Recovering from long COVID | Sarah and Imogen’s story
“I cycled up a mountain and I could breathe properly for the first time in two years.”
Having caught COVID-19 at the very start of the pandemic in March 2020, Sarah Craddy and Imogen Phelan experienced extreme symptoms of fatigue that they were assured would go away after 14 days by their respective GPs.
I took a long weekend off before lockdown because I wasn't feeling right. I slept all weekend because I felt rough. By Thursday, I signed myself off sick at work and didn't end up going back. I couldn't eat, speak or clean my teeth."
Sarah deteriorated as her symptoms became more severe, and even very small tasks such as brushing her hair or cleaning her teeth demanded a lot of effort.
"Once I got out of bed, it would be a trade-off between making it to the bathroom or the kitchen. Crawling around the house took all my energy and it went on for around six months. My GP brushed it off because all my blood tests were coming back as 'normal'."
Both Imogen and Sarah booked a hyperbaric oxygen therapy session at HybO2 House after a year of suffering with long COVID symptoms hoping it could help them where other treatments hadn’t.
When I explain to people what the chamber is, they look at me with shock and horror that I get locked into a chamber for an hour, but when I explain what it's done, what it is and what the environment here is like, they start to get a different opinion."
Since March 2021 Sarah and Imogen have both frequented the clinic, receiving 10 back to back sessions initially, then three sessions over a two-week period. They now have one session a month as a top-up.
"After session three, I was so exhausted that I crawled up the stairs. It literally floored me. Session four, and I still came out feeling exhausted. At session five, my energy levels started picking up and then it was an upward trajectory after that."
"After session 12 I went out on my mountain bike for the evening. I cycled up a mountain and I could breathe for the first time in two years. Fully, deeply and without any pain in my lungs. It was incredible, I actually cried."