It is NOT Anxiety. It is Long Covid
Jody's (not her real name) pulse leaps from an athletic high forties beats per minute to one hundred and ten beats within seconds of standing up. She sits down, and her pulse returns to 49. She stands up, and again her pulse rises to 108. As if that wasn’t debilitating, and I mean debilitating, exhaustion has recently driven her to bed for hours, sometimes days. Can you imagine not even having the strength to brush your teeth. And the nausea which comes and goes. Not to mention the sleep-ravaging breathing difficulties. Or the ‘brain fog’.
They don’t occur altogether, these symptoms. Sometimes she has a few hours respite from all of them. But she knows after 6 month of suffering that one or other will return soon. Unpredictably. Her active life is fading into memory. Gone are the regular gym sessions, and the triathlons, and the honed body of a champion break-dancer.
And the frustration at not being able to work, or at best, only sporadically. Or to execute her life plans, now consigned to the shelf.
The tachycardia scares the hell out of her. She is rushed to the emergency department at the hospital. She is triaged into Cardiology, where heart scans are ordered. Nothing untoward is revealed. She is wheel-chaired into a stress test. She is chided because she is utterly unable to exert herself. Back in the ward her self-reported symptoms are ignored by nurses and doctors. The Department has nothing further to offer. She is discharged, barely able to walk. Her discharge report proclaims a diagnosis of…….ANXIETY!
She continues her quest for resolution. Frustrated, she sequentially consults 5 separate General Practitioners. Not a single one can shed any insight on her condition. Some aren’t even aware that their advisory body, the College of General Practitioner’s, has already issued guidelines in 2022 for the management of LONG COVID.
This is not happening in a third world country. This is Australia, so justifiably proud of its high standard of health care. Jody lives in Queensland, more backward than other states in acknowledgement and management of Long Covid. After 6 months of struggle, her official medical diagnosis remains ’anxiety.’
She is not alone: thousands of Australians of all ages present with similar symptoms. As do millions (yes, millions) of people in the UK and USA, whose respective health authorities have acknowledged Long Covid, and proclaimed it a national medical emergency.