Dee’s story

“Please Believe Me” by Dr Dee Burrows

Dee prepared the information below for someone to present on her behalf at RCN Congress in June 2022. 

I am a non-voting member who has been a Nurse in practice, education and research for 45 years. I am a published author, speaker, educator and innovator – at least I was. Now, I live with Long Covid, I am a patient, a waiting list number and invisible. I have been off sick since I got Covid last July, have lost 95% of my social life and only manage around 50% of my home responsibilities. I live on my own.

People don’t believe me because they only see or talk to me on my better days when I can cope with 1 or 2 people at a time, going for a walk or having lunch. They don’t see the hours of coughing and shortness of breath; feel the pain, headaches, tinnitus and fatigue, let alone the post-exertional crashes. They are aware of and getting used to my brain fog, poor memory and concentration, but they don’t see the dangers these bring me at home on bad days. We need to share this impact to be believed.

It’s not all doom and gloom. On better days I can walk, cook, watch a TV programme, perhaps do a bit of shopping or sewing, appreciate the small things and dream for the future.

Will the future include work? I don’t know. My employer is my health care provider. The waiting list for respiratory physio, for example, is 15 months. Will my employer wait this long? Will I have any income, compensation or benefits? I don’t know.

The military want their personnel back at work. They offer comprehensive assessments and speedy and timely treatment. We offer patchy and in some areas no services and our nurses with Long Covid sit on waiting lists along with everyone else.

The most recent Long Covid stats, indicate there are 1.8 million sufferers of whom 750,000 have had Long Covid for a year or more. 45% are not working, a further 7% have resigned and 5% been dismissed. Even the Bank of England is worried about the impact of Long Covid on the labour force and economy.

Nursing is carrying 40,000 vacancies, as well as an unknown numbers off sick with Long Covid. We need help to get treatment so we can get back to work, or if already there perhaps increase our contribution. We also need help, if we cannot return, to have Long Covid recognised as an occupational disease.

Originally posted on 3/8/22

Author: Alison Twycross PhD RN

Chair - Supporting Healthcare Heroes UK; Editor-in-Chief - Evidence Based Nursing; Former Deputy Dean and Professor of Children’s Nursing

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