Long Covid: NHS worker told by doctors that her ‘strange’ symptoms were anxiety actually had long Covid

Covid-19 can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone

An NHS worker living with long Covid has told NationalWorld that she just wants to feel like herself again after suffering from debilitating symptoms for 18 months.

Sarah Nunn, 38, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, received the diagnosis after six months, despite not knowing she had contracted Covid in the first place and not suffering any initial symptoms of the virus.

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Around 1.7 million people in the UK currently have long Covid, with symptoms including fatigue, joint pain and shortness of breath.

Sarah Nunn, 38, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk (R), and her husband Justin (L)

The NHS housekeeper at West Suffolk Hospital was initially told that her symptoms were due to stress and anxiety caused by her role.

Ms Nunn has been at the hospital for 12 years and worked through the pandemic up until December 2020.

She was first signed off with stress for three months and returned to work in March 2021, only to suffer a “crash” due to her symptoms by May in the same year.

Ms Nunn hasn’t been able to work since.

‘My symptoms just didn’t fit’

The mum-of-three said she “literally hounded” her GP surgery and saw five different doctors in total “until someone took me seriously”.

“I just knew it wasn’t down to anxiety, as my symptoms just didn’t fit,” she added.

Ms Nunn said if she had been recognised as officially having Covid, then she “may have been taken more seriously sooner.”

However, she had no Covid symptoms at the time of infection.

Towards the end of 2020, she was experiencing a wide range of debilitating symptoms and said her daily life has been “horrendous”.

In January 2021, the fatigue she experienced “was like something I’d never felt before.”

She said her eyes were unable to cope with any light and that she also had blurred vision, eye floaters, dizziness, stabbing pains in her head and slurred speech to name but a few of her symptoms.

After being diagnosed with long Covid, Ms Nunn said she was “in denial to start with,” as she felt like she was “being fobbed off yet again,” especially because of the previous six months.

“At this point I hadn’t heard of anyone else having the same range of symptoms as I have,” said Ms Nunn.

As others began to speak of their experiences, the NHS worker added that she “began to realise there must be something in it, as I had some really strange symptoms and sensations that I struggled to explain”.

When another long Covid sufferer explained on a Facebook page, of which she is a member, that they had the same sensations she was experiencing, Ms Nunn said she “started to accept” her diagnosis.

“I actually find the Facebook group really quite comforting and it’s really helped me. Fellow sufferers share their experiences and support others,” she added.

‘I didn’t want to live like this anymore’

Ms Nunn, who said she began to feel suicidal before her diagnosis, added that she has now learnt to pace herself and has regular consultations with the long Covid clinic via phone calls.

She has also been referred to the chronic fatigue clinic.

“For months, I really couldn’t do very much at all. It was a struggle to just get washed and dressed, so most days I didn’t, but trying to raise three kids with this was exhausting,” said Ms Nunn.

“My children and husband witnessed me literally begging them to let me go, I didn’t want to live like this anymore. I was just a shell of my normal self.”

She added: “I’ve grieved my old life so badly. I just want to be me again. I’ve gone through feeling angry, guilty, frustrated and constantly worrying.”

Although she’s not been able to return to work yet, Ms Nunn is now slowly starting to add a little more to her routine and is aware of when she has pushed herself too far.

“One thing for sure is, just as you think you’re turning a corner, it returns and you have to start all over again with the recovery,” she added.

Ms Nunn, who has tried antidepressants, vitamins, juice, magnesium and vitamin D for her symptoms, and said the latter two have helped, added that she feels there is not enough support for those with long Covid.

She said: “I wish the Government would actually take this stage of the illness as seriously as they did when Covid first hit.”

“I believe we are all still learning about long Covid and I think there needs to be financial support for those who have lost their jobs or not getting paid. We didn’t ask for this illness, that has swiped us of our dignity already.”

She noted that although she’s been “incredibly lucky” and has been paid throughout her sickness period, there needs to be more financial support in place for those who have not been supported by their employers.

“My recovery has been slow, very slow, but gradually I’m becoming stronger and symptoms are lessening,” she added.

“I’ve no idea what the future looks like for me. I’m not entitled to PIP (Personal Independent Payment) and I’m unsure if, when, how I’ll return to work. It’s actually really worrying times if I’m honest.”