Sally's Story - Three Years On
In our Three Years On campaign, we look at the impact Covid-19 continues to have on thousands of people across the UK.
In the following weeks, we will be sharing the experiences of people that continue to be impacted by Covid-19. These are the lived experiences and opinions of the individuals themselves, not of Covid Aid. By sharing these personal stories, we aim to reflect the need for visibility and to raise the voices of the millions around the UK who continue to be affected three years on from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sally shares her story with us below:
"My Dad tested positive for Covid-19 on January 13th, 2021: his carer and I watched him suffer terribly whilst we waited for an ambulance. Dad was terrified of going to hospital but knew we couldn’t manage his symptoms at home. I was in a face mask & gloves and I’d already been sitting with him for 20 minutes by the time paramedics arrived, so they said yes when I asked if I could hug him goodbye. I knew I might never see him again as, at that time, no visitors were allowed in hospitals.
Within days, Dad was diagnosed as terminally ill with Covid Pneumonia. He & I had already agreed to no extreme measures, but the wonderful Dr Ran ensured that Dad was always comfortable. I was allowed to visit Dad, because he was dying, on Jan 20th. I was in full PPE – gloves, face mask, shield, apron – so Dad could barely see my face as I held his hand, while Dr Ran gently told Dad that he was dying. Despite being 94, Dad wasn’t ready to die – not like this. He’d wanted to die at home in bed, not alone in the hospital.
That day, I tested negative at 12 pm but not long after arriving home, I began to feel unwell and tested positive: I had Covid. Nine days later, my SATS dropped to 83 and I was taken by ambulance to the same hospital as Dad. I was on a ward three floors below him. Whilst on that ward, we Covid patients listened each night as a patient battled for hours before dying of the virus that was also coursing through our bodies. I didn't know what the death rattle was until I heard it night after night on that ward.
We listened as the lone family member who was allowed in to say goodbye, sobbed and tried to talk to their dying mum/dad/brother/sister, whilst other family members said goodbye by video link. The next night, another death, another lonely family member crying. I was witnessing all this whilst gasping for every breath, as my Dad was dying three floors above me. My sister feared she might lose us both.
My Dad fought for a month, on constant oxygen, in a hospital bed looking out through filthy windows. Covid stole his appetite and he became a tiny shadow of who he was. He suffered huge indignity and then died without any of his family beside him. Even in death, we weren’t allowed to say goodbye. Despite no longer being infectious, the funeral directors treated Dad’s body as a contaminant, refusing to dress him in his chosen outfit, and declining our request to see him.
I developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of my Covid experience. It took months of trauma therapy for me to be able to remember events from the Covid ward without reliving them. I still haven’t been able to fully grieve for my Dad.
I am one of the millions of bereaved family members, and I am also one of many people impacted by Covid-19. I was already disabled before Covid and was used to managing pain, but the pain from Covid is unique and difficult to rise above. I can’t remember what my voice should sound like as it has been husky – and often just a whisper – since January 2021. On admittance to hospital, whilst X-rays showed Covid Pneumonia and Pleurisy, my heart was healthy: my next x-ray showed that my heart was enlarged, due to Covid-19. Long Covid affects my skin, eyes, digestive system, and my sleep: insomnia is a common symptom, as is exhaustion. Still now, two years on, I struggle to carry out simple tasks due to overwhelming fatigue.
The biggest impact from Covid has been on my brain. I cannot remember the simplest things: I often can’t follow conversations. I am constantly losing words when speaking and my dyslexia is far worse as a result of Long Covid. I fear the future, that Covid’s impact on my brain could lead to dementia. I hate that the disease that killed my Dad is still causing havoc inside my brain and body.
Covid-19 took my Dad and it tried to take me, but it failed. I worked incredibly hard to beat PTSD & I use that same willpower against Long Covid: I will not let it defeat me mentally, no matter how much it impacts me physically. But my family will forever have to live with the impact that Covid had on our family – and we stand with over 200,000 families in the UK, all of whom seem to have been forgotten about."
We thank Sally for sharing her story with us.
Covid Aid continues to support those significantly impacted by Covid-19. Even three years on from the pandemic, people continue to be affected by a range of Covid-19 related issues including Long Covid, grief and bereavement, mental health and financial issues.
If you are struggling with grief and bereavement you can chat online directly with a specially trained bereavement counsellor using GriefChat
For moral support and access to a range of resources, you can join our online Support Community
You can leave a special dedication on our Wall of Reflection in memory of a loved one to mark National Day of Reflection on the 23rd of March