Northern Ireland news

Listen: Co Derry nurse suffering from 'Long Covid' thought she was going to 'lose her mind'

Saskia Mulder, a nurse from Magherafelt, Co Derry, contracted Covid at the start of the pandemic

A psychiatric nurse who is still suffering from breathing problems and debilitating fatigue eight months after contracting Covid-19 has told how she thought she was going to "lose her mind".

Saskia Mulder (40), from Magherafelt, Co Derry, has also experienced other 'Long Covid' symptoms including a sinus infection, vertigo and migraines.

"I had an awful fear of death and I was crying like a child," she said.

"I live on my own and I woke up many nights wondering if I needed to call 999. Nobody could help me – and the health service had nothing for people in my position, although my GP has been really good."

The GP's View: Lasting damage from any virus must be taken seriously

She said she is exhausted by three o'clock every afternoon.

"I’m so scared of re-contracting the virus and I’m scared about the idea of going back to work as a nurse – not that there’s any prospect of that at the moment," she said.

Ms Mulder credited NI Chest Heart & Stroke’s Covid 'Recovery Service' – the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland – for helping her to take control of her illness.

She first learned of the service through her GP.

"The first time I took part in a Zoom meeting with others living with Covid, people were breaking down in tears because it was their first opportunity to get real support," she said.

She added: "There’s this idea that Covid patients are taking up a lot of Health Service time with their recovery, but that’s not the case. We feel that we’ve just been left to fend for ourselves at home."

The recovery service, which was set up in July, offers support to people struggling with breathing and sleeping problems, fatigue, anxiety and isolation long after they first contracted the virus.

Catherine Murnin, the charity’s director of care services, said it is a pilot which, like 90% of its services, is funded through public donations.

"Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has meant the demand on all our services is bigger than ever, while donations have fallen," she said.

For more information see nichs.org.uk.

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