By Paul Garner in BMJ Opinion.
“If my husband had said he was still sick with covid-19 after a month, I’d say he was milking it.” Straight talking from a Liverpudlian woman on one of my WhatsApp groups in April when I had been ill for a month; what would she say to me now at 95 days? I am unable to be out of bed for more than three hours at a stretch, my arms and legs are permanently fizzing as if injected with Szechuan peppercorns, I have ringing in the ears, intermittent brain fog, palpitations, and dramatic mood swings. Am I milking it? Is the virus still there? Or do I have CFS/ME?
I am cautious about labelling conditions, particularly with a new virus that has many different effects on our bodies. I tried to avoid the term “post-viral fatigue” in an earlier article as fatigue was there from day 1, and I was concerned the term could lead to people underestimating other covid related symptoms indicating life-threatening effects. Now, at week 14, my symptoms have progressed. The waves of mind boggling headaches and severe prostration have ebbed. An excellent hospital consultant examined me. “Post-viral fatigue”, he said. “You don’t need an echocardiogram or CT scan. I recommend rest and pace.”
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