‘Long Covid left me screaming inside’

Mother became so weak during ‘frightening’ coronavirus ordeal that she was unable to speak

Friday, 28th May 2021 — By Calum Fraser

Henriett Draskoczy

Henriett Draskoczy: ‘It felt like my lungs were squeezed into a tiny box and I had to pump them up every time I needed to do anything’

A MOTHER has spoken of her agonising experience of “long Covid” as the council warned of the devastating impact the condition could have on social care services with another wave of the virus expected in autumn.

Henriett Draskoczy, who lives at the Andover Estate in Finsbury Park, was infected with coronavirus just before Christmas. Months of battling the disease left her so weak she was often too tired to even speak.

And while she couldn’t talk, the mother-of-four was “constantly screaming inside”, she told the Tribune, as she was bed-bound for months.

The 45-year-old said: “It felt like my lungs were squeezed into a tiny box and I had to pump them up every time I needed to do anything.

“Just going to the toilet was a massive task and my heart would start beating like crazy. It was really frightening.”

Ms Draskoczy has been an active volunteer in the community and church for years and enjoys hiking in her spare time.
Now it is an effort to climb the stairs at home.

During the height of her battle with the virus, in January and February, she was in and out of A&E as her oxygen levels plummeted below 85 per cent, when it should have been at least 95 per cent.

Councillor Sue Lukes

Ms Draskoczy resorted to scouring the internet for information on the disease and found breathing exercises which helped her, but she didn’t start turning the corner until she got an appointment with a long Covid clinic.

“I have to be very gentle with myself,” she said. “It’s not linear progress, but with little steps I am getting better.

“It’s been a real eye-opener. You can be a healthy, fit, young, professional person and this virus can come and take everything away.”

She added: “The virus is still out there and it is invisible and the whole country is so hungry to be able to get out and enjoy time together. It makes me so worried.”

Ms Draskoczy’s family have raised more than £12,000 to buy a wheelchair-friendly car to allow them to go on trips together again.
Councillor Sue Lukes, who has been leading the Town Hall’s response to the pandemic, has warned of the potential impact a second wave could have if it sweeps through younger, unvaccinated people with lockdown restrictions set to be fully lifted next month.

She said: “At the moment estimates are that the numbers needing specialist care will be in the low hundreds, but of course we don’t know how many of them will need social care or come to the council for it.

“And that is the problem: before the pandemic, we had a national crisis in social care, especially on how it is funded, which the government promised that they would fix.

“They have not fixed it, so we and anyone wanting social care, including people who are now coping with long Covid, are in the dark.”

She added: “And on top of that we face an emerging crisis of mental health in the wake of the pandemic, which will bring its own challenges. So it’s not going to be easy.”

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