COVID-19 has affected people in many different ways, some people experience minor symptoms whilst others may become seriously ill. For some people the effects are long lasting. We would like to hear how COVID-19 has affected you, your family and your way of life.

If you would like to share your experience please contact Di Critchley via email diane.critchley@nhs.net or you can upload your story of your COVID-19 experience in your own words here. 

Please note, you will remain anonymous and none of your personal or identifying details will be shared.

Stories of people who were affected by COVID-19 

Sign post saying 'Social Distancing' at a funeral hallThe family had all been together on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, Anne-Marie had thought her 71 year old mother in-law, Sandra, had looked a little under the weather. Sandra was fit and active and there was no need for anyone to feel unduly concerned.

By Tuesday Sandra had developed a cough and diarrhoea and had a temperature. She had been experiencing symptoms the Friday before but hadn’t wanted to worry anyone. Sandra’s husband Pete telephoned 111 but was unable to get through, eventually on the Thursday that week he was able to speak to a 111 operator who advised him to take his wife to Salford Royal.

He took Sandra to the hospital where she was admitted to a main ward. Pete made sure Sandra had her mobile phone so that they could stay in touch and she could go on facebook, which she enjoyed. This was to be the last time that Pete would see his wife.

Whilst on the ward Sandra had several tests for COVID-19, all coming back negative but the symptoms continued. This caused a lot of confusion for both Sandra and her family as to what the problem was. An x-ray of her lungs was taken and it was clear to the doctors that Sandra did have COVID-19. An extraction of Sandra’s lungs was carried out to make it easier for her to breath but it was of little help.

Whilst on the ward Sandra would be on facebook, liking posts and messaging family members she even sent Pete a selfie. The fact that Sandra was active and communicating with her family was keeping family members encouraged that she was doing well and would recover. Anne-Marie chose to be optimistic however her husband, Sandra’s son was preparing for the worst.

Another lung extraction still gave no relieve to Sandra and eventually she was moved to the ICU and had to be put on a BIPAP machine to improve her oxygen levels. Sandra was terrified. Whilst on the ward she had her phone and she had been able to keep up with the news and had heard that 50% of people who go into ICU don’t come out. Sandra was really upset.

Now that Sandra was no longer able to use her phone, staff from the ward would phone her husband Pete every day. The call was usually in the morning and Pete was given a very brief and mostly medical update on how his wife was, phrases like ‘she is comfortable’ were used but nothing about how she was. What was she chatting about? Was she worrying? Was she able to listen to music? Nothing personal was ever mentioned.

Pete would wait for the call each morning and carefully write down everything that was said. He then had to spend much of his time contacting other family members also waiting for news each day. This was becoming increasingly difficult for Pete and on many occasions his son would have to take on the task of contacting the wider family.

Pete and Sandra’s only son was furloughed from work so at home all day with no work. He was spending his days awaiting the phone call to bring news of his Mum, jumping every time the phone rang, the ringtone becoming a trigger for anxiety.

On Wednesday 16th April the decision was made to put Sandra on a ventilator for 2 days as a precaution. When the family received the call that morning they were devastated, in shock. Sandra had been fit and well with no underlying health conditions, she used the gym regularly. How had she become so ill?

After the 2 days, as previously planned, Sandra was taken off the ventilator but unfortunately it was necessary for her to go back on.

Throughout Sandra’s stay in hospital Ann-Marie, Sandra’s daughter in-law, had tried to remain positive, counting on Sandra’s usually fitness to get her through. The family had not seen Sandra in hospital, had not seen her on the machines so it was difficult to contemplate that she was so seriously ill. There had been no facetime or zoom, only the telephone messages from the staff which reminded fairly ambiguous, ‘she is comfortable’ or ‘there are small improvements’.  What the family really wanted to hear was how Sandra was in herself, what is she talking about with the staff, what music is she listening to, is she reading? Is she scared? The family wanted to know what Sandra was experiencing, thinking and feeling, not just the basic medical information.

On 28th April Anne-Marie and her husband had been awaiting the daily phone call from her father in-law but it had not come in the morning as usual and it got later and later. Eventually the call from the hospital had come at 4.30pm.

At 1pm that afternoon Sandra’s body had started to fail, the staff worked with her for 3 hours to try to improve her situation but to no avail. Pete was informed that his wife was now receiving end of live care.

Relaying this news was the worst phone call that he had ever had to make. The family gathered in a private room at Salford Royal where the situation was fully explained. The doctors and nurses were good but the family could see they were tired, they could see it in their eyes how bad thing were, they had marks on their faces from the PPE, one nurse had plasters were the masks had made her sore. They took the time to clearly explained everything that had gone on that afternoon.

The family were offered the opportunity to say good bye in person but were warned of the serious risk that this would involve. It was agreed that the family could facetime with ICU in order to say good bye to Sandra. Staff play music to her, ‘The Beatles’ her favourite band, she had seen them live in their heyday in the sixties. It was agreed to put Sandra’s oxygen at a normal level and 30 minutes later she passed away.

As the family watched on the facetime Anne-Marie had caught a glimpse of the nurse caring for Sandra. She was shocked by the image.

