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Reform Magazine | September 19, 2021

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I am… a long Covid survivor

I am… a long Covid survivor

Rebecca Yorke on suffering with long Covid

I give a long slow exhale – well, as long as I can manage. After three attempts at explaining, I give up, as my colleague is resolute she’d be OK with three days in bed. It is October 2020 and I have been unwell with Covid for eight months. No mere three days in bed, this is long Covid, and I have lost 13kg in three months. Every other diagnosis has been eliminated by every conceivable test, though at this stage I don’t realise that yet more tests await in January, almost one year from first being unwell.

Having had a hearty cough since mid-February 2020, I registered a fever on 4 April. After 17 days it went, then returned three days later and didn’t leave. The symptoms escalated as something seemed to reactivate. The GP was sympathetic but perplexed. Dispatched to A&E, alone, for hours of questions, ECG, X-rays and two lots of bloods, I convinced the doctor that hospitalisation was unnecessary. If admitted, I believed I would never come out.

I wasn’t hugely unwell, initially. I had a persistent cough and a low-grade fever which got worse if I made toast, hung washing or just had the audacity to stand up. The infectious diseases doctor labelled it ‘a fever of unknown origin’.

Then fatigue started. I carved out a hole in the sofa under a blanket, right at the time my family needed me most. Present but absent. In my better moments I did colouring in – if it was an Olympic sport, I’d have a gold. And
I withdrew from those around me.

Deteriorating eyesight, tinnitus and a dry, sore mouth. Limb numbness and cracking joints. Despite being bone tired, insomnia. Racing heart. Freezing hands and feet, super sensitive skin. Lying down, the gunge in my chest would make itself known, the cough only abating if I tried to sleep almost upright. Mental clarity diminished. Reading and writing became tricky with no guaranteed connection between what I saw or heard and what I wrote down…

Rebecca Yorke is an actor and creative

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This is an extract from an article published in the September 2021 edition of Reform

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