Recognising the impact of long covid

I was very impressed by your comprehensive article in The Observer examining a major but probably misunderstood aspect of the current pandemic “Long Covid can have a devastating impact”.

Thursday, 28th January 2021, 5:30 pm
Covid vaccine

Unfortunately, I was in a very good position to quickly recognise the symptoms of this secondary but no less important feature of Covid 19 before others caught on.

Many readers will remember the controversial condition known variously as M E, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or [rather insultingly] “Yuppie Flu”, which hit the headlines in the eighties. I left work in 1994 and it took me four years to recover.

Some doctors were openly hostile, doubting its existence so I moved to a practice that wasn’t. Others changed their minds and wrote books about it when they became ill themselves.

The difference with CFS was a lack of very obvious symptoms that led directly to a causation [unlike the extreme and frightening breathing difficulties encountered with Covid for example] but the subsequent pattern was very similar.

Like Justin Howard, I lived in a three storey house and knew it would be a bad day when I could only manage two! His description of starting OK in the morning and feeling washed out every afternoon, was my day to day experience. One week I missed three consecutive appointments at the optician’s down the street because I fell asleep each day. He reports trying to have conversations with sceptics on social media. Stay away from that Justin-it’s even more bad for your health going on line than it was pre-internet when M E “didn’t exist”.

Many attempts were made to establish mental or physical causes ranging from things like rheumatic fever, yeast based pathology or other bacteriological conditions. Ironically viral theories were not a front runner then but I used to support The Viral Institute which researched M E specifically. Currently one or two doctors have suggested a link between the two conditions, particularly as so much research is now underway around Covid.

Perhaps there will be some answers about CFS as well? There are still many, many people-especially children incapacitated by this wearying, rarely fatal but misunderstood condition-often in schools.

There is good reason to be hopeful for the future several decades on. Kaela Mills points out that the nearest LC Clinic is in London but that may be one of the 80 I read are going to be set up. Specialist help and understanding has always been thin on the ground for CFS despite eventual recognition by the W H O .

This may now change with maybe some integration and “joined up thinking” around both conditions. I assume that support groups for LC will be formed. My advice is don’t expect too much immediately and if you are a dynamic sort of person accept your limitations and get the same things done but perhaps more slowly.

Dave Walsh

Rotherfield Avenue,

Bexhill-on Sea