“It was like something out of a horror sci-fi movie and it made me think, is that all Sandra has seen for a month”

Sandra had been such a sociable, lively person what impact had being in such isolation with no family or friends and surrounded by people in such dramatic PPE taken on her ability to fight this terrible disease.

It was 3 weeks before Sandra’s funeral could take place, it was a difficult time and the family found themselves in limbo. There were arguments about who would be able to attend the funeral as restrictions meant that numbers were limited.

Anne-Marie wanted to share the families experience because she would like people to learn from it, this disease isn’t going away quickly and other families will experience the same issues.

When a family is bereaved there are services and people to support them but people struggle to find support while they had a loved one in hospital. The family found nothing helpful on the hospital website, not even the means of arranging to speak with the hospital Chaplin. The Spirit of Salford helpline if great and offers lots of different kinds of support even bereavement support but nothing for people who have a family member in hospital who they can’t visit and can’t get any insight into the personal journey of their loved one.

The funeral is also difficult during these times, with such limited numbers allowed. Many friends and family members are not able to attend. The funeral company were good and Sandra’s funeral well done. They posted the route the cortege would take on line and many friends and neighbours did come out to the route to pay their respects.

The crematorium didn’t have a web link that would enable the funeral to be broadcast for those unable to attend which would have helped the family. This does happen in other places such as Ireland and the family feel that Salford could learn from them.

''I had the Big 3 Symptoms''

COVID-19 symptomsI have worked in social care in Salford for more than 20 years, I am now in my 50’s To start with I worked for the council but now I work for a not for profit care organisation providing care and support for people living with Dementia as well as people with disabilities and older people.

I caught COVID around mid-March. My symptoms were the `big 3’ at the time. I had a cough, breathlessness and I had a temperature, I also had headaches. I wasn’t sure if I had COVID or not but there was no testing then and the advice at the time was to self-isolate if you had any of these symptoms, so I did.

I remember thinking that I had never had anything like this before.  I have had flu but if I was to describe the difference I would say it was the overwhelming feeling was of extreme fatigue and then of course the loss of taste and smell.

The loss of taste and smell wasn’t something that was being recognised at the time as a symptom there had been nothing about it in the media. I found this loss to be particularly odd but as nobody else was saying the anything about it, I started to think that maybe it was a figment of my imagination. 

Mentally, as the death toll was climbing, I started to take it seriously, but the coughing described as a major sign, was not a particular symptom I was experiencing to any great degree. For me it was the fatigue and the having difficulty breathing that were my main symptoms; I can remember mowing the lawn then coming back in the house and I could tell by the look on my wife’s face I looked terrible.

I did eventually go for a test at the Etihad when my symptoms had gone in July which was then negative but later, in August, I had an antibody test at AJ Bell and this came back positive.

I do have long term effects which are problems with fatigue, `fuzzy’ thinking and memory problems, and headaches, I was never one to have headaches before this.  I have odd dreams now too. There is also something about my vision and eyes that I can’t quite define

I thought I would be one of the people who would never get something like this.  Since being ill my energy levels have reduced drastically.  I have no desire to try to get on with `normal life’ as it seemed too much trouble.  I can work well in the mornings but by the afternoons I felt like I could fall asleep at any time. 

Part of my role was to include in the company weekly update a section on well-being and mental health so I have been reading a lot of articles on different aspects of the pandemic which I find enlightening but also highlights how we are floundering to understand the immediate and long-term effects.

With most illnesses there is an expectation that there may be very few or no long-term effects.  With this virus what I have found is that my taste and smell is still not 100%, and fatigue is a particular problem.  I would also say my lung capacity is reduced but I have no evidence for this. 

Many factors contribute to how all of us feel at certain points in our lives but the long-term effects of this pandemic are becoming increasingly recognised, which to me is comforting.  What I am reading is that fatigue and the associated lack of motivation is common which are certainly the main problems that remain for me.

''I don’t know how I caught COVID-19''

Supermarket trolleyOn Tuesday 2nd June I began to feel nauseous and had loose bowels. I had recently started a new medication so put it down to side effects; I decided I would probably stop taking the medication if the side effects continued. The following Friday I began to feel like I had ice water running through my veins, no matter what I did I could not get warm. By the next morning I had a raging temperature and I was very weak, I could only get out of bed to crawl to the bathroom, I live alone in a small flat, so didn’t have far to move to get to the bathroom or the kitchen but could barely reach either, I would feel like I was going to faint.

When I woke on the Monday morning I had no sense of smell or taste, but still no cough. I booked myself a test at the Etihad stadium the results of which came back positive, I had COVID-19. For 10 days I remained in bed, I had a fluctuating temperature and the fatigue was shocking, I felt so poorly, I could barely mange to take care of myself. As I began to recover I continued to self-isolate.

I had contacted the provider of the sheltered housing where I live to inform them that I had tested positive but received no phone calls or support of any kind from them. At this stage I had not heard of the Spirit of Salford so had no one else to reach out to and no one reached in and there was no GP follow up after my positive test. Thankfully a friend began to do shopping for me; she left it in the boot of my car where I then collected it from. I continued to feel unwell until the beginning of August.

