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Inverness coronavirus survivor’s call for support

By Louise Glen

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An Inverness care home worker who survived a brush with death after contracting Covid-19 has called for more help for survivors.

With virus cases on the increase after the relaxation of lockdown measures, Sarah MacDougall today called for a support group to be established.

The 42-year-old is still suffering from the after effects of the virus and says many more will be in the same boat.

It comes as NHS Highland reported more than 55 new cases this month, including a cluster of 37 in Grantown.

Mrs MacDougall contracted coronavirus in early April and spent more than two weeks in an induced coma and on a ventilator in Raigmore Hospital.

She is normally a cook for NHS Highland, but has been off sick since her illness.

She said the effects could be long-lasting and survivors should be supported through the trauma by each other as well as professionals.

It has been more than 20 weeks since she was taken ill and the feeling has not yet returned to her foot after a lack of oxygen damaged nerve endings leaving her unable to walk.

She now wants to share experiences with others who have had the virus.

Mrs MacDougall said: “I have been speaking to people from all over the country who have had covid on Facebook. It is a very shocking illness and many of us are feeling a mixture of emotions.

“We have up and down days, and often people are left feeling very confused. I lost a whole month of my life – three weeks of which I cannot remember anything from. My lungs were damaged, and my leg will take a long time to recover.

“It is really difficult to find out who has had the virus in Inverness, or the Highlands – and I am sure, that like me – they have good days and bad days.”

She continued: “Those people who have had Covid-19 need to talk about their feelings, and to help understand what we are going through.

“Covid-19 side effects do not end when you leave the hospital, it is actually only then that the journey back to your health begins.

“For me talking with other people makes it easier. If there was a group in Inverness I think that a lot of people would benefit from it.”

Mrs MacDougall, who is married to Harry, continued: “It might have been several weeks ago I was admitted to Raigmore but I am still recovering.

“I am improving every week. Only the last five weeks have I accepted that I’ve a long recovery ahead and my nerve damage will take months, if not years to get better. In fact it may not ever be fully better.

“I was in denial at first. But speaking to other people who are in the same position really helps.”

Anyone who would like to join a Highland covid survivors group can contact her via Facebook on www.facebook.com/sarah.macdougall.77

An NHS Highland spokesman said they were not aware of any support groups in the region.

n NHS Highland together with Highland Health Ventures and Wyld Networks are deploying technology to help reduce the spread of viruses including Covid-19 in care homes.

The software decides whether visitors and staff can or cannot enter the facility based on peoples’ health status and level of risk.

The first care home to use it, which is expected to be from October, will be Castlehill Care Home in Inverness.

Read more stories about Mrs MacDougall's journey:

NHS angels saved my life

Inverness care worker reunited with husband

Inverness Covid-19 victim faces ongoing health battle

Click here for more local news.

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