Heather Jones (51) lives in Clifton and is a teacher at a secondary school in Bolton. Heather caught Covid-19 back in November 2020 - just at the start of the second national lockdown - when she began to feel very tired before experiencing shivering and feeling hot at the same time. Initially putting it down to being a consequence of working in a school and picking up common bugs, Heather realised it was more serious when she’d lost her sense of smell and tested positive for Covid-19.
Four weeks later, Heather did begin to feel the virus was leaving her system – but she was not returning to her usual self and it soon became clear Heather had developed Long Covid, where the effects of Covid-19 continue for weeks or months after the infection has gone.
“The fatigue never left me. About two months later, I started getting other symptoms and I realised my brain wasn’t really functioning as well. I’d get very confused, I wouldn’t be able to remember things, I’d get confused between what was a dream and what was a reality – which was pretty scary. I’d forget I even had siblings; I’d forget people existed.
“And that was the most terrifying thing because I didn’t know if that was ever going to come back.”
For a long time, Heather struggled to walk far and even short trips across the road from her house would mean her having to come back and sleep to recover. As well as the physical impact, Long Covid has impacted Heather’s mental health, as well as her financial security with having to take time off work.
She said: “Long Covid is so very difficult to recover from. You’re so used to an illness having a beginning and an end and you know it will end. With Long Covid you don’t know when it will end. It has absolutely been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to fight through.
“Long Covid really does impact every aspect of your life. It takes everything from you, everything that makes up who you are, it takes away from you. Nobody can come out of that unscathed mentally, nobody.”
Heather is now attending a Long Covid clinic provided by Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, which offers a variety of support to people still suffering the effects of Covid-19 such as physio and mental health support. Fortunately for Heather, with the tools and information she’s received through the Long Covid clinic, she has not had a relapse.
Heather said: “I have to keep reminding myself that I’m one of the lucky ones. The fact that six months in, I can sit and talk about it, put coherent thoughts together is remarkable and means I am making progress – but I don’t know if it’ll last.”
“I would never wish anyone to suffer like I have. I never imagined the impact that Covid could have on me. I’ve had both my Covid-19 vaccines. It didn’t make me worse and I continue to improve. We aren’t going to get out of this unless enough people are vaccinated. Please do not let Covid destroy your life like it destroyed mine.”