Eventually, around the end of September, my sense of taste and smell began to return. However now every time I eat something about 20 minutes later I get a kind of metallic taste in my mouth and my taste has changed too. I never had a sweet tooth, always favouring savoury food. Now sweet things are the food that I can taste the best.

I am feeling better now but I tire really easily and have to rest for 10 minutes every hour. My brain is functioning through a kind of fog; it takes me time to process anything.  Thankfully work has been great, they have been very supportive.

I don’t know how I caught COVID-19; I was going out only to shop once a week or sitting in the garden at the housing scheme, no one else was using the garden. I went nowhere else. My family live some distance away so no one was visiting either.

I have recently had a chest x-ray which was clear and have had bloods taken for tests which I am awaiting the results of.

I know that COVID–19 is very real and the lasting effects are far reaching.

''Having long COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on my family''

Little boy thinking with hands on his cheekI am a wife and mother to 2 boys, so as you can imagine I normally lead a busy life. I enjoy taking walks, although limited at times due to my other long-standing condition. But before COVID happened I had been learning to swim and this was helping me physically and mentally. I work in the healthcare sector and normally people would come to me for advice but when COVID hit, that is when I realised that I can’t help most of the people as I would like to or would normally do.

Although my job is in healthcare, I don’t have direct patient contact but I believe I caught the virus at work from equipment that we shared such as keyboards, kettle, door handles and generally being around other people in the office.

I remember very well, on a Friday 3rd April 2020 I had to stay off work due to my young son having a fever but he was well in himself. Then during the night or next day I developed a sore throat but I didn’t think it was related to COVID as it was not ‘one of the 3 main symptoms’ talked about at the time. I thought I was able to manage my symptoms using over the counter medication and various concoctions such as lemon and honey, after all I am in the healthcare profession, but turns out I wasn’t.

I was offered a test on the Monday due to being healthcare staff. During the test, I remember a colleague asking ‘how long I had been short of breath for?’ I put it down to the fact that I had just climbed the stairs. However the sore throat was worsening and began to experience loss of taste and smell. I kept clearing my throat and had a mild fever I was also getting a horsey voice. That night the fever and shortness of breath worsened.

The test results came back two days later, I was positive for Coronavirus but my son was negative. By day 5, all my symptoms were worse despite taking painkillers. I also developed other symptoms, diarrhoea and vomiting, stomach pains and loss of appetite. I rang NHS 111 and was asked to go to COVID hub; as soon as I walked in I was whisked to A+E. By then I had low saturation and an uncontrolled fever. I spent 11 days in hospital, 5 of those on ICU. I remember at the hospital, they said if I had stayed at home that night, probably I wouldn’t have woken up. That really scared me. I was given various treatments including antibiotics but staff would say at times they didn’t know what to give me as this is new and there is no clear treatment for it as yet.

Luckily I didn’t require intubation but was on breathing support called a CPAP hood.

I was supported by the critical care team from the hospital following my hospital stay. They acknowledged my Long COVID symptoms but handed my care to the GP. I have received support from the GP practice but some of the GP’s can be dismissive. I am still awaiting on the said ‘Long COVID’ clinics. I have had support from my employer via the occupational health team. But my saving grace when I realised that my symptoms were not going away as quick as I or everyone else expected, was the social media groups. I remember at one point I thought maybe these symptoms are all in my head. Then I read an article from a Dr Suett who had experienced prolonged symptoms too. From then onwards I found Long COVID groups via Facebook. This opened doors to other support groups. I have taken part in research projects via zoom, although tiring it has been helpful to know that someone out there believes me and others who are suffering this too. I attend a virtual COVID peer support group and have utilised online courses or leaflets, some relating to Long COVID, others relating to a particular symptom that I still have e.g. fatigue and accessing what’s already available to support me.

Now COVID has affected my life in general a great deal. I am still suffering from post COVID or long COVID symptoms. The illness has also worsened my pre-existing conditions I have not been back at work since April and I don’t know when I will be back. I tire easily and doing some housework or interacting with my family is a tremendous task. Basically, I am still not able to do what I would normally do prior to contracting COVID 19. The financial, psychological and social impact this has had on my family and I, is devastating.

''COVID-19 has hit this house''

Woman in bed holding a thermometerThis is my story so far today being Wednesday 11th November 2020

If this helps anyone then that’s why I’m writing this not for sympathy just to help others.

On Saturday I got up as normal and we finished putting the outside decorations up as we always do on a nice weekend in November ready for turning on in December

Around dinner time I’d realised I hadn’t eaten anything which for me isn’t normal so I made myself some cheese on toast ‘mmm’. About half an hour after eating that I started seeing stars and having hot flushes and I thought here we go I’m getting a migraine, bloody cheese & dairy always sets me off. So I take the rest of the day easy take my ‘migraleve’ tablets and go through the motions of a migraine for me which generally consists of me losing my 20/20 vision having big globs floating through my eyes, sore head and my body completely purging itself of my insides (got to say thankfully all bottom end this time ) normally I’m sick too but not today. I have a little sleep as a dark cold room normally helps me out too.

