Long Covid: Writing while you’re in pain.

I had Flu for three weeks in 1997/1998, and it totally KO’d me, but at least it ended. Life resumed.

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Yesterday afternoon I went back to my GP, and the walk there was painful; the most painful one ever. Four years on from the pandemic’s first wave, I asked him: “Apart from emphysema (which truly must be beyond horrific), have you personally encountered people with long term, covid-related joint pain?”

He looked at me plainly, squarely… and replied: ‘Did you catch it before the injections?’

When I replied in the affirmative, he resoundingly replied ‘Yes’, and told me of the cases of inexplicable, recurring symptoms that seem to defy explanation or basic rationale, citing covid-toe as an example. As I left the consultation room, I turned and thanked him for this information. To hear his confirmation – after years of dismissive looks, and even friends not believing you – meant the world. I can’t explain to anybody how I’ve dislocated both knees, or torn my ACL. If I say it started when I caught Covid, you receive a funny, almost dismissive look. It hasn’t got a ‘label’ so it gets quenched and forgotten in most peoples’ minds.

I then picked up my prescription from the chemists next door, made some joke about: which costs more – this, or vodka? – and stumbled home.

Painful journey.

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Don’t get me wrong, I still move these legs whenever I can… because I have to. Maybe I look in pain/or maybe not, but I can guarantee, with heartfelt conviction, I am constantly assessing gradients & topography wherever I tread. If the location has a hill in the title like: Shooter’s hill, Forest hill, Hilly fields – forget it! Straight lines are fine, but if there’s a downward slope, I’m anxiously prepping.

Needless to say, long Covid has altered my life. I do not wheeze with a chronically heavy chest, and the unearthly fatigue left after several weeks, but my knees limit my mobility, and it’s an absolute toil; especially the pain, and how it knocks your confidence for simple things out the park.

Tying shoe laces leads to a grimace.  Wet leaves sticking to a footpath increase the heart-rate. Grabbing the railing at the top of the stairs, equates to hand-shaped perspiration prints.

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And it doesn’t make any sense. None of it does. For those who have/are experiencing something similar, the following (paradoxically) may make sense to you.

March 2020 to Jan 2022 – Horrendous mobility, with physiotherapy having little effect.

Jan 17th 2022 to Nov 2023 – Literally overnight, the pain subsiding (like going from 80% to 15% in intensity).

Nov 2023…  Catching a virus with similar symptoms to my friends, with me testing negative for Covid (while they’re all testing positive), and that’s it: my knees are shot all over again! But, far worse than before.

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So, you see, all this writing, creating, imagining… is a life-line; pure and simple. Soul therapy – no question. I take care in how I sit, and steadily acclimatise to the throbbing, but if I can distract myself just long enough, I can get half a leg into my fantasy worlds, and stories that bubble up some much needed hope. When a word count is achieved (much lower of late), it is progress. I cannot currently be prolific, but it is progress. When I stand, and leave the chair, the pain returns, but at least I’ve written. At least… I’ve written.

One day, I hope to be better. I want to bend again, and not claw for a supporting object to raise myself up. I’d like to jog again, too.

Here’s a useful website, if – like me – you need to know you haven’t been losing your mind. You are NOT alone.


All the very best of positive physical and mental health to you all.

James Steven Clark

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