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The human impact of Long Covid can be devastating. Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s (CHSS) Long Covid Support Service can provide help living with the most common symptoms like breathlessness and fatigue – and help your wellbeing. CHSS’s Clinical Advisor, GP Dr Amy Small is living with Long Covid. As part of our partnership with the charity, she shares her experience of Long Covid and her advice to people living with condition.

Everything I took for granted: the ability to sleep, eat, think and breathe changed for me.

I caught COVID at work in April 2020. I was working during a pandemic in a health care setting. I was doing my duty. I was fulfilling my vocation. I caught COVID at work and passed it onto my family and both my husband and I now suffer from long COVID.

We went from fit and healthy 39-year-olds, working full time, we were running several times a week, looking after our very young children, to being shells of ourselves - our health robbed from us. We went from fit and healthy individuals, who did our daily exercise, painted rainbows on our windows and clapped on Thursdays, to individuals who had to summon every last drop of energy to go and put Disney plus on to entertain our children so we could go back to bed. Everything we took for granted: the ability to sleep, eat, think and breathe changed for us.

We did not seek help in the early days. We stayed at home like we were told to. We could not get help to look after our children so we had to carry on and cobble together the little energy and resource we had to get through every day.

After a month of fever I was seen at the hospital. I was told there were others like me but no one knew what to do with us. They would phone me in 3 months to see how I was getting on.

My husband and I struggled, trying in bursts to cook, clean, home-school our children but ultimately “pushing through” as we always had which made us worse.

I tried to go back to work after 3 months. Half a day of seeing patients left me bed bound for over a week. My jaw was too sore to chew even cereal. I could hardly lift my arm to drink. One day I was too fatigued to speak. This from the person who burnt the candle at both ends for 15 years as a doctor; this from the person who had stayed up nights on end with young children; this from the person who could never stop talking!

Long Covid turned my life upside down.

After 6 months of illness, as a consequence of being unable to fulfil my partnership duties at work I was expelled from my practice. My partners were worried I would be disabled for life with ME or chronic fatigue syndrome. We were about to head from a household of 2 incomes, to half of my husband’s as he too had been unable to work for 6 months.

Around this time, I discovered that quite simple medication would be a huge turning point for me and this illness. If I had seen someone, early on in my journey, who knew about long covid, the potential secondary effects and how to manage it, I never would have lost my job.

I never would have been in the position to call upon a charity to help me to find out how I was going to pay the bills should I remain unwell. I never would have had to leave the job and community that I loved and worked so hard for, for over 10 years.

My advice to anyone living with Long Covid

My experience of Long Covid has been a horrible rollercoaster; trying things that didn’t work out and battling to be believed. But I also learned things along the way that might help others. So, here’s my advice:

Pace yourself – Listen to your body and don’t overdo it.

What you eat and drink is important – Refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol can really impact on fatigue and inflammation in your body. So, cutting out things like sweets and cakes or drinking de-caffeinated and non-alcoholic drinks could help.

Ask for help – Having a support network really helps. Speak to your friends and family and use the support services out there. CHSS has a great support group. Email CHSS to meet up virtually with others living with Long Covid.

Call the Long Covid Advice Line – There are health professionals on the end of the phone who can give you advice on managing symptoms like breathlessness, pacing and fatigue management. You can call them free on 0808 801 0899 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. They can also help you prepare for consultations with your GP or clinics, so you get the best out of them.

Track your symptoms alongside your activity levels – This sounds like a lot of effort but is worth it. By keeping a diary of when your symptoms get better and worse you might start to see patterns that help you plan your day.

Don’t give up – It might be hard to get tests you need. Speak to your GP and they should support you in making sure that you get the proper medical investigations. Make a list of your symptoms and the questions you want to ask your GP, so you make sure they cover everything concerning you.

Share your experience to improve things – Long Covid care as it stands isn’t good enough. It’s not joined up and it’s difficult to get tests and investigations that people need. I’ve joined with CHSS in campaigning for better care. Sharing your experience will help decision makers understand what needs to change – and will help shape the services that currently exist. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Guest blog by Dr Amy Small

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