When I woke with a cough – now, I don’t suffer with coughs and colds as a rule so I’ve not much experience with the types of coughs you get but bugger me this was awful. If I say it was like I had glass shards in my throat from the first cough that would be as close as I could get to it and after a few of those I decided, yep, I got a sore throat. I called it a day on Saturday after that I’d had enough!

Sunday

Woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a bus, every bone in my body hurt my head felt like the top of my scalp and skull had come lose and every time I coughed I had to hold my head to stop it from falling off cos that’s what it felt like it would do. My migraine is was there and I had this cough.  As the day wore on I began feeling like maybe I was coming down with a cold. Not thinking covid just a migraine and maybe a cold but the cough was nagging at me that’s just not right so Sunday night I booked a test just to be in the safe side especially as I work in a nursery and at the doctors. During the night I was struggling with breathing I felt like there was a load of sticky stuff in my windpipe and I couldn’t’ move it no matter what I did, the coughing wasn’t bringing it up – it was like glue setting and shutting my airway off.  I drank lots of hot tea to melt it - well that was my logic and it helped me

Monday

yep migraine was still there, cough was still just as bad, bones still ached muscles ached, skin was sensitive to touch I was on sensory overload everything hurt and I had booked a drive in test it was gonna be fun getting there. I take my daughter with me as I booked her one too. She too had a headache all weekend after getting sent home from school on Friday, her test came back all clear though at  the time she was feeling ok in fact I’d say she was buzzing as she was not in school, miraculously the headache had gone! I took the test and went home to get back in bed.

Tuesday

My breathing was still bad, my chest hurt on the left side. It felt like my lung was poorly as it hurt when I breathed deep. I was doing some breathing exercises I read you should to try and keep the lungs clear, it hurt but I’m still did them. My migraine was still a bitch the cough was still there, it felt like I was breathing glass by now as my throat was so sore. I was now being sick with the migraine. I kept going back to bed every now and again. I got worn out quickly and was not sleeping through the nights so I guess it was to be expected.

Wednesday

Everything was the same as the days before but no being sick thank god. I got my test results back and I was positive for covid.  As the days wore on I had known it was. I hadn’t had the temperature though or lost my sense of smell and taste and surprisingly I had not lost my appetite as I kept eating all sorts of spicy flavoursome foods just to test that theory . All the symptoms were still with me nothing eased and breathing was still difficult.

Thursday

I’m writing this now at silly o’clock as I’ve just had a nose bleed. I’m putting it down to the virus as I can honestly say I’ve probably had a total of two nosebleeds in 10 years. The migraine doesn’t feel as bad maybe the nosebleed has helped it, the cough is still as bad and everything else hurts just as it did. At the moment I’m hoping I’ve turned a corner and it’s starting to clear just the release of pressure on my head makes me feel so much better. Still can’t bloody sleep though for coughing

Sorry if this is long winded, I do go on! But I hope it helps someone.

Stay safe people I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

''The tiredness is horrible''

Tired woman covering her eyesBefore lockdown Vania was an active person who has always volunteered in her community and was and hopes to be again an active member of many groups and organisations working to make things better for people here in Salford.

Vania lives with a condition known as Spastic Paraparesis, put simply; her central nervous system is unable to communicate effective messages from her brain to her legs. This makes movement and mobility difficult for Vania leaving her reliant on a rollator to support her to walk.

Vania became ill the week that lockdown began, her temperature was up and down and she developed a cough, a really deep and constant cough that felt unlike any cough she had experienced before. Becoming concerned Darren; Vania’s partner of 20 years called NHS 111, the call was answered straight away. However, once Vania’s symptoms had been described, Darren was traversed to another operator where he remained on hold for 55 minutes.

With the landline on hold to 111 he then used his mobile to contact their GP practice who advised that he take Vania to A&E. Feeling unsure about this, he then contacted the A&E department at Salford Royal to ask what the procedure was. He was told that he only needed to drop her off at the department and that she would be seen.

So Vania arrived at A&E, no one else was in the waiting room when she registered at the desk. First she was seen by triage. She was asked if she had a mobile with her, which she did. Vania was seen into a room where she had a telephone consultation with the A&E doctor who was in a different room. She was then examined and her vitals checked, to be told it was extremely likely that she had COVID -19 but that they weren’t testing people. Vania was advised to stop taking the Naproxen that she would normally take; she was not admitted into hospital.

A few days later Vania awoke to discover the loss of her sense of taste and smell. Her breathing became difficult and she was still coughing. Darren again called 111 but this time they sent an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived they examined Vania and tried to make her feel more comfortable, they felt that there was no need for her to go to hospital.

Vania felt that she had wasted their time but they did not, they reassured her that they had absolutely done the right thing to call them and that they had been happy to come. They also spoke with Darren as he has a heart condition and advised him on how to keep himself safe.

