Highland Covid-19 survivor calls for more mental health support
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A HIGHLAND Long Covid sufferer has marked a year since contracting the condition by calling for more mental health support.
Sarah MacDougall (43) said that she went from being relatively fit and healthy to needing a zimmer within a matter of weeks of contracting the condition.
Mrs MacDougall has been off work for a year and does not know when she will return.
As she explains, her biggest concern remains that people do not believe the virus is as dangerous as she knows it to be.
She said: "It's a horrible, horrible nasty virus.
"I have good days and bad days. I thought I would be over it by now. But being 'over it', is a long way to come yet.
"I can't believe it is a year and it has been one of the hardest, if not the hardest, year of my life."
She continued: "Who can believe that I was fairly healthy this time last year and then I was walking with a zimmer within a matter of weeks?
"I walked into Raigmore and was on a ventilator four hours later. I was dying."
Mrs MacDougall, of Inverness, had been off work with a short-term illness when Covid struck. She was rushed into hospital last April, and spent three weeks in ICU in Raigmore. She spent two in an induced coma, as staff battled to keep her alive.
"John Smith, my consultant at the hospital says that I was the first person who was as ill as I was, who survived Covid," she said.
"I didn't not know how bad I was until I talked to him. I have no memory of what happened at the time, he told me how ill I actually was.
"He and the team at Raigmore saved my life."
Mrs MacDougall, who is married to Harry, said: "I have managed to get counselling, but only because I was an NHS worker and able to access it through occupational health. The NHS has to take a serious look at finding ways to support people's mental health.
"When you say Long Covid people just roll their eyes. I have had lots of support from my physio and other NHS staff members to help me get physically well. But it is the mental ill health that comes along with Covid is completely ignored.
"It may well be a year on but the memory will last forever. It is the details I don't know.
"My mum kept a diary so I know what was happening, but I have an ongoing battle with my mental health. I have good family support and I am surrounded by people who love me, so I was able to reach out for support in the ways that other people may not be able to.
She added: "I am lucky, but I will never be able to shake off how close to death I was – and how those people who prayed for me, and looked after me in hospital have kept me alive.
"But there is not enough support for people, I know other people with Long Covid who have been left with nothing, no one to speak to. Unless you have been through it, you would not know what this virus puts your body through.
"Before the counselling I was always getting flashbacks. It was very scary. The frustration gets to me every day."