Zubair had Covid in March 2020. He had mild symptoms of fever, loss of smell, and a temperature. Since then his health has deteriorated. He has muscle pain at night, some hearing loss, and a change in his eyesight. The muscle pain badly affects his ability to sleep at night which makes it difficult to function during the day. His employer has been very supportive. Zubair was referred for physiotherapy and to the rheumatologist but the pain is becoming worse. He is currently on the waiting list for the pain clinic and is waiting on the results of an MRI. He would like to see greater recognition and support for muscle pain as a Long Covid symptom in the Long Covid clinics. Zubair was interviewed in May 2022.

Zubair had Covid in 2020 and had mild symptoms of fever, loss of smell, and a temperature. An antibody test taken at a later date showed he had had Covid.

Since having Covid, Zubair’s health has deteriorated. He has muscle pain at night in his hip/pelvic area which badly affects his sleep as he has to keep turning over to relieve the pain. The pain is so bad at night that he has to use two hands to support himself as he turns and it’s very hard to get out of bed because of the pain. He wears a pelvic and thigh compression belt for sleeping at night which helps with the pain.

His GP prescribed naproxen, but the pain was becoming worse so he contacted the GP again who referred Zubair to the physiotherapist. He had exercises explained over a video call but they haven’t helped. He was then referred to the rheumatologist and had an X-ray but nothing showed up. His GP prescribed steroid injections but when he saw the doctor who would be giving the steroid injections he told Zubair that it wouldn’t work in the place the pain was, so was referred back to GP and referred to the pain clinic.

While Zubair’s GP is supportive, he told Zubair he can only refer him to a pain clinic as the Long Covid clinic is for people with long term breathing problems, not pain management. Zubair would like to see Long Covid clinics include support for other symptoms of Long Covid such as muscle pain. At the time of the interview, Zubair was waiting to be seen at the pain clinic and receive the results of an MRI. Since the interview, Zubair reports multiple further investigations and treatments (such as an epidural and a Qutenza patch) for the pain. None have worked, however, and Zubair believes this is because the pain is Long Covid related. Zubair’s quality of life is worse and he feels mentally drained because of pain and lack of sleep.

Zubair also has a change in his eyesight since having Covid and some hearing loss which was confirmed in a hearing test and eye test and he now wears glasses. He now experiences short term memory loss and has to write things down. Zubair had an antibody test taken in July which showed he had had Covid. He thinks he may have had Covid again in Winter 2021/2022, although he can’t be sure because although he had Covid symptoms, his antigen tests were negative.

Zubair’s employer has been very supportive with allowing him flexibility around how he completes his work if he has been affected by lack of sleep. He has been working from home for the last two years. Without a supportive employer Zubair says it would have been hard to work full time.

Zubair goes to prayers at the mosque and helps at his community foodbank, but otherwise he says he isn’t as active as he used to be. Zubair is supporting his wife and son who have long term medical conditions that limit their ability to do things outside the home. He says it is distressing to know he is now also ill and the pain and the lack of sleep is getting worse. He copes with the pain by distracting himself. If he is not working, or supporting his wife and son, he helps at his local foodbank which was set up in 2020 and has become a “community hub” for people.

He knows that understanding of Long Covid is new and developing and it’s still being understood how Long Covid affects people. He also understands that the focus of healthcare so far has been on Covid and developing a vaccine. He learns about Long Covid on medical websites and on the news. Zubair is a Covid Health Champion for his local Public Health team. He receives information from them about Covid and passes it to people in his local community. He also shares as much information as he can with people through WhatsApp as he wants to raise awareness of Long Covid. He finds if he talks about his experiences others share theirs too.