Vania said, “The paramedics that came were really, really nice”  

3 days letter the doctor confirmed that Vania’s symptoms were Cleary and advised her that she would feel better in 10 days. Due to her high she was given a  prescription for liquid morphine but unfortunately had a reaction to it the Dr advised to go to A&E where they ran bloods and a chest x-ray. It was then confirmed that her neuro condition had reacted to Covid.

Weeks later Vania still feels weak and experiences great fatigue, simple tasks take all her energy and she has to rest, saying,

“My son came home from college, he nudged me saying, Mum, you’re falling asleep while I’m talking to you.”

The tiredness was not the only problem that Vania was left with. She explained saying, “The tiredness is horrible but the pain is unbelievable.”

Vania’s GP requested an urgent, face to face appointment with her Neurologist only to be told that would not be possible as face to face consultation were not happening yet. Vania had and existing appointment with her Neurologist in October, as ordinarily she would be seen every 6 months, she had been informed that the appointment would be by telephone but received a letter to inform her that the appointment was cancelled. She was then sent a face to face appointment which she had in September.

The pain Clinic had written to Vania in May sending her a lengthy questionnaire to complete about her condition. Due to the fatigue and how she felt mentally Vania struggled to complete the form. She contacted the pain clinic and was told not to worry but do the best she could. When she failed to complete and post the form she received a letter informing her that she had been discharged from the pain clinic.

Nearly 8 months after having COVID-19 Vania is still living with the after effects and there is no sign of any improvement any time soon.

''I had my sons and my own health to consider''

Nurse wearing face mask and sheildI am a Nurse but I am due to take early retirement due to ill health. I have two sons aged 15 and 17. My husband died at home from lung cancer 2 months before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I needed all my focus and strength to fight my cancer, I didn’t have time to grieve or process my husband’s death properly.

I finished my chemo therapy around 18mths ago and have been on a trial at the Christie with a tablet to hopefully help prevent recurrence of my breast cancer. I have experienced some side effects left over from chemo/radiotherapy along with side effects from the trial drug which include feeling fatigued with painful muscle also the medication I am taking have lowered my immune system.

In early March my 15 year old son started with a slight cough, both my son’s and I have asthma so I was not unduly concerned, he was a little under the weather for a couple of days but nothing more. A few days later my husband’s parents came to stay. My father in-law in particular has struggled with my husband’s death and being where he died and with his grandsons helps.

We were all sat together on the Sunday evening when my father in-law started to cough, only a slight cough, like he had a tickle in his throat. COVID was being reported on the news but lockdown or restrictions had not yet been mentioned. I googled COVID symptoms, as my in-laws were under the impression that you needed to be experiencing all of the potential systems before you should be concerned about COVID, I read that this was not the case.

I explained this to my in-laws and my father in-law asked if I would like them to go. I said I was sorry but I would. I had my sons and my own health to consider. They left that evening.

2 days later I started with a mild cough at this stage I didn’t have a temperature. I and my sons opted to self-isolate at this point. I already had a delivery slot from Tesco and neighbours brought us anything else we needed. I kept in touch with my in-laws; they both experienced a few days of having a cough, feeling unwell and a lack of energy but nothing to serious.

A few days later I started to feel worse, I got to the point where I couldn’t get myself out of bed. I contacted The Christie and was advised to stop taking my medication in order to be able to fight of the infection. I then called 111 and explained how I felt, by now I also had a temperature of 39+. I was told that unless I needed hospitalisation I should just keep resting/fluids etc.

That night I awoke feeling very unwell, went to the loo and had 2 episodes of diarrhoea, I felt that I was going to collapse. I was stared to feel delirious; I was becoming unaware of what was happing so I called a friend who lived nearby. My friend’s husband arrived soon after and phoned 111 again. They again said that the only people they were testing were those who needed hospitalisation and those would only be those who needed possible ventilation. I knew respiratory wise I was nowhere near that, so again continued with their advice of staying in bed. Unknown to me at this time, my friend stayed down stairs all night in case I became more unwell.

I realise now that I shouldn’t have allowed my friend into the house for fear of spreading the infection but I was at the point where I was unable to think rationally or process what was happening to me.

I don’t know who called the community nurse, 111 or The Christie, but later that day a community nurse arrived to check on me. The nurse checked my temperature and my blood pressure etc. she said she thought I had Covid but they generally weren't testing people unless they need ventilation. She said there was nothing more they could do for me and advised me to stay in bed and drink plenty of fluids. The next day a different nurse arrived to check on me. She said she felt that I would be safe enough now to leave me to rest and that there was no reason for them to call again.

For the next 5 days I remained in bed, only getting up to go to the toilet. My temperature was up and down and I feel extremely fatigued. I never became breathless and my chest never felt off.

Since I have been ill I find that I get fatigued very quick, whilst I was experiencing this before it is worse now. I also, at times get palpitations, something I have never experienced before. I used to walk about 2 miles a day but now I just don’t have the energy and if I try to mow the lawn I can only manage one bucket full of cuttings before I need to sit down for 10 minutes or so before I can continue.

I was never tested and have not been able to have an anti-body test so will never know for certain if I am living with the side effects to medication or the after effects of Covid.

