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Member Story: Contracting COVID-19 as a disabled woman

Our member Helen shares her story about getting COVID-19 as a disabled woman.

Helen had been in hospital for 2 weeks while she was being treated for her underlying health condition that had worsened because of a chest infection. A week after returning home she contracted Covid-19.

“It’s been my biggest fear for 2 years.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Helen has been isolating and was unable to continue her volunteering position at a local day centre. Helen had stopped accompanying her husband to the weekly food shop and became unable to frequently visit her elderly parents, who are also vulnerable. Whilst she was shielding, many people were unable to visit Helen inside her home as it was too risky.

After dodging the virus for two years, Helen said, “I wasn’t as scared as I thought I’d be when I got it, but I was apprehensive. Emotionally, I felt relieved it was this Omicron variant and that I’d had 3 vaccines – otherwise I think I would have been a lot more worried.”

Thankfully, Helen was eligible for the new anti-viral treatment that is still in trials; she contacted her GP as soon as she tested positive and registered her test.

“It was frustrating waiting for a call back as it took a while to get the go ahead but once I had, the drugs came the next day. I was able to take them straight away and I started improving the next day. I didn’t get any side effects and I’m on day 10 now, and almost all of my symptoms have disappeared.”

Helen said, “Whilst it was unpleasant, it wasn’t as bad as I initially feared after everything I’d been told. The media and government messaging led to me fearing for my life all this time. Being vulnerable is scary after two years of being told I was such a high risk and that I could become so unwell."

Helen told us that she’s now working on building her strength and mobility up again and trying to get fresh air when she can.

We asked Helen what advice she would give to other disabled people who have COVID19.

“Do what you would do if you had flu or a cold, rest as much as you can and listen to your body. Nourish yourself. Try not to lay down too much as this can impact your lungs. If you can keep up with some light exercise, do – it will help in the long run."

Helen says that she now feels ‘freer’ that she’s had the virus. Even though she knows she could get it again – having gotten through it this time Helen feels that she’s not as scared and worried and feels she’s able to reclaim her life in some way.

“Lockdown, isolation and fear of the unknown has been so much worse than actually getting the virus. Having said that, I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t had been vaccinated and been treated for my health condition recently. I do feel grateful for getting it 2 years into rather than earlier on in the pandemic. It could have been a lot worse.”

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