A north-east man suffering from long-term symptoms of Covid-19 has admitted he fears he will never fully recover.
Callum O’Dwyer, from Westhill, was diagnosed with coronavirus in March last year – meaning he was among the first people in the region to contract it.
Before becoming ill, the 29-year-old was a keen runner and also stood as a candidate for Scottish Labour.
However, Covid-19 has left him unable to walk significant distances or even sit up for long periods.
The engineer is trying to stay positive, and hopes to be well by Christmas – but fears he may never get better.
“I saw recently people who caught long-term symptoms of SARS, which is very similar to Covid, had an average recovery time of 12 to 18 months,” he said.
“I am coming up to 12 months and I am hoping that some time before Christmas I might turn a corner and really start to recover.
“However, there is also the possibility that I will never fully recover and I will always need looked after in some form. I could always have restrictions on what I can and can’t do.
“That would be a horrific outcome. I can’t even articulate how terrified I am of that – I’m a 29-year-old guy who previously ran 10ks, had a career and a range of other hobbies and that would be terrible.
“I am trying to keep an eye on the recovery slot as best I can and that’s what keeps me going.
“I can’t rule out the idea I will never recover, and I need to be aware of and make other people aware of it too.”
Callum was made redundant from his job as an engineer in January because of the impact of the pandemic on his employer.
Although he attempted to return to work in August, he was unable to sit at his computer for a significant length of time.
“I was set to go back to work on the Monday two weeks after I started feeling unwell and then the breathlessness came back,” he said.
“I have never been so overwhelmed by tiredness and weakness. I couldn’t pick dishes up to wash them because my hands were so weak. I was struggling to pick up a water bottle – it was too heavy for me.
“I have basically never fully recovered in the year since I got ill.
“I returned to work in August after being on furlough and they were quite flexible with me, but at the start I was only doing an hour and a half a day because the act of sitting at the computer was too difficult.
“I had terrible brain fog which completely clouded my ability to problem-solve or recall things.
“It’s had a huge impact on my career. My girlfriend is based in Edinburgh and it’s been difficult for our relationship because I can’t drive far – she has to come to see me.
“I basically need personal care. I need a lot of tasks done for me.
“I have had a relapse in the last month. I have a limit on how long I can sit up a day, and my mobility has significantly decreased. I can’t drive very far. It is debilitating and it’s touched every part of my life. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
Under statistics used to track the response to the pandemic, Callum is classed as having recovered.
He believes a lack of public awareness of Long Covid could lead to people taking risks.
Now he has pleaded with the public to stick to the rules – highlighting the “devastation” the virus has caused him.
“We have only judged the success or failure of the response by measuring on life and death,” Callum said.
“By the statistics they are using, I am considered to be recovered. That stems from the perception at the start that outcomes like death have an age-based component. From various studies that have been done, they reckon 10 to 20% of people have long-term symptoms of one kind or another.
“Because that story about Long Covid isn’t really being told, I think people can be quite cavalier about catching it.
“We might be in the home stretch now but don’t under any circumstances do anything to put yourself at risk of catching it.
“The impact and devastation it can have on your life is so great that even now, trying to make sure we do things as carefully as possible will make a huge difference and will save a huge chunk of your life.”