Sheffield man struggling with severe effects of long Covid hasn't been home in 17 months
Mick Walcott was told he had Covid-19 on March 26, 2020. He hasn’t been home in 17 months.
Now relying on a permanent oxygen supply and use of a wheelchair, the 57-year-old is in a nursing home and asking – out of all the cases of coronavirus in the last two years, why has his done so much damage?
“I used to be fit and healthy,” said the former street lighting worker. “I could lift big flags of concrete on my own.
“If I got out of this wheelchair and into bed now, I’d be out of breath.
“I think there are a lot of people out there who think we’re all now over Covid, that you just survive it, that long Covid is no big deal. They should come see me. I’ve done nothing but fight for going on two years now.”
The impact of long Covid on Mick is hard to comprehend.
Starting with his sudden admission to hospital in March 2020, he has since suffered scarred lungs and heart tissue, aching fatigue and loss of memory. He has developed a growth on a disc in his neck that is robbing him of his mobility, and in 2020 he was placed in an induced coma for 60 days.
After multiple stays Northern General and Hallamshire Hospital, Mick has now been a recipient of full-time at Mickley Hall by Valorum Care, in Totley, since January this year.
His wife of 21 years, Audrey, said: “He got in an ambulance in May last year and hasn’t come home since.
“They said it would be a long, hard road to recovery but I don’t think we expected all of what it would do.
“I’ve got through somehow. I’ve got a really great support network of friends and family.
“Before Christmas, there were lots of videos of people leaving hospital and I always thought, ‘that’ll be Mick soon’. But that hasn’t happened yet.”
It’s been a hard battle for both of them. Between the hours she can visit Mick, Audrey has to put in part time shifts as a support worker and relies each month on the ebb and flow of Universal Credit.
“The couple would be entitled to PIP if Mick was allowed to go home – but he isn’t, and they don’t know when he ever will. It’s a £89 payment that would go far and that they’re missing out on due to a technicality.
Audrey said: “It’s very frustrating some days – you’re on the phone for hours explaining the same things to people, that Mick can’t work and he’s in care. And on the phone they say ‘ah well we’re very sorry to hear’ and ‘well we can delay payments three months’ but those three months go, and then what?
“Someone the other day brought one of our payments down to £8 a month, and still I don’t know where that will come from.”
Mick and Audrey met one Saturday in the former Stonehouse pub in Church Street. They’ve now been married over 20 years.
“I loved his wicked sense of humour,” said Audrey.
Mick is not the only patient living today with the impact of severe long Covid, and the support they can get is lacking.
His only warning to others is: “It’s not over yet.”