Ali was sat hunched up almost in a child like way when we first met. Her face was almost tortured as she started to tell me about her 19cm of life with Covid. I will start to write about her by saying that she has suffered with Long Covid for months. Long Covid is something we have all heard about but I really had no idea. You rarely truly know about something until you come into contact with someone who has had it, or you get it!
I could see in her eyes, and in her body language how the exhaustion and pain of Long Covid had taken its toll on her.
She started to tell me about how it had all started. She and her family got Covid in March 2020. She was in the midst of producing a TV series for Discovery, and I quickly learned that this woman ran her life at 150 miles per hour all the time, and in every aspect of her life. Be it swimming, her safe place and passion, or her family life with her husband and son. All full on all the time. So getting Covid hit her hard.
She describes that time as being “Petrified for my family and myself, the death tolls were going up, we didn’t know at that time how it would affect children and my son had it, it was nothing short of terrifying”
It was varying degrees of terror – I didn’t know when the worse would end.
She described the pain of Long Covid, as “I would be asleep on the sofa by 3pm in the afternoon. I was so exhausted physically. There was this massive heavy weight of fatigue that I simply couldn’t shake. Normally I am so fit and healthy, I love to swim, it is my sanctuary, but even getting out of bed in the morning was agony. The muscular fatigue too was excruciatingly painful. I would think is this now my life?
Over the time I was working with Ali I saw her diminishing as a woman in front of my eyes. Sometimes she didn’t have the words to describe the pain she was in, or the haunting thoughts she was having, wondering if her life was now going to be only about managing pain.
I took a walk with her and her young son George a lively little boy who talked of his thoughts about Covid “At first I thought Covid was freedom! No school! Hooray! But after a while I thought it was terrible. I missed playing with all my school friends, and Mummy was poorly all the time, she had to go to the hospital a lot, and I couldn’t do stuff with her that I use to do. I was quite cross with Covid.”
I think that was the tough part for Ali, not being able to be the mother she had been with her son. I think if you have been so active in all aspects of your life then suddenly it is all taken away from you it must be so hard to take mentally and emotionally.
Ali was lucky she found support with her work colleagues, her family, counseling and a consultant who specialised in Long Covid.
But it was more than just luck. I saw a women disappearing each day into a world of pain, and I saw that same woman fight! She fought for her life back; she overcame her own thoughts to find any way out of the prison this disease had created for her.
Ali is a Head of Production and is now back at work, and back surfing the waves with her son. A trial drug has helped, but she helped herself, and in doing so she found a new meaning to her life. A reset, a re balancing of priorities. She even says, “Had it not been for Covid I would maybe have not found this new meaning to my life, I’m not saying I wanted all this to happen to me, but I’m kind of glad it did”