In mid-March Paul Garner developed what he thought was a “bit of a cough”. A professor of infectious diseases, Garner was discussing the new coronavirus with David Nabarro, the UK’s special envoy on the pandemic. At the end of the Zoom call, Nabarro advised Garner to go home immediately and to self-isolate. Garner did. He felt no more than a “little bit off”.
Days later, he found himself fighting a raging infection. It’s one he likens to being “abused by somebody” or clubbed over the head with a cricket bat. “The symptoms were weird as hell,” he says. They included loss of smell, heaviness, malaise, tight chest and racing heart. At one point Garner thought he was about to die. He tried to Google “fulminating myocarditis” but was too unwell to navigate the screen.
Garner refers to himself wryly as a member of the “Boris Johnson herd immunity group”. This is the cluster of patients who contracted Covid-19 in the 12 days before the UK finally locked down. He assumed his illness would swiftly pass. Instead it went on and on – a rollercoaster of ill health, extreme emotions and utter exhaustion, as he put it in a blog last week for the British Medical Journal.
There is growing evidence that the virus causes a far greater array of symptoms than was previously understood. And that its effects can be agonisingly prolonged: in Garner’s case for more than seven weeks. The professor at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine says his experience of Covid-19 featured a new and disturbing symptom every day, akin to an “advent calendar”.
He had a muggy head, upset stomach, tinnitus, pins and needles, breathlessness, dizziness and arthritis in the hands. Each time Garner thought he was getting better the illness roared back. It was a sort of virus snakes and ladders. “It’s deeply frustrating. A lot of people start doubting themselves,” he says. “Their partners wonder if there is something psychologically wrong with them.”
Source: The Guardian