‘Don’t Think It Won’t Happen To You’ Warns Long-COVID Sufferer

Written by on 30 November 2020

Calls by Derbyshire’s Director of Public Health Dean Wallace to stick to government restrictions have been echoed by an Amber Valley woman suffering from long Covid.

Retired business owner Viv Palfreyman – who started Acorn Training in Ripley in 1996 – started to feel unwell after a 24-hour flight home from Australia in late February.

Ten months on, the 67-year-old is one of an estimated 60,000 people across the UK suffering the devastating long-term effects of the virus which have left her unable to do everyday tasks.

Mrs Palfreyman said she thought she was having an asthma attack when she started having difficulty breathing on her return home to Codnor.

She said: “I have suffered from asthma since I was 18-months-old so when I started wheezing I just thought it was the after-effects of travelling for so long.

“After about 10 days I phoned my GP practice to ask if I could borrow a nebuliser as I couldn’t get my breath and they advised me to speak to the Covid helpline.

“At the time I wasn’t coughing a lot but had completely lost my sense of smell and everything had a salty taste like I’d been swimming in seawater. I didn’t know then that this was a symptom.

“My doctor said that I probably had Covid. She prescribed some steroids and antibiotics and as I was at the 10-day point when it can get much worse, said I should pack a suitcase and told me to ring for help if I needed it.”

Shortly after things got worse and she developed a hernia from coughing so hard. The illness left Mrs Palfreyman bedridden for three months and she continues to suffer from extreme fatigue. She also finds it very hard to sleep which caused her blood pressure to rise and the hernia has caused digestive problems.

“It just went on, and on and on. I couldn’t do anything as I was just so incredibly tired and breathless all the time. It also affected my mental health because I felt totally dependent on my family which made me feel useless. I put on weight as I wasn’t moving around and I just felt a complete mess,” she said.

Although she says she now feels more like herself and is able to enjoy crafting at home, she is still unable to tackle basic tasks like cleaning or shopping for food. She says she can’t walk more than fifty yards without becoming breathless and it has affected her confidence to do things, physically and mentally.

And she is urging other people to follow the guidelines to protect the people they love.

“I feel fortunate that I have my husband, my son and grandson in our bubble so I didn’t suffer from loneliness.

“But it does put huge pressure on your family if they are trying to go to work and school and do the right thing when others aren’t abiding by the guidelines. They are so worried that I’ll catch it again.

“And it infuriates me when people go around assuming everything will be all right. They are putting their family and vulnerable people at enormous risk. Don’t think it won’t happen to you,” she said.

It is important that people should continue to wash their hands regularly, stay apart and wear a face covering, unless exempt.

Anyone with any of the three main symptoms should isolate for 10 days immediately and book a test online www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

Everyone else in their household or support bubble must stay at home for 14 days.

For details of the latest government restrictions in place visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/coronavirus

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