My sons and I were in a  in a support bubble with my Mum, but now the boys are back in school and collage we are continuing keep away from others as much as we can, we social distance, wash our hands and wear face masks when we go out.

''I had COVID-19 before we knew what it was''

Plane at an airportI was working at Manchester Airport as an aircraft cleaner. In November of 2019 I started to feel unwell.

I thought it was a bad chest infection. I coughed for 5 weeks and felt hot then shivering and thoroughly tired and just wanted to rest, but couldn’t lay flat in bed due to persistent cough. I had a pain in my right lung which felt like the pain I had in my right lung in 2017 when I contracted pneumonia.

I went to my GP 4 times in all and had 4 different courses of antibiotics. The fourth one being what they use to treat children with cystic fibrosis. I was sent to hospital for a chest x-ray. I had to have 2 weeks off work but worked for 3 weeks after with a persistent cough and temperature.

I was working on a plane which had come from Wuhan Cathay pacific. I now believe I had COVID before we knew what it was. A lot of my colleague had the same persistent cough which lasted 5 weeks. One of the worst illnesses I've had but I'm still here to tell the tale thank god.

''I have no energy 4 months on''

Tired man holding his headI tested positive for COVID-19 in October 2020. I didn’t have the usual symptoms; I had a headache and back ache. I then slept and was bed ridden for 10 days.

I have no energy 4 months on and am now struggling with long COVID-19. I am unable to work as I have chronic fatigue, brain fog and nausea. I have also suffered hair loss.

I have learnt that doing the minimal of exercise can cause exhaustion resulting in days in bed, resting and sleeping to recover.

I had a blood test after 12 weeks which showed I had low vitamin D. I’ve now been prescribed vitamin D booster tablets to help with that.

I have asked to be referred to the Long COVID-19 clinic but have no details as yet. I am in touch with my GP to update her on my fatigue.

I am age 43 and previously I was fit and active, I now feel like a very different person

''Our 9 year old Grandson tested positive''

A little school boyAs I have a number of health problems, including asthma and my husband having prostate cancer for which he received intense radiotherapy and we are both being over 70, we have been extremely cautious in an attempt not to contract the virus. 

Our son has been very worried about us and we have seen him and his family just a handful of times, sitting outside when the weather allowed, not hugging our grandchildren and complying with the restrictions. 

Our daughter in-law's parents are both eighty and have serious health problems also. Our daughter in-law home schooled the boys from March last year. When the school reopened in September they were told lots of precautions were in place and despite our son and daughter in law's misgivings they sent the boys back to school.

They didn't like the fact that the parents were standing in groups outside the school waiting for their children, mostly not wearing masks and thought they had made a mistake. Our youngest grandson's class was sent home to isolate for two weeks the very first day of term as one of his classmates’ families had tested positive for COVID. Just a few days later his brother's class were sent home to isolate as his teacher had been unwell for a couple of days and tested positive for COVID. The family went to be tested.  Our son and daughter in-law were negative but our eldest Grandson tested positive. Our youngest 8 year old Grandson had a test but they didn't receive a result as his test had been lost.  Fortunately our 9 year old Grandson who tested positive, he just had a cough and felt very tired and achy for a few days, this developed about three days after being tested.

Our son in particular was really angry that they had gone back to school. Whatever restrictions were in place in the school for the children were negated by the actions of parents outside. The boys are being home schooled again. They live in where there are lots of places they can go for walks with the dogs without seeing anybody else. The boys miss their friends and they miss us and their other grandparents. As their ages are so close together they are like twins and have themselves to play with and talk to. Their mummy is very diligent about the schooling. She sticks to the curriculum and school hours. As they get individual attention they have done very well with their schooling. The youngest went up four levels in reading from March to the end of July when they were tested. They have everything delivered, as we do, groceries and everything else are bought on line. They leave their post box contents for about three days before opening it. 

My husband cycles, he belongs to a crown green bowling club which has been closed. He has cycled more since the closure and when the roads have been icy recently he has walked. He doesn't stop to speak to anybody and wears a mask all the time whether cycling or walking.

I cannot walk very far at all so I cannot go out walking. My mobility scooter needs a new battery and when we get enough money to purchase one I will be able to go round the local park on it when my husband goes for a walk. I worry that I am not getting enough fresh air.  The weather has been very wet and cold. The damp makes my chest worse.  As soon as I can I get out into the cabin we have in our garden where I can sew, do jigsaw puzzles, leaving the doors open.

We usually go to church on Sundays and other times during the week but the churches have been closed also. There is a Sunday service put onto social media which we can watch on the pc fortunately. We worry about our Grandsons missing out on so much. Their Scout group hasn't met since March last year, their swimming lessons and fencing lessons were cancelled. If they didn't have access to the countryside it would be worse but they go building dens in the woods and playing hide and seek. As they hadn't been to the hairdresser their hair grew long of course.  The youngest let his mummy cut his but the eldest took the opportunity to grow his.  He is growing it to a length where he can have it cut to donate to a charity that makes wigs for people who have lost their hair due to illness or treatment.

