Many months after having Covid, Tom still has brain fog and ‘crippling’ fatigue. He has had to make major changes to his life and his work. The health system was slow to recognise his condition. He identified a real need for specialist Long Covid clinics in his area. Tom was interviewed in August 2021.

Before he was ill with Covid, Tom had a demanding job and managed a large team. He really enjoyed his challenging job and had a very good memory. He had never been seriously ill before and never had a day off for illness.

In March 2020, Tom developed symptoms after sharing a taxi with someone who developed Covid. He didn’t feel particularly unwell and was able to keep working. After a month, he felt he had recovered, although he still had some tightness in his chest and a bit of a cough which lingered for the next few months.

In September 2020, Tom was suddenly hit with crippling fatigue and brain fog. He tried to struggle on but had to be signed off work for five weeks. Although he didn’t feel better, he wanted to return to work, initially on flexible hours. He found he wasn’t able to continue with his mentally demanding job and started part-time hours. He has been given very good support by his employer. He says they have been ‘superb’ from the beginning

Tom describes his illness as ‘life-changing’. His crippling fatigue affects his memory and concentration. He can only work for short periods and is about to give up work completely to focus on getting better. He usually feels fine when he first wakes up, but any mental (or physical) exercise triggers his fatigue. He often is struggling by midday. If he tries to push himself through his fatigue he gets worse and can experience complete memory blocks. He has learnt he needs to stop and rest as soon as he feels tired so he can keep functioning. Learning to ‘pace’ is ‘the single best piece of advice’ he’s been given.

He has felt well supported by friends, family and work, but said his GP was limited help. He recognises that the health service is under strain and Covid is ‘new’, but he has had to ‘push’ to get medical help. He felt some doctors were nervous about labelling his illness Long Covid. He feels lucky to have been able to access private healthcare through work. He’s seen several specialists and had investigations which ruled out other causes for his symptoms. A respiratory specialist said he ‘didn’t believe in Long Covid’. After more tests, a neurologist confirmed his Long Covid diagnosis. The best source of information was an occupational health worker who was ‘really on the ball’. She pointed him to useful sources on how to pace himself. He is gradually able to do more physical exercise but too much brain work still ‘wipes him out’.

He is conscious that Long Covid can take different forms and is aware there is huge variation in how individual GPs respond to patients with Long Covid.  For him, the lack of medical support whilst his life has been ‘turned upside down’ by Long Covid has been very difficult. He sees a real need for a specialist Long Covid clinic in his area.