Lyn Taylor is gradually regaining her fitness after becoming one of the first patients to join a pioneering Long Covid clinic, set up by the NHS in Doncaster.
The retired schoolteacher from Sprotbrough, Doncaster, who previously enjoyed an active life, tested positive for Covid-19 in March 2020, shortly before the first lockdown.
The virus attacked her kidneys and many other organs leaving her debilitated.
“It was around three months of continual illness, I was constantly breathless, had headaches, rashes, mobility issues and lost my sense of smell and taste”, said Lyn, 67.
But thanks to help from neighbours, who kept her stocked up with doorstep delivery provisions, she battled through the illness and life seemed to be steadily getting back to normal.
“But then on October 15 it was just like I had hit a brick wall. I remember the date so well, I started with pain everywhere, sleep was impossible and I had no idea what it was, though it was eventually diagnosed as Long Covid, added Lyn.
“I was continually tired, I had suffered from fatigue before, but nothing on this scale. I started researching what was known of the illness at that time, which was fairly limited, and also started trialling my own remedies, including altering my diet to eat, for example, more oily fish, vegetables and fruit.
“I also had a cold shower every morning and a hot bath and night with Epsom salts to ease the pain and rashes.
“I was retaining a lot of water due to Long Covid affecting my lymphatic system and I went from a 12/14 dress size to 18/20 within weeks. I was in regular contact with my GP who told me about the start of a local Long Covid assessment clinic, which I agreed to attend.”
The clinic is part of a new Long Covid Pathway run by staff from Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) at the St John’s Information Centre, Balby.
Specialist Physiotherapist Stephanie Blythe manages the clinic which cares for patients referred by Doncaster GP practices with a range of physical and psychological problems arising from Covid.
“Since February this year we have seen around 160 patients whose GPs have ruled out any other medical issues and diagnosed Long Covid. Many of them had Covid in the first wave in 2020. Their symptoms include chronic fatigue, breathlessness, pain, palpitations, anxiety and depression, said Stephanie.
“We deliver regular online groups offering physical and psychological input for patients. We have also set up a face-to-face group which incorporates exercise with relaxation and breathing control techniques. We also see patients on a one-to-one basis if their needs are more complex or they prefer this option. Either way we tailor our treatment to each individual’s needs.
“We are very much in our infancy and currently recruiting staff to the team but we expect the service to be in place for some time as current research suggests as many as one in 10 people who have had the Covid virus will develop Long Covid.
“Many people with long COVID will improve independently and can access ‘yourcovidrecovery.co.uk’ for information and self-management advice. If you are concerned about your symptoms or aren’t seeing an improvement over time then please speak to your GP.”
Meanwhile, 16 months since first developing Covid, Lyn Taylor is feeling more positive and continuing with her recovery programme, supported by staff at the clinic.
She said: “I have started guided Tai Chi exercises, which I currently have to do sat down and the online exercise and discussion sessions are very helpful as I can see I am not alone in dealing with this horrible illness.”
“I am seeing gradual improvements as a result, which is keeping me motivated and focussed on getting better.”