Wigan nurse speaks about year of battling Long Covid

She also told of her efforts to get help with the condition in the borough.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 7:00 am

Vicky Rushbrook-Naylor from Standish, became ill early in the Covid-19 pandemic last March and has been experiencing symptoms ever since.

More than 12 months on she has described the ongoing health problems she is continuing to fight against.

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Vicky Rushbrook-Naylor

She says that while things are now starting to move, and she has an appointment to attend a clinic, before that there were months of frustration when facilities promised by Government ministers failed to materialise and there were issues getting medical professionals to understand the condition and how to respond.

The borough’s health bodies admit they have had to learn about Long Covid as they have gone along but patients are now able to be seen at the clinic and they are hopeful the service for those still suffering debilitating symptoms months after first testing positive will now expand rapidly.

Vicky said she was working as a nurse at borough charity My Life when she became ill last March, with the first symptom being a high temperature.

However, she said that even now she is still a long way off returning to full health.

Vicky, 55, said: “I have fibromyalgia so I get a lot of aches and pains anyway and it has sent this absolutely out of control.

“At the moment I’m in constant chronic pain. It has also affected my lungs, I get out of breath walking upstairs or getting dressed.

“I’ve also got brain fog. Sometimes I can’t even get to a pen to write myself a note because I’ve forgotten it by the time I get there.

“I couldn’t have imagined this would still be going on now, 13 months later. The other week I went shopping and parked in the multi-storey without even thinking about it. I had to drag myself back up the last two flights of stairs and then I just sat in the car and cried.

“When I was working as a nurse I was up and down stairs, buzzers going off, fetching, carrying, lifting. There’s absolutely no way I could even stay awake for a shift now, never mind physically doing the job.”

Vicky said that due to previous health issues she was offered heart tests and she now has an appointment this week to attend a Long Covid clinic based around chronic fatigue in Golborne.

However, before that breakthrough she encountered frustration as she said she was told a clinic at the borough’s hospital trust was only for NHS staff.

That was despite national health bodies saying a network of Long Covid clinics, including one in Wigan, was being set up several months ago.

Vicky said the turning point for her was when GP Dr Zakariya Waqar-Uddin got involved.

She said: “Until he came on board it was a nightmare and I was getting nowhere. He said he would refer me and then chased it and chased it.

“I’ve been sent for all the tests but still had no specific help. They don’t know how to deal with it and are still learning about it.

“Right at the beginning it was farcical. I was just being batted between the GP and ringing 111.

“It’s frustrating. I haven’t worked since last March but as a nurse I could have been some use through this pandemic.”

Health bodies said patients in the borough have been able to attend a Long Covid clinic for nearly two months.

In a joint statement spokespeople at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We launched a Long Covid service formally at WWL, the Long Covid clinic, on March 8 2021, though prior to this patients were already being seen in the respiratory clinic.

“While there have been some challenges establishing a new service for an illness we are still learning about, we have worked through these and are pleased patients are now being seen and treated in a specialist clinic with the service going from strength to strength.

“It is clear many people have suffered long-term impact from Covid-19 and we want to ensure those who need support get the care they need as soon as possible.”

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