NHS test and trace phone appIn November of 2020 I was contacted by track and trace and asked to self-isolate. The day later I began to experience symptoms. I was lethargic and my muscle ached. These symptoms were quickly followed by shortness of breath, then no taste and no smell. I also began to have headaches. I did contact my GP for advice but fortunately I didn’t need to go to hospital.

It is February 2021 and I continue to have symptoms of long COVID. I finally returned to work 14 weeks after first being asked to self-isolate. I really hope to get back to my normal self soon but I still get very tired especially in the afternoons and get breathless with even the simplest things.

I was so grateful to receive my first vaccine in late January and I hope we can all start planning a brighter future!

Roller coasterI received a positive COVID test in October just after my 34th birthday. I decided to take the test after feeling very drained a few days before and having a very mild cough, this only lasted a day or two and so I felt bad for using a test as was adamant it would be returned negative.

The day after I got my positive result I really deteriorated and physically couldn't move from my bed, my temperature was sky high and my mild cough returned. I started to suffer from chest pain, which felt like something heavy on top of my chest being pressed down. The most frustrating symptom though was the loss of taste and smell, it become really disorientating! Previously I had a really strong sense of smell and taste. 

All the above symptoms continued and worsened over the next few days and the low energy became debilitating. 

After 10 days I started to feel marginally better and a few days later my energy levels started to improve, I decided to go for a walk to get some fresh air. On that walk I had to keep stopping to catch my breath, feeling very breathless and weak. I think that walk knocked me back as then the chest pain and low energy returned.

After 4 weeks, my taste and smell started to return and energy levels felt like they were picking back up. I tried to get back to my usual daily routine.

I had also found that one day to the next could be very different and became fed up of the "covid coaster" feeling marginally better one morning and then back to day one in the afternoon.

However, the chest pain described above had not gone away and once I returned to "normal" life the pain got worse. One Sunday the pain in my chest significantly increased. However, I'd tried to do an exercise class on the Saturday (which was my first in a long time) and so put it down to that. The pain increased over the next few days and on the Wednesday morning the pain had moved into my arm and down into my hand - experiencing both pins and needles and numbness off and on. I decided to visit my local pharmacy, who advised I ring 111 after describing the pain in my arm. I was advised to visit A&E.

After several tests at hospital I was told my blood test had shown elevated levels of D-Dimer. Which I believe can indicate the presence of blood clots. I was given an injection of Warfarin. I was at hospital from around 5pm and discharged at 1.30am on the provision I returned later that morning for a CT scan, which thankfully showed no blood clots.

I'm now 4 months on from my positive test result and the chest pain has only recently consistently disappeared. My taste has returned but sense of smell has still not returned to normal. My energy levels are still low and I now take iron supplements to help with this. 

Grandparents and grandchildrenThere is just my husband and myself at home now. I have hardly been out for a year only to the supermarket and to church and then I always wore a mask. One of our daughters has a young baby; so during the pandemic we have formed a support bubble so that I could help with child care.

I called round one day and daughters partner opened the door a just enough to say, “Go away I’ve tested positive.” That was it, he shut the door and I went away fully intending to self-isolate for the next 10 days.

Only a day or two later I started to feel a bit odd, just not right, wiped out and no appetite. To be honest I don’t remember a great deal after that because I became so poorly. After a few days, my other daughter, who is a nurse, found out I was feeling ill and said I needed to speak to the GP. When I spoke with the GP he asked if I had had a COVID test. I hadn’t because I had been too poorly to leave the house. He said that I needed a test, he would send a taxi to pick me up and take me home again but I need to go to the Angel Centre.

 I arrived at the Angel and had the test, the nurse was very concerned about me and the fact that I was so cold; she kept rubbing my arms trying to warm me up. I thought I was so cold because I hadn’t been out for a week. I was told that I had a chest infection and that I need to go to hospital. So I spent the afternoon in A&E at Salford Royal. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a hospital trolley but they are not the most comfortable things to spend an afternoon on.

I was put on a c-pat machine and admitted to the High Dependency Unit. After I while I realised I was starving and craving chocolate, after all I hadn’t eaten for a week. My daughter’s husband works at the hospital and she asked him if he could get some to me. He dropped of a packet of flakes, I was so desperate to eat the chocolate but eating a flake whilst wearing an oxygen mask is not that easy and I made a dreadful mess.

I have to say, the food on the ward was really nice and very well presented. I wasn’t allowed to walk to the toilet on my own and had to be escorted. After 4 days I was moved to H2, I was still on oxygen and they wanted me to sleep siting up as to not stop the oxygen flow. I kept sliding down the bed and finding my feet dangling over the edge. The nurses kept asking me to sit up again. The nights were very long; it felt like I was looking at the clock every 5 minutes.

After a few more days I was on the mend and moved to L7, it was much quieter and I was able to catch up on the sleep I had been missing. A week later was told I could go home; I just had to wait for some medication. I seemed to be waiting an age for the medication to come; I must have fallen asleep as I felt someone stroking my arm. She said can some come to pick you up? ‘oh yes’ I said and soon after my daughter collected me and took me home.

