Woman ‘different person’ due to long Covid symptoms

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A woman says she was confident and outgoing before contracting Covid in 2020.

Victoria Gibson survived the disease but has been left with long-lasting effects, including flashbacks, panic attacks, low moods, anxiety, breathlessness, and chest pains.

The 47-year-old now needs an oxygen machine at home and is often unable to walk from her bedroom to the bathroom.

Sadly, her ongoing health issues mean she missed ringing the bells at her local church on Christmas, something she does every year.

As she continues to fight back against long Covid, she admits the symptoms have “turned her into a different person”.

Victoria, from Chorley, Lancashire, told Manchester Evening News: “I used to love ringing the church bells, especially at Christmas, but I’m still not well enough to help this year.

“I’m a changed person since I had Covid. I was a reasonably fit, confident and outgoing person who enjoyed going out and socialising with my friends.

“But Covid has affected me both physically and mentally. I have flashbacks, panic attacks, low moods, anxiety, as well as breathlessness and chest pains.

“Sometimes I’m unable to walk from the bedroom to the bathroom. I need to use the oxygen machine at home and I can’t go bellringing anymore.”

Victoria caught Covid twice in 2020 and was hospitalised on one occasion.

She recalls feeling as though she could hardly breathe, almost as if she were drowning.

After the second bout in October of that year, she developed long-term Covid symptoms.

To this day, she is still being treated by an NHS long Covid clinic, which is now helping doctors and scientists research the condition.

People can volunteer for the Help BEAT Coronavirus campaign by registering with an organisation called Research for the Future, which is a National Institute for Health and Care Research Network Greater Manchester initiative working across Greater Manchester and the northwest.

Around 3,000 have already volunteered to take part in the research at the Salford Royal Hospital, which is part of Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust.

Anyone over 18 in the North who currently has long Covid symptoms can take part.

Victoria, who works for HM Land Registry, said being involved with a research team at Salford Royal Hospital has had a positive impact on her life and has helped put her in touch with other patients.

She helps the team by answering questionnaires and keeping a diary of her symptoms.

Now urging others to get involved to help find out more about long Covid, she said: “I’d encourage people with long Covid to sign-up to the research.

“Not only are you helping yourself and others, it’s a great way to meet other people who have similar stories and can share advice.

“Together we can find the answers. We can’t work in isolation. I’m confident they will find something to help all long Covid sufferers. It’s the only way we can get through this.”

Many people infected by Covid-19 feel the effects for about two weeks, but others experience lingering health problems, now known as long Covid.

Others still have symptoms such as breathlessness, fatigue and brain fog many weeks or months later.

Thousands of people in the northwest continue to struggle with the effects of long Covid and clinicians need additional people to volunteer to help them find out more about the often-debilitating condition.

Professor Nawar Bakerly, respiratory clinical lead at the Greater Manchester and Eastern Cheshire Strategic Clinical Networks, as well as a respiratory consultant at the Salford Royal Hospital, is leading long Covid research in the region as part of a campaign called Help BEAT Coronavirus.

He said: “We urgently need more people who suffer from long Covid to register for our campaign and help us find out more about the condition, so we can help the thousands of people still suffering from its effects.

“For some people, long Covid is a temporary experience. For others, it is badly affecting their health and wellbeing, with some people being too sick to work or exercise.”

People can register online here or text RESEARCH and YOUR NAME to 81400.

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