'It's really shaken up my life': The 28-year-old suffering with 'extreme exhaustion' after Covid

A 28-year-old man wants to highlight the issues people with long Covid face after suffering from extreme exhaustion and brain fog.

Matt Clarke, from Cardiff, was even told that he had symptoms of a heart attack after contracting the virus back in January, and has been suffering with long Covid ever since.

In an interview with ITV News, he said, "When long Covid sufferers say 'fatigue', what we mean is that utter level of exhaustion where we just cannot, it's not that we're tired and therefore it's harder to do, it's just on a different scale.

"Your general daily routine starts with getting up, having breakfast, having a wash and getting changed into your clothes for the day ahead and that takes me about two hours.

"The sheer effort of waking up and getting my legs over the side of the bed is so enormous that it takes so much time and that time is spent just gathering the energy."

The 28-year-old has been suffering with long Covid.

The latest statistics show that almost half (46.6%) of confirmed cases of coronavirus are in people under the age of 40, latest figures show.

Dr Keith Reid, executive director of public health in one of Wales' health boards, recently told ITV News younger people are at higher risk of catching long Covid and could affect one in nine people aged 17-24.

"We're encouraging young adults to come forward and get vaccinated," Dr Reid said.

"Sometimes it may be because they feel that if they get Covid it's not going to affect them too badly. We suggest that's maybe not correct.

"There is a significant risk of young adults who get Covid having long Covid - so not just a bad cold or a case of the flu, but symptoms lasting for several weeks; sometimes several months. And that might affect as many as one in nine people around aged 24."

Matt said he now has fears for his future after the virus has affected him physically, mentally and financially.

He said, "I've tried to go back to work twice now and both times I've lasted a couple of weeks before flaking out. At that point you're not living, you're just existing, and I work to live.

"With work, I've run out of sick pay now at the six months mark and I've triggered the formal long absence review.

"What I have to do now is when I go back on a phased return is to see if I'm capable of doing the job. I don't think I am.

"In which case I'll be dismissed on medical grounds and then I'll have to go through claiming benefits. So it's really shaken up my life as it is and I've had to really consider what my life is now and what it will be in the future with this."

Matt's passion is taking part in historical reenactment events with his horse Murphy.

The 28-year-old owns his own horse, but has since been too ill to ride. He said he is "devastated" that he can no longer take part in his passion of historical reenactments.

"As lockdown's got lifted and the world's started getting back to normal, that feeling of missing out was very very strong. You know, I can't join in, I can't do what I love doing.

"To not do that and to see the rest of my friends meeting up after two years of non-events because of Covid restrictions, they're all gathering up, having missed each other in all that time and I'm missing out on that big hello and that's the saddest thing. I miss my friends."

Matt is currently off work after being so ill.

Matt said that after eight months post-Covid, his recovery has been 'slow' and it's been having an impact on his mental health.

He said: "The days don't matter anymore...they just start blurring into one.

"I am so down in the dumps and depressed right now because of the period that I've had Covid so far and because my actual improvement in my symptoms has been so minimal that after eight months it's finally, finally got me mentally."

There are growing calls for more specialist support for those living with the long-term effects of coronavirus in Wales.

More than 60 clinics have been set up across England for people with the condition, which can result in brain fog, anxiety, depression, breathlessness, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms.

The Welsh Government said it is taking a personalised approach to support for those who need it due to the wide range of impacts.

A spokesperson added: “Because of the wide ranging symptoms in Wales we are providing an individual tailored approach to treating Long Covid.

"Our Adferiad programme focuses on expanding the diagnosis, rehabilitation and care for people suffering with long COVID to ensure they can access the services they need, as close to home as possible. People who require more specialist support, which is only available from hospital-based services will be referred via their GP or healthcare professional. As we are learning more about long COVID, the programme will be reviewed on a six monthly basis.”