My husband had tested positive at the same time as me but he wasn’t ill just under the weather. He did as he is supposed to and self-isolated so couldn’t go into work for two weeks.

The care I received in Salford Royal was amazing I can’t vault anything or anyone one. I am feeling so much better now, I was given some breathing exercises from a physio and I do them every day. I can walk about down stairs well enough but need to hold on going up the stairs. I have started doing a bit of house work every day and am able to do more each day before I need to rest.

I am booked in for my COVID vaccine soon and am looking forward to it.

''The COVID-19 ward was a lonely and scary place''

Patient lying on a hospital bedAll through the pandemic, out of my family I was the one who has been paranoid about sticking to the rules. I wear a mask and wash my hands. I have been working from home and I try to go out a little as possible. Even when it was allowed to meet people in the garden, I didn’t. At Christmas when you could see people, I still said no.

I started feeling ill on the Wednesday, a few days earlier I had been to the optician but I can’t say that is where I caught it, the nurse said I could just as easily have picked it up off a tin of beans in the supermarket.

I didn’t have the usual symptoms; I didn’t have a cough or loss of taste or smell. A few weeks earlier I had been in hospital with sciatica, I just thought that my symptoms were because of the pain medication I was on.

I just felt poorly, sweaty and cold and faint so I just slept. I self-isolated from my family. This went on for a few days so I thought I had better just make sure it wasn’t covid. I went on the App, I put in my symptoms and it said I didn’t need a test.

By Saturday I was still feeling poorly and decided to go for a test anyway. I went to the drive through test centre in Irlam I had the test at 10.30am, I went back to bed and slept most of the day, checking my phone on and off. I woke at midnight and checked my phone, I had a message saying I was covid positive.

By Tuesday I had started to feel very ill, I called 111, after a telephone consultation with a doctor they booked me an assessment in A&E for 6.30pm. My wife took me; on the way there I was feeling more and more poorly. When I walked through the doors at A&E the nurse took one look at me and got me a wheelchair, gave me a new mask and took me straight to through to be checked over.  I was told later that my oxygen level had dropped to 80%.

I was in the covid area of A&E for a few hours; I was tested again twice while I was there which confirmed that I had covid-19. I had a chest x-ray which showed I had a chest infection and covid pneumonia. Later that night I was admitted to the hospital and taken up to a covid ward. It was scary but I was reassured by the fact that some people on the ward were recovering from being really ill and were on their way home.

I was given a high percentage of oxygen but through an ordinary oxygen mask, my fear was that I would have to go on a cpap machine, then what would happen after that. It was always at the back of my mind, what will happen next. I remember sitting in a chair, if I took my oxygen mask off to have a drink or anything it felt like someone was suffocating me, it was very scary. A man I had spent the morning talking to on the ward became poorly and was taken away as he had to go on a cpap. I don’t know what happened to him after that but I think he got better.

A covid ward was a lonely and scary place but every day I got a little bit better until I was able to go home. The staff were amazing, right from the person on 111 call and the staff in A&E to the nurses on the ward. If it was not for them I wouldn’t be here now. 

I am back at work now, I was off for three weeks after I came out of hospital. I have been signed off from the virtual clinic and I am building up my fitness again. I am not like I was before but I am getting fitter. 

I still think about how bad it could have been. A family friend caught the virus too but they didn’t make it and I think about that a lot. I got better but so many people have not, I think I feel guilty.

I heard that they needed plasma from people who have had covid so I volunteered, unfortunately because I have had a brain haemorrhage in the past I can’t donate but I want to do something, I have agreed to take part in any research. That is why I am telling my story. I don’t know how people can see so many people sick and dying and still say that covid isn’t real or not that serious. Having covid-19 was the scariest thing that has ever happened to me, even scarier than having a brain haemorrhage.

''My chest felt like an elephant was sitting it''

Woman in painI tested positive on the 18th of March, the symptoms started with extreme ear pain, I had never had any previous issues with my ears, and bouts of coughing that lasted all day. About a week before that I just felt off, like I was coming down with something.

Then  two and bit weeks of extreme fatigue, my ears were sore, my chest was feeling like an elephant was sitting in it and my heart rate was through the roof, even if I just sat up.  The worst symptoms were the ear pain and the intense burning feeling all over my body, especially in my lower legs; I had to drag myself out every night to shower with freezing cold water to get any relief. It was brutal. Then the relentless diarrhoea it was awful. It probably lasted a week in total.


On the 7th March I had woken up to find my right leg and foot were numb, also the right side of my lips, nose and my right arm slightly numb and my heart was racing. I was taken into hospital; I was discharged two days later and sent home with a zimmer frame. A physio came out to see me at my home and some adaptions had to be made to help me get around at home. The doctor set up out-patient MRI as they are wondering if it had been a stroke or nerve damage.

I am still waiting for the test results. In the meantime the extreme fatigue has been the worst. If I’m out of bed for an hour then I am in bed the rest of the day. The brain fog is also very real, my memory is now rotten.

I hope by writing this, it can help others to know that they are not alone.  

Good luck everyone.