Updated: Dec 19, 2021
With the case numbers of COVID going wild, I thought it was about time I got around to writing some stuff about was has helped me on the road with long covid and when I was very ill.
Full disclaimer: I have no medical qualifications, however I have been receiving exceptional care and support from the long covid team at UCLH for over a year and these are some of the tips and tricks I have picked up along the way.
When you have covid or are feeling symptoms:
Rest, rest, rest. Rest more than you think you need. Do less than you think your capacity is – your body may or may not be fighting an extreme battle you may or may not see, but one of the best ways to aim to avoid long term problems is to rest whenever your body is asking you to.
If your throat is soar or your cannot get rid of the thirst try electrolytes – coconut water or Lucozade depending on your taste and budget.
If your throat is blistering try freezing aloe vera juice or drink and sucking the ice cubes.
Vitamin D. Lots of people swear the spray is better than the tablets. I have no idea, but the spray works for me.
Probiotics if you have digestion problems.
Paracetamol for the headaches or crushing bone pain – and when you first get an inkling - not just when it is really bad. Your body is already maxed out – do not try give it something else to do by trying to play brave – it will take you longer to get back to neutral if you have to fight to get there because you’re exhausted.
Pacing - stop trying to do the things you think you need to, sleep when you sleep and do stuff when you’re awake. Sit down more than you think someone your age should. Create rest breaks. Use timers if you need to.
If you are not sleeping well, make sure you use your bed for sleeping, don’t spend hours there on your phone if being frustrated you’re not sleeping. Set another bed up on the sofa if you can and alternate to avoid frustration. If you can’t sleep, cool yourself down, open windows or a fan.
If it is coughing keeping you awake, lots of people report success of having a humidifier in the room, but I have not tried it.
For those of you with long covid or are just finding the symptoms are not shifting:
If you are not sleeping or having wild dreams, myself and many others seem to have had great success with antihistamines. It may be worth a try.
For the fatigue, much to my annoyance, I found cutting out gluten and sugar (all sugar, including fruit) really made a difference. But incredibly boring and I am very anti-exclusion diets so make of that what you will.
One of the key things I have been told repeatedly is not to exceed more than 40% capacity. Whatever you think you are capable of, do less than half of that. If you exceed it, your recovery time will be even more arduous.
This fits in with the idea that graded exercise therapy (doing a bit more each day) is not recommended for long covid recovery – quite simply, your body needs to direct as much energy as it can to functioning, and the more you push it, the longer the recovery time is. To keep yourself mobile, it is wise to do a bit of moving about, but if you want to do any exercise, make it way less than your “used to” and make sure it is supine (lying on your back).
If you notice you are breathing with a lot of shoulder movement, try and focus on breathing into your belly for 80% of your lung capacity, holding it for a beat and then exhaling. You may get “air-hungry” and you’re trying to teach your body to not need to panic so much about getting the oxygen in. Try and resist the urge to gasp or mouth breathe if possible (breathe through your nose whenever you can).
I notice the brain fog gets much worse when I am physically tired – write things down, make post it notes your best friends. Make habits of looking at your diary for things you are meant to be doing and may have forgotten. Set yourself reminders.
Meditation, chanting, thought work, relaxation – whatever takes you out of the drama and back into your own processing – do what works for you – but don’t forget your brain is part of your body and needs care too.
And of course it is important to remember that your brain is part of your body and deserves care and wellbeing.
Here are some extra resources in case you need them.
COUNSELLING / THERAPY
Telephone: 116 123 (24 hour)
24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Black Minds Matter
Campaign Against Living Miserably
0800 58 58 58
5pm - midnight, 7 days a week
DV / SV SPECIALIST SERVICES
National Domestic Violence Helpline
24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Tel: 0808 2000 247
Solace - www.solacewomensaid.org
Nia - www.niaendingviolence.org.uk
Rape Crisis - www.rapecrisis.org.uk
Sistah Space - www.sistahspace.org/
Refuge - www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
LAWA - www.awadv.org.uk/en/contact
Centre for Women's Justice www.centreforwomensjustice.org.uk
Southall Black Sisters - www.southallblacksisters.org.uk
Surviving Economic Abuse -www.survivingeconomicabuse.org
And I think that is probably about all I can think of for the moment.
I will add stuff as it comes up and I remember it. But please look after yourselves, rest when you can and remember to keep reminding yourself you are doing your best.