Rachel Gunn, a 28-year-old from Ireland, has taken to Instagram to share the terrifying post-Covid symptoms she experienced two months after first testing positive for the virus.
"Do not ignore post-Covid symptoms," she wrote in a lengthy statement alongside a photo of herself in a hospital bed. "Here's me in hospital January 5th 2021 with MULTIPLE pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) in both of my lungs.
"I contracted Covid-19 back in October 2020," she continued. "I was fairly sick with it, in bed for nearly 2 weeks, breathless, tired, achy, headaches etc. Once I felt semi better I went back to work. I have never been 100% since. For 3 months I had fatigue, anxiety and stress was through the roof and I experienced lung pain when I exercised but considered these normal post covid symptoms as I was able to go about my day semi normally and do minimal exercise and from what I read, I just had to get on with it and the symptoms would ease eventually."
However, in December during her last week of work before Christmas, her health "suddenly" went downhill.
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"For nearly 2 weeks I was so breathless I couldn't even get up the stairs without feeling like I ran 5k, even getting up and going to the bathroom was exhausting. I had migraines, heart palpitations, back pain and extreme fatigue, sleeping for 15-16 hours a day and still needing to spend the whole day in bed. I wasn't getting any better and my mom told me to go to A&E, I didn't want to as I felt it was too much of a fuss, surely this is how everyone post-Covid feels from time to time, I was just going through a tired patch.
"Once in the A&E a CT scan showed both my lungs were COVERED in pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) and my heart had been strained, I was admitted for 3 days and started on blood thinners. I now have to stay on blood thinners for at least a year, maybe more. I am now susceptible to blood clots and this will affect my life forever. I am 28 years old, active, non-smoker, otherwise healthy."
Rachel pleaded with her followers to share her story, saying she wants those who have had Covid to be able to recognise the warning signs of what could come afterwards.
"I want to get this across to anyone who is experiencing a WORSENING of symptoms months after Covid not to ignore it. Extreme breathlessness is not something to be ignored. I am extremely lucky to have found out about my clots when I did," she finished.
Rachel's followers were quick to thank her for sharing her story and wish her a speedy recovery.
"So important to share this warning Rachel," one user wrote. "I'm sure the road to recovery is going to be tough but really wishing it to be as quick as possible for you and so relieved that it was caught in time."
"Hope you get better soon!" another user said. "I've just had a phone call with the doctor who says they think I had Covid in November as I've never been 100% since the initial illness either. Thank you for sharing your story."
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"So sorry to hear what you're going through," someone else added. "I hope you feel better soon and thank you for sharing this. A lot of people need to read this and cop on!"
"You're brilliant for sharing this," another wrote. "Covid is absolutely awful (I had it myself and was sick for months) and too many people are far too casual about it. This is the wake-up call a lot of people need. Hope you make a full recovery. Take care."
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the most commonly reported long-term Covid symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain and chest pain.
Other reported long-term symptoms include difficulty concentrating and thinking, depression, muscle pain, headache, intermittent fever and heart palpitations.
More serious long-term complications have been reported and affect different organ systems in the body, these include:
Cardiovascular: inflammation of the heart muscle
Respiratory: lung function abnormalities
Renal: acute kidney injury
Dermatologic: rash, hair loss
Neurological: smell and taste problems, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, memory problems
Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, changes in mood