Georgia Walby is still unable to return to her job due to the effect Covid-19 has had on her (Image: Georgia Walby)
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A woman who was diagnosed with Covid-19 months ago said she has had almost all 100 symptoms of its long-term effects, from being unable to put words together in a sentence to hallucinating
Georgia Walby, 53 and from Llantrisant, Wales, used to work 52-hour weeks as a neurolinguistic programming trainer and a volunteer.
But now she can barely leave the house because of how weakened she is.
She described to the WalesOnline the terrifying feeling of not being able to formulate a sentence as she called for Long Covid – the term used to describe the long-term effects of the disease – to be recognised as a medical condition so people can have the right support.
“I’ve had nearly every symptom in the book, and there’s a list of over 100 – from crawling skin and really strange stuff, at one point my nervous system went haywire,” she said.
Georgia described how there was a time where she thought 'I wouldn't see the morning'
(Image: Georgia Walby)
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“In the middle of June, there was some horrendous, scary stuff and I struggled to walk as I couldn’t coordinate my legs and when I went to speak I couldn’t form long words.
“I even started hallucinating. One night in bed I looked at the wall and saw a giant orange spider.”
It is believed one in 20 of those who contract the virus are hit by long-lasting effects.
Georgia, one of the founding members of the 300-strong Long Covid group in Wales, was one among the many with such condition who claimed they were unable to return to work for how debilitated they were.
The 53-year-old would work up to 52 hours a week
(Image: Georgia Walby)
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While used to dedicating long hours to her job and volunteering at an animal rescue centre near her home, now Georgia rarely leaves her house and won't risk socialising for fear of contracting the virus again.
She added: “I got ill in March before the first lockdown. The surgeries were closed and I wasn’t ill enough to go to hospital. The advice from NHS 111 at the time was that if you were well enough to watch TV you should stay at home and recover.
“I spent ages pondering that because a lot of mental confusion came along with Covid, I live on my own and I couldn’t work out whether I was well enough to watch the TV or not. I realise with hindsight that I didn’t have the presence of mind to make that decision.”
Georgia described how she "didn’t think I’d see morning" when she struggled to breathe on a few nights during a two-week period.
The neuro-linguistic programming trainer said she still isn't able to return to her job
(Image: Georgia Walby)
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On day nine of her illness she began to feel better and tentatively went to her allotment as all her symptoms were gone. The next day, she felt “terrible” again.
At one point, Georgia ended up in A&E because she was struggling to breathe but, thankfully, her oxygen levels recovered by the time she got to the hospital and she was not admitted.
This has been the pattern of her life since then, each week she has a day she feels better but then the symptoms hit her again.
“I’m basically still in lockdown. I can go out for an hour or so a day but I’m exhausted.”
“I worry about being re-infected and wonder what damage I have already done without having any idea. There’s a lot of people getting imaging with heart and lung damage showing up and we don’t know if that’s repairable or not. I don’t even know whether I’ve got organ damage."
After eight weeks of symptoms, Georgia went to her GP when the surgeries re-opened. She was offered antibiotics for a secondary chest infection and was sent for a chest X-ray.
“The antibiotics didn’t do much and the X-ray isn’t the right imaging, I need an MRI or CT scan to pick up any damage,” she said.
She said her doctor had given her a clinical diagnosis of coronavirus, even though she had never had a positive test, and said “none of the GPs I spoke to have argued with a diagnosis of Covid-19.”
Georgia hopes financial and employment support will be available for people with Long Covid in the future.
“A lot of people in paid employment are struggling to get sick notes or sick pay as we’re struggling to get it recognised.
“A GP won’t put long Covid on a sick note so people are being pressured back to work.”