improves during the day, but she has to manage her energy levels carefully and has to rest even after “just getting up and eating breakfast.” She needs frequent rests between short activities. Rosie finds listening to audio books of stories she knows helpful, as she already knows what is happening but still feels she is using her brain. She really struggles with reading. She and her dad have connected with a Facebook group for Long Covid to connect and share with people who know exactly how it feels.

Rosie has three younger sisters and an older brother, and she feels “it’s definitely been different around the house. They’ve had to be a lot quieter because I’m really sensitive to noise and light, so we’d have to be eating dinner with candles instead of the kitchen light on.” Rosie doesn’t have the energy for long walks or board games. She shares a room with one of her sisters and a lot of time she is resting so her sister can’t be in there – the lights have to be on low or a green light, so her sister has to do her homework somewhere else.

She has had a lot of appointments with different doctors and feels some of them seem to grasp the concept of Long Covid more than others. Her physio didn’t really believe in how she was feeling because she had had a negative PCR test for Covid, and she find this quite frustrating.

She had her first vaccination a week before catching Covid but has since had her second vaccine and booster. She felt more muscle pain a couple of days after the second vaccine but no other noticeable changes.

Rosie has been able to return to school recently but only for art classes as she doesn’t feel she can concentrate on other lessons due to her symptoms and brain fog. She is trying to get back to her other classes and her teachers have posted work on Google classroom but so far, she has been unable to do it. Her art teacher “came up with the idea of basing my whole art project around Long Covid, because we have a theme of fragmented, so that works quite well with how my life is at the moment, compared to how it used to be.”

Before Covid, Rosie was an active Irish dancer who competed in competitions. She still goes to classes but just to watch and see her friends dance. She feels too exhausted all the time to participate. Her friends have been supportive and have visited but “they can’t get like the full picture because they don’t know how it feels.” She tries to go in a bit early to her art class at school so she can catch up with them over lunch. In our interview, Rosie hoped to be able to do her AS levels but thought she may have to resit them the following year. She worries about being behind a year in school and in a different class to her friends and missing out.

Rosie since achieved a B grade in her AS art but could not manage the other two subjects.  The school were unable to accommodate her doing one subject for A2 level, so she has had to leave and now studies Art and Design at a further Education College in Belfast.  It is hard work getting there and back but she is just about managing.

On 1 December, she has the opening of a Long Covid Kids art exhibition in Northern Ireland.

Rosie joined a group with her dad and appreciated the connections with others who ‘properly understand.’

Age at interview 16

Rosie felt upset when she thought she might drop a year behind all her friends at school. She missed not being able to do “everything I want to do.”

Age at interview 16

Rosie said her teachers were understanding, particularly her art teacher who helped her work out what she still needed to do for her AS level qualification.

Age at interview 16

Rosie said that some doctors ‘seem to grasp the concept…more than others.’ She was frustrated that her physiotherapist appeared fixated on the lack of a positive Covid test result.

Age at interview 16

Rosie felt her dizziness was worst in the morning. It would get better across the day depending on how much energy she had.

Age at interview 16