New Mills woman struggling with long covid calls for more help for sufferers
A New Mills resident struggling with long covid problems so severe she had to leave her job just 20 minutes into her shift is calling for more to be done for sufferers.
Helen Avouris had coronavirus 14 months ago but is still suffering with severe fatigue, as well as a host of other problems, and even ended up losing her voice at one point.
Now she says the number of people suffering with long covid is only going to increase, and more needs to be done to help those who are suffering.
The 62-year-old said: “It’s not a case of dying or surviving covid, it’s what is happening to the people who are suffering long term.
"I have lost my life as I know it, I have no hobbies, I’m not able to do anything because I’m so exhausted and I have had every symptom going from gastric issues to respiratory problems to palpitations and dizziness but people just aren’t talking about it which is wrong as so many people are suffering.”
Helen is one of an estimated 60,000 long covid sufferers who have endured symptoms for over three months having contracted the virus whilst visiting her poorly daughter in Italy in spring 2020.
She said: “My daughter teaches maths near Bologna and last February I got a call saying she was in hospital with heart problems.
"There were rumblings of coronavirus but I had to be with her.
"While I was there I went to the hospital everyday and the Italian government brought in the first lockdown.”
Helen says her symptoms were so mild at the time she did not even think she had covid, she was just feeling under the weather but her symptoms persisted and after a year she is still struggling.
"It’s like having an advent calendar – you never know what you you are getting when you wake up in the morning and how you will be feeling.
"Long covid is truly debilitating but people don’t seem to understand why you aren’t well after two weeks.
"I used to love walking but I can’t do that at any distance. I was a member of two choirs but I’ve had to quit as the idea of singing fills me with dread as my voice isn’t what it was. I could barely talk for months on end and when I did I sounded like Marge Simpson all croaky and husky.”
The former drama teacher at Marple College now invigilates exams at Marple Hall School but was sent home one day after just 20 minutes when she could not cope.
She said: “I’m lucky my employers have been so understanding but for many that isn’t the case.”
Dr Zahid Chauhan, who campaigns for health equalities and was the first medic in the world to organise a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for the homeless, is now taking up the fight for sufferers like Helen.
He added: “Finding out more about this form of COVID-19 is vitally important. Until that time happens, we must have patience with sufferers and not risk their lives and wellbeing in an urgent push to normalise.
"The condition remains a complete mystery and its implications could be catastrophic. Let us not take a chance with people’s lives and instead nurse them back to health, properly.”