Living with Long COVID

They say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I had COVID-19 and multiple pulmonary emboli and while none of this actually killed me, I have to say I feel significantly weaker after the experience.

I’m writing this blog post just after having done my dishes and emptying the recycling bins – small tasks which I wouldn’t have thought anything of a few months ago, but today they’ve really tired me out. I feel like I should go and have a quick nap – though I’m trying to cut down on my middle of the day naps! Now that I have “long COVID” just about everything tires me out. Plus, my chest is in perpetual pain – often pretty badly. I’ve returned to work, but I do one day a week from home and even that feels like too much sometimes.

I find myself thinking about the past a lot lately. I used to go on long walks in the countryside with friends and be the one who could keep going when everyone else was tired out. I used to leave it as late as possible to go and get the bus or train home after visiting friends and then end up running huge distances to make sure I didn’t miss them. I used to hop on the bus at the last minute to go and visit friends who were sad and needed cheering up. At one point in time, I was running about 5 kilometres (at least) three times a week. There were times when I’d literally go and visit different friends after work every weekday. I’d always be planning and arranging new outings. I had such an abundance of energy and now, sometimes just having a shower is enough to make me tired out.

Occasionally, I’ll have five or ten minutes where I’ll feel frustrated and wish that I had all my old strength back. Thankfully, however, these periods don’t last long. One definite positive throughout the whole experience, is that I’ve found myself able to stay in high spirits for the majority of the time – and that’s probably because I’ve been very lucky. Or, at least, I’ve been lucky in my unluckiness. I’m still alive, for one thing – but, that aside, I live with an incredibly kind and supportive friend who does more for me than I’d ever expect or ask for and the outpouring of support from all of the other people in my life has been almost overwhelming. Cards and gifts in the mail, tonnes of heartfelt messages online. Even if I’ve not seen them, I’ve certainly felt their influence.

Often, when someone is sad, the cliched response will be “at least you’ve got your health” and, by all means, your health is something very valuable. However, as somebody who doesn’t “have their health”, I think the most important thing is to have kind and loving people in your life. With those things, I don’t think I can ever be too sad. So while I slowly wait for my lungs to hopefully return to normal, I can take solace in the fact that I am loved by the wonderful people I choose to have in my life.

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