My Covid recovery

 2024 | Opinion
Kam Winchester
Member: Carmarthenshire
That year was supposed to bring clear vision. But for many of us 2020 became a year of fear, a year of pandemic, a year of isolation, a year of grief, a year of hope, a year of lockdown, a year of feeling separated and also a year of feeling togetherness.

Many of us got hit by Covid and many didn’t feel the hit at all. By the time of my second dose of the Covid vaccine in 2021, I had already lost many people around me. Around that time I decided to keep a diary about my physical health during the pandemic.

Early days

On the 8 January 2021 I felt tired, thought nothing of it – I am getting on in years so why would I think anything else?

The next day I felt body ache so I thought I should do a test – it was negative. The following day I tested again and again it was negative. But you know when something is not right even if you can’t pinpoint the reason.

The very next day I start feeling feverish flu-like symptoms – dear oh dear! This time the test showed positive… positive lateral flow test!

What now? Well, I thought, I’ll keep an eye on this fever for a few days, let my doctor know about my health, then we go on from there.

I didn’t know how this fever would play, but I ended up in hospital on my doctor’s advice. I stayed in the hospital for two weeks. I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through this experience, where a simple task of breathing becomes a horrid journey.

I had no clue how I was going to build myself from that point

Dark times

Even though the doctors were amazing and gave me every care I needed, on one of the wards my dignity was compromised. I was left on commode for one hour without a bell to call the nurses or nursing assistant, or many times I was left on the commode without the toilet paper. I never felt this helpless in my life before, where I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t even wipe my own bottom! You are feeling helpless, but you really don’t want to start feeling sorry for yourself… those were bad days and I prefer not to talk about it.

Eventually I got home where I could start rebuilding myself. But my oxygen levels were still dropping every time I moved. Despite desperately wanting to come home to heal my body, I had no clue how I was going to build myself from that point. Complete bed-rest was clearly on the cards for me for long time. The journey wouldn’t be as simple as I thought.

I am not a doctor, but I do have a good understanding of the human body from being an acupuncturist – and most definitely I know my own body. I felt I was completely depleted, like someone took all of my energy from me – I had nothing left in me. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t walk! What a rotten vegetable stage!

However, I needed to start from somewhere, so I rang the doctor seeking answers. After 32 minutes of holding to get my turn to speak with the receptionist – if you live in UK then you probably know the surgery system. She kept saying, Speak up, I can’t hear you, Your line is not clear, or Call back later.

I thought to myself ‘later’? Really? Aside from the fact I don’t think I could wait another 32 minutes to get to speak with someone, the point is you ring the doctor and you get nothing apart from, Ring for an ambulance and get yourself to A&E. But I have just come back from the hospital and I need to recover now – I need to try to heal myself! I don’t need to go back to hospital.

Finding my own way

So I did start working on building my strength – bit by bit. Every day was a new challenge. You don’t know what and how you are going to feel today, what will flare up today, what will hurt today?

The genius of this new virus was that it attacks your whole nervous system and sends strange signals all over the place. Sometimes you have joint pain, sometimes you have muscle pain, sometimes you have a headache, sometimes you have allergic reactions, sometimes you wee in your pants, sometimes you are on the floor because your brain misfired the signal.

Sometimes your whole body goes into spasm, you forget things, you repeat yourself, you can’t sleep due to pain or just simple insomnia, your hair starts falling out – you lose your hair.

And not only are you left with all these things happening to your body, but it seems your own doctor doesn’t believe you! That is very common. My GP practice is full of young enthusiastic doctors who don’t seem to want to look or think outside the box.

From 27 January till the beginning of the May 2021, the only care I received was two sets of blood tests and two urine tests. Then I was prescribed some sleeping pills and co-codamol. And my GP said was that my hair was falling out due to stress and I should stop touching my hair! His own opinion instead of listening to a patient…

A different angle

I am a person who would meditate every day, one who knows that stress needs no place in her life, one who is very mindful about illnesses and the impact they have on the body.

With hair loss we CM practitioners see things differently – within TCM we believe that the main cause is blood deficiency. Hair will grow well if there is sufficient blood in the body, and blood in the body is governed by the spleen and the liver. A well-functioning spleen and liver will allow healthy hair growth and shine –  obviously this virus is affecting the blood.

Sudden hair loss is usually a qi and blood deficiency pattern – highly common after serious illness or trauma. Because qi and blood cannot ascend, hair on the head is not developed. The treatment method is to strongly build qi and blood.

Thanks to being an acupuncturist, I can start healing myself slowly but surely. And although there’s still a long way to go, I am really happy with my hair growth so far and I truly believe I am now on the road to recovery.

Rebuilding slowly

In the beginning I couldn’t walk or speak or even breathe properly. I couldn’t get the acupuncture treatment I needed from someone else. So I started treating myself every day with a single dose of moxa on acupuncture points.

When your brain is full of fog you are grateful for any help you are receiving

Slowly, I increased my dose of moxa and began to introduce different single point treatment. I also started getting weekly advice from my acupuncturist friends to help me. When your brain is full of fog and thinking becomes a huge task, you are grateful for any help you are receiving – and in my case I am very lucky to have highly intelligent friends around me. I started using daily acupuncture to build that lost yang energy – things like Toyohari kikei treatment with okyu moxa technique on LU 7 lie que and KID 6 zhao hai.

When I was able to walk, I started leaving the house for five minutes – that five minutes became ten minutes, and then ten became fifteen and so on. Today I am able to walk for two hours and thirty minutes without much difficulty.

I am still breathless but it has become easier over the time, thanks to various therapies working for me. Things like weekly treatment from my local osteopath and regular acupuncture from very good fellow acupuncturist Tony Todd, along with daily advice from Merlin Young, the moxa king himself – moxa on ST 36 zu san li, REN 12 zhang wan, and in the area of DU 13 tao dao & DU 14 da zhui.

I am so glad that I have amazing acupuncturist friends around me to help me. You have to find what works for you.

Onward journey

I am in a long Covid stage now. I still get all of the symptoms randomly and occasionally – they come and go as it pleases them. Not one day is similar to another but for sure there are now more positive days than negative.

My healing journey has been a bit like a car – you know that car which blew its engine. I was a car standing without the engine. Long Covid was like that missing engine and I’ve had to continue working to build a new one – it needed constant repair. I am so glad that as an acupuncturist I know what to work on and how.

Two years on I am able to say that I am now 80 per cent better. There are still bad days, there is still leftover scar tissue on my lungs, and some days I feel a flare-up is coming, if I exhaust myself.

So I’ve had to learn a new way of living post Covid, treating my self daily, and finding my limits where I don’t exhaust my body and brain. I use my energy wisely nowadays,  I am allowed to say, no I can’t do this.

Coming back to practice

In the beginning I couldn’t walk and talk. But as soon as possible, my very near and dear patients were getting treatments from me, although I wasn’t taking any new clients. It took me one year before I could even think about full-time practice.

But the following year I took my healing to a different level when I moved to the countryside to nourish my soul – happy mind, happy body. I established my new practice from zero client base and now I have a fully booked clinic in rural South Wales.

I know there are so many people still out there who are struggling to overcome the effects of long Covid. I wish they could all know and benefit from the power of acupuncture and daily moxibustion.