Alison Thorne’s Success Story
I had my first symptoms of covid back in March 2020 just before the first national lockdown here in the UK. The acute infection was the most ill I have ever felt in my life; I experienced severe shortness of breath, low blood pressure, fever, palpitations, gastro symptoms, dizziness and severe fatigue.
After a couple of weeks I started feeling a lot better and could tell the initial infection was over. I still felt fatigued but assumed it would be over in a few more days, and so i decided to go for a walk in my local park as i was no longer in isolation, and felt I was ready for some exercise. During the walk my legs started feeling weak and heavy, and I became anxious about whether I would make it home or not as I was by myself. Once I was home I felt a bit better after resting for a while, and decided to do some housework. The next day, when I woke up i felt like I’d been hit by a train! My whole body ached and I was extremely fatigued again. This was my first experience of post-exertional malaise.
After that I got into a cycle of feeling better and then overdoing it and having setbacks which started lasting longer and longer. I also became extremely brain fogged and was having short term memory problems, in addition to insomnia. Around 10 weeks in, my shortness of breath came back suddenly and this time I found out my oxygen was dropping to the low 80s on exertion. I was eventually admitted to hospital where tests and scans thankfully showed no damage to my lungs and heart or any signs of further infection, but they were unable to explain why it was happening. This experience was very distressing and exhausting, and my health was now at a point where I needed to move in with my parents for a while as I was unable to cope at home by myself.
A few weeks after leaving hospital I was having short periods of feeling almost well, but inevitably ended up doing too much trying to push myself physically, and subsequently having a couple of weeks of feeling very fatigued and unwell again. I had also developed light sensitivity headaches and gastritis, and had become noticeably anxious and was showing signs of mild post traumatic stress, as I was now out of ‘survival mode’.
Almost 3 months after going to stay with my parents I felt ready to move back home again. By this point I had also started to do a few hours of work from home. I was still fatigued but managed to transition to living alone again successfully and keep up with my work, however on greatly reduced hours to what I was doing before getting ill. By using pacing techniques I could do basic housework tasks independently, but needed help from others to do more heavy duty tasks like hoovering. I was able to go for ten to fifteen minute walks 3 times a week. My energy levels fluctuated, but in a less extreme way.
At around 8 months into my long covid journey I was feeling quite stable and thought I was nearly better. I had even got a new job that I was looking forward to starting. Just before my first day at the new job, I had been trying to increase my physical activity but my legs decided they had had enough and they became extremely weak and painful and difficult to walk on. I was unable to do anything other than rest them for the majority of the day, only getting up when absolutely necessary. After a few days they were feeling a lot better and I started my new job as planned, this time commuting and going into an office base. Within a couple of days I was experiencing the same pain and weakness and difficulty walking and it became clear I was unable to continue. I even had to move back in with my parents again because it was too hard to manage on my own. Luckily I was able to be redeployed at work into a role where I could work from home on reduced hours again, but I was feeling really low and uncertain about my future by this point. I was now unable to go for walks at all because my legs became painful within a couple of minutes and I would experience post-exertional malaise for days after. My brain fog was also making a reappearance and I felt tired and breathless from physical activities such as going up stairs.
I continued pacing which helped with day to day tasks but walking for exercise remained unachievable due to the leg pains, and i felt in many ways I’d gone backwards. I did however gain the confidence to move back home again to show myself I could do that, though still needed help with the heavier household tasks as before. Not long after, I discovered the Gupta Programme. Someone in a long covid Facebook group had recommended it and I decided to sign up to the free trial and give it a go. Immediately the explanation of the theory of why conditions like this occurred resonated with me in terms of my own training as a health professional and my personal experiences of the illness. I really liked the inclusion of techniques such as meditation and self compassion and the understanding of the need for our nervous system to get that deep rest and relaxation; I was aware of these systems and certain techniques in part, but the programme put them all together in a way that immediately made sense to me.
Straightaway the meditations were making a positive difference to my energy levels, and within a couple of days of starting the programme I felt a difference in how I was feeling generally. I was doing more around the house and worrying less about my symptoms, so I decided to buy the full programme. After about 4 days I decided to test my ability to go for a walk now that I had the amygdala retraining technique in my toolbox, and though I felt anxious about my symptoms and how I might feel afterwards, I kept interrupting those thoughts with the ART and giving myself reassurance, and decided to enjoy the walk and fully engage with it instead. Within another few days it was clear to me that my fatigue as I had experienced it before was gone. I was amazed! And so happy. I was now able to go out for walks without worrying how far or how tiring they might be, the pain in my legs was gone and I no longer experienced any post exertional malaise. I was doing all the heavier household tasks I had been unable to do before, and no longer had to pace myself. I felt calm and content. I had freed up so much mental space and was now able to plan my future without worrying about whether I’d be up to it or not. All of this was unthinkable before starting the programme.
Since then i have introduced more exercise, and I have been able to return to my normal job as a health worker, this time going out to work instead of being based at home, all of which is a huge thing for me. I am easing myself back into normal life gradually as I am not 100% yet, but consider myself around 90% and in the process of building up my strength and stamina after a year of illness. I am still using the techniques every day as I do more and more of what I used to do before getting ill, and my last remaining long covid symptoms of light sensitivity and gastritis are slowly improving too.
I absolutely credit the Gupta programme with my huge leap in recovery, and feel certain I’d be feeling the same level of fatigue now if I had not started it. My life is now my own again with all the wonderful possibilities open to me once more, and a new found appreciation for my health and the importance of self care. I have achieved all of this in under two months of using the programme, and I feel confident it won’t be long until I am at 100%. I’m so grateful.