Sara developed Covid symptoms in March 2020 around the same time as her husband and daughter. While her husband bounced back, Sara and her daughter didn’t recover for a long time. Sara didn’t feel listened to by health professionals and is worried about trying for another baby. Sara was interviewed in November 2021.

Sara developed Covid symptoms around the same time as her husband and then 6-year-old daughter, although her 4-year-old son didn’t seem to get the virus. Sara “realised something was wrong” two weeks after getting ill when she still felt really unwell. She phoned 111 but felt that it was a “horrible experience” as she had to wait for hours. Sara also phoned her GP and got a call back from the “nice doctor”, who happened to be self-isolating at the time and called her every few days to make sure she was alright.

He also sent her to A&E three times, but Sara was sent home each time and called “hysterical”. Doctors at A&E thought Sara’s concerns were because she was too “highly educated” and monitoring her health too much. She was advised to rest and “stop harassing them”. Sara has a PhD so she changed her title in her medical records to “Dr”. She felt that interactions with healthcare staff were better after that but felt that it was ridiculous that she had to change her title to be treated with respect. When her concerns were being respected, doctors thought that Sara might have a virus like glandular fever (also known as mono) or CMV because they thought Covid only affected people for a short time.

After a couple of months, Sara started to feel “more alive” but found that home schooling her children and going back to work took her energy away again. Sara worked remotely but even joining meetings online left her feeling exhausted. After the government announced that “critical activities” could continue and Sara’s work required her to go back to the office, she found the ten-minute walk to work “a huge effort”. Being this tired made Sara feel that she couldn’t “be [a] patient parent… [or] good home schooler”, not helped by being in pain all the time and she felt “a lot of guilt” about how Long Covid affected her family.

Childcare was difficult during the pandemic, Sara and her husband had to pay hundreds of pounds for a childminder when they were both expected to go into work for three days. Sara had hoped that the school would accept their children, but they were turned down because Sara and her husband weren’t classed as key workers. Sara found this really difficulty and was “falling to pieces”.

Sara’s parents lived in another country so she found it hard not having her parents there to help with childcare. Sara felt that women were disadvantaged during the pandemic because there was an expectation that they would do the domestic work, childcare, and still work in their jobs too. Sara’s found it especially hard knowing that she can’t take the medicine which helps her Long Covid if she becomes pregnant; she struggled with wanting to expand her family and not knowing if she could survive a pregnancy with Long Covid.

Sara had been referred to a Long Covid Clinic but when it finally opened, she was disappointed with the service. Sara felt that there should be specialists from more than one area observing patients so they could get the care they need. However, she is starting to recover more and felt like she was “80%” back to normal after getting the right pain management medication from the GP (after a few different attempts) and an inhaler from a specialist in the Long Covid clinic (after several trial and error attempts) – which she called “a miracle”. Sara’s glad that there is more awareness of Long Covid both in public and in medicine. However, she’s “furious” with the anti-vax movement and government advice not to self-isolate if you’re under 18-years old.