A Glasgow teacher fears she will not return to the classroom anytime soon after her battle with coronavirus left her using a wheelchair.

Zoe Williamson was diagnosed with long covid after she contracted the infection during a family holiday to France last August and has been unable to work ever since.

She is one of many people in an education setting battling Post-COVID syndrome, also known as Long Covid, which is developed during or following an infection consistent with Covid-19 and lasts more than 12 weeks.

READ MORE: Glasgow primary class sent home after 'small number' of Covid cases identified

Fellow teacher Nicola Carmichael has been left with a stutter while Robert Johnston – home school support worker – relies on an inhaler to help his breathing. 

Zoe said: “I think Long Covid is going to be the big story of 2021. There is no way I can be in a classroom right now. It’s a horrible situation I am 44 years old, a single parent with two young kids and a keen cyclist.

“My world has become very small. I have to crawl out of my bed to get my kids something to eat. Coping with that psychologically is very difficult. 

“I was fit and healthy and I feel like my life is ruined and has been totally turned upside down. The hardest thing is that no-one can tell me if I will get better. I want to re-enter society, but it is impossible right now.”

Ms Williamson says was taken to A&E three times with chest pains but she was never admitted to a hospital ward. 

She assumed she would get better and for a couple of weeks that seemed to be the case but in September last year her health started to go downhill again.

She went on: “I am now at the stage where I can’t leave the house, I have got a wheelchair supplied by the NHS, I am registered as disabled, and I have been diagnosed with post covid chronic fatigue syndrome.

“At the moment, my world has become very small, I cannot work, I can’t leave the house unless someone pushes me in a wheelchair, and I find it very hard to care for myself and for my children.

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“There’s a misconception that long covid can only affect you if you have been in an ICU. My immune system responded so violently to the original covid diagnoses that it never settled down.

“It continues to fight a virus which is no longer there which is what is causing the headaches and the chronic fatigue.”

Nicola Carmichael, from Rutherglen, who is also battling Long Covid, developed a stutter following her diagnoses. 

She caught Covid-19 after her daughter and son-in-law tested positive for the virus in December. Nicola didn’t have any of the common symptoms and was adamant she didn’t have the virus after testing negative twice.  

Her doctor instructed her to come to the surgery before sending her to hospital for a third test which came back positive.

Nicola explained: “My whole body was aching, I had a very high temperature and ended up in hospital for eight days. I needed some oxygen but not to the same extent as others in my ward.

“I was arguing with the doctor about my diagnoses.  They put me on steroids and antibiotics. When I came out of hospital on December 22, I still wasn’t well - I slept through all of Christmas, New Year and January.”

Nicola, who has never had a speech impediment before developed a stutter in January this year. She woke up one morning in March and her speech seemed to be fine again, but it came back. 

She continued: “My daughter thought I had had a stroke. My doctor has not come across anyone who has developed a stutter and is investigating. I ended up back in hospital for more tests. I went to the neurologist who said Covid has had such an impact on my body.

“For me coronavirus isn’t what they have been reporting. It’s been difficult and I have been off work since December.”

Robert Johnston, a home school support worker from Kirkintilloch, contracted coronavirus in May and was off work for two weeks.

When schools returned in August, he started to feel tight chested and found it difficult to walk up a set of stairs. Mr Johnston was off work for six months and had to attend Stobhill Hospital for treatment.

He explained: “My wife works for the NHS and she was diagnosed with Covid during the May holiday weekend. They sent us all for a test and I tested positive. We didn’t have any symptoms at all of covid with the exception of the loss of taste but that wasn’t a known symptom at that time.

Glasgow Times: Stobhill Hospital Stobhill Hospital

“It wasn’t until August when the kids were back that I just couldn’t get my breath. The headteacher asked me if I was feeling okay and she told me to go home, and I was off for six months.”

During that time, Mr Johnston’s battle with long covid got worse. He struggled to walk and became breathless quite easily.  

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He added: “I was referred to a respiratory doctor at Stobhill who was fantastic and put me on steroids. 

“I’m back at my work but I could still be off. I have never had an inhaler, but I now have one to help me breath. I want to help other people and give people advice. I think long covid is going to cause a lot of people a lot of problems.”