A mum-of-three who says she’s one of the many people suffering from “long Covid” had had to give up her demanding job and even struggles top remember the names of her children.
Before starting to show signs of the virus in March, Sarah Wakefield was "very, very fit”. She ran a mountain bike guide business and worked as a watersports instructor. A normal working day used to involve her riding a mountain bike for hours in Wales’s rugged Afan Valley.
But nine months after showing symptoms of coronavirus, she said she "can't imagine doing that", is unable to work and is dealing with symptoms ranging from 40% hearing loss to arthritis and shortness of breath.
"The brain fog is something else, it's not just a little bit of forgetting, I'm looking at one of the my kids and thinking 'which one are you?' It's scary," 46-year-old Sarah told Wales Live.
"I went for a walk for the first time in weeks yesterday and I was really struggling with pain my knees and my heart rate went right up, I'm not convinced I'll ever get back to how I was before.
"It's really hard on the girls as well, they ask sometimes if we can do certain things and I have to say no because I'm too unwell. We used to go hiking but I can't do it anymore. I walked up the stairs the other day with a pulse oximeter on my finger.
She explained: "From sitting down in the living room to walking upstairs the reading went up to 144. The alarm goes off if it goes above 133, I was exhausted and my heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest.”
A week after the first lockdown began in March, Sarah said one of her daughters came home with "a bit of a cough" and Sarah then had "a week of headaches from hell".
She was unable to get a coronavirus test but she’s sure that’s what laid her low: “What else could it be?” she says. “I was the fittest person around."
And the long-term effects of the decease are still with her, months later: "It's ruined me, absolutely ruined me. The more and more time that goes by, the more I become housebound," Sarah says.
Sarah has formed a “long Covid” support group, calling for the establishment of specialist centres for the diagnosis and treatment of the condition.
"We need diagnosis, not rehab,” she says. She adds that the list of symptoms is still growing: I've got something wrong with my heart at the moment but the waiting list for the cardiologist is really long.”
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