A retired Southport teacher has described how long Covid ‘destroyed my body and destroyed my life’.
Eric Morris, who has lived for most of his life in Southport and Formby, has now urged others suffering symptoms after contracting the virus to seek medical help as soon as they can.
And he thanked staff at the Mersey Care Long Covid Clinic in Southport for helping him with a range of support including breathing exercises, physiotherapy, mobility support and equipment.
After catching and recovering from Covid-19 earlier this year,the former PE teacher, headteacher and sports enthusiast has described how he continued to suffer ongoing symptoms and completely lost his mobility and independence, before eventually finding out he had Long Covid.
Even after testing negative for Covid-19 after several days with the virus, his health continued to deteriorate, resulting in breathlessness, loss of his physical abilities and what he terms ‘brain fog’ – he has no memory of the early days of suffering from the condition.
His wife of 47 years, Jean, became a full time carer to Eric, helping him to eat, wash and go to the bathroom. Eric recalls that he couldn’t even stand up in the kitchen long enough to make a cup of tea.
Eric said: “After Covid, I realised something wasn’t right, I couldn’t breathe properly, I could barely walk from the front door to the car without just collapsing, ‘flopping’ and gasping for breath.
“It’s destroyed my body, destroyed my life…catching this dreadful disease.”
Diagnosing Long Covid
Eric and Jean eventually sought help from their local GP to have the debilitating symptoms checked out. Their GP recognised the signs of Long Covid and referred Eric to the Mersey Care Long Covid clinic in Southport for treatment.
There, the Long Covid team assessed his condition and started him on a programme of rehabilitation and support including breathing exercises, physiotherapy, mobility support and equipment to help improve his condition and support him to become more independent at home again.
Thanking the Long Covid team for their support, Eric said: “They are special people at the Long Covid service. They can’t do enough for me.
“The benefit I’ve had from their advice and support, their enthusiasm, their humour, their understanding of my situation – thank you just doesn’t seem enough.”
How to get help
Eric has come a long way since his diagnosis and is starting to see the results of his treatment, becoming more mobile and learning to control his breathing again. Reflecting on his experience over the past year, Eric’s advice to others is to be aware that there can be longer term effects from having Covid-19, and if they spot any ongoing symptoms to make an appointment with their GP to get a referral to the Long Covid clinic.
He shared: “I know for a fact there are people struggling with Long Covid, who have similar symptoms to myself but don’t realise that they’ve had Covid-19 and that there are after effects.
“You must make an appointment to see your GP, who can refer you to the Long Covid team. Something can be done; these people really can make a difference.”
Lara Grant, physiotherapist at the Mersey Care Long Covid clinic in Southport, said: “We have seen definite improvements in our patients. Sometimes it’s just little things that people don’t realise they’ve missed, like being able to unload the dishwasher or shave without getting out of breath.
“If you think you might have Long Covid, do contact your GP and they can refer you into our service. We have GPs, physiotherapists and social prescribers on site to help you, but can also refer you into community services such as occupational therapy.”
Know the symptoms
Long Covid is a term to describe the effects of Covid-19 that continue for weeks or months beyond the initial illness. The health watchdog NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) defines Long Covid as lasting for more than 12 weeks, but patients can be referred for treatment any time after four weeks from the start of symptoms. Long Covid symptoms commonly experienced by patients include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Chest pains
- Joint or muscle pain
- Not being able to think straight or focus (‘brain fog’)
- Persistent cough
- Loss of taste or sense of smell
The NHS advises that the best protection from getting seriously ill from Covid-19 is to get vaccinated. A seasonal (autumn) booster vaccine is now available to eligible groups for added protection this winter.
To book a Covid-19 autumn booster, or any previous doses of the vaccine, anyone eligible can book an appointment at a vaccination centre or participating pharmacy in Sefton, or find a walk-in vaccination site nearby, by visiting the NHS website at: www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination
To find out more about the Mersey Care Long Covid service, ask your GP or visit their website: www.merseycare.nhs.uk/our-services/southport-formby/long-covid-service