"Desperate" long Covid sufferer considered taking her own life

A previously fit woman was considering ending her own life after being unable to walk for a long time from Covid and suffering from symptoms of dementia.

Adelina Chalmers, 38, began making plans to end her life at the controversial Dignitas Center for Euthanasia in Switzerland after falling into a “vegetative state” due to the long-term effects of the coronavirus.

But the business consultant found that her extreme symptoms were actually made worse by an underlying iron and B12 deficiency in her blood – which she claims blood tests failed to detect.

Now, in just four weeks, Adelina says she has almost returned to normal from the inability to feed or wash herself – thanks to a simple weekly injection that cost the NHS just 60p per syringe.

Her story comes from a new React survey that found over two million people in the UK may have had prolonged Covid symptoms for more than 12 weeks.

She is now calling on others who believe they have long-term Covid to have their iron and B12 levels tested – and to check the results for any deficiencies themselves.

Adelina from Cambridge said, “I thought I was going to die. I felt like there was no hope of recovery.

“The tiredness was so extreme that I thought, ‘This is the end’.

“I was desperate. I was researching whether to go to Dignitas in Switzerland to have myself killed or to end my life in another way because I just didn’t want to live that way.

“I am a person who likes to do things and is active, and I just lay paralyzed for weeks. I was practically in a coma, but I was still awake.

“I was able to live on my savings for six months – but since I’m self-employed, I don’t get sick pay, so I feared that I would run out of savings.

“I didn’t want to be homeless in the state I was in, so I made plans to end my life as soon as my savings ran out.”

Adelina fell ill with Covid for the first time in March 2020 and was hospitalized in April.

She said: “From March to about June 2020 I had severe Covid symptoms. When I went to the hospital in April, I wondered if I would see my 38th birthday in July.

“But by June I seemed to have recovered completely – apart from the fact that Covid seemed to have destroyed my lung capacity.

“I was encouraged by my doctor to do a lot of exercise after my recovery in order to rebuild it – so I did an insane amount of exercise between June and December 2020.

“I did about 20 to 30 hours a week – cycling, karate, at least four hours of walking a day, and running up and down the stairs.”

In late December, she felt nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath when climbing stairs.

She added, “In early January, I began to feel this feeling like I had a lot of tiny knives in my brain.

“I couldn’t feel my toes anymore, had internal tremors, and my hands and feet felt cold all the time.

“Then one day in February I collapsed in my living room. Everything went black.

“From then on I was virtually paralyzed. When I tried to walk, I fell.

“I got palpitations and was afraid of having a heart attack.

“When I blinked, my eyes were so heavy they felt like titanium.

“I also got symptoms of dementia – I couldn’t remember how to use the microwave and I couldn’t feed myself.”

But after doing blood tests, Adelina said her general practitioner insisted that her iron, B12, and B9 levels were all in the “normal” range.

Finally she took matters into her own hands – and asked about its results.

After requesting copies of her blood test results, she found that her iron, B12, and B9 levels were all on the dangerously low end of the “normal” range.

Adelina said she was "effectively paralyzed"

It is believed that Adelina was already suffering from pernicious anemia – a deficiency in vitamin B12, which is needed to make red blood cells – before she first contracted Covid in March 2020.

But she was prescribed metformin to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome in 2018 – and this is suspected of having blocked the B12 uptake in her body, which must help her fight Covid.

Although she said her B12 and B9 levels were normal, her B9 levels were 5.39 – with 5.38 being the low end of “normal”.

She said, “That 0.01 point made the doctor think I was ‘normal’.

“That’s why so many long-term Covid sufferers get so tired.”

After finding out how dangerous her iron and vitamin levels really were, she sought help from Dr. Andrew Klein of The Iron Clinic at Nuffield Health Hospital, Cambridge.

Last month, Adelina received an intravenous iron infusion at the iron clinic and has since been given weekly injections of B12 to increase her B12 levels.

She said, “It’s amazing how much better I already feel. I’m not a religious person, but I joked with Dr. Small that if I were I would probably think that he is Jesus.

“Eight weeks ago I couldn’t even lift a spoon – and recently I lifted a concrete bollard in my garden.

“I can slowly start gardening and exercising again. It’s amazing.”

Adelina can now play sports again

But Adelina is also frustrated that her diagnosis of pernicious anemia was not taken sooner.

She added, “I want people in similar situations to know what their blood test results really mean and to take care of their own health.

“If your levels are at the low end of normal, like mine, then you have to insist on treatment or supplements for it.

“If I didn’t get the right treatment, I would be disabled. I never want to go through this again. It was torture.”

Adelina is now waiting for more blood tests to see how long she will need B12 injections and if she needs more intravenous iron infusions.

Dr. Klein said: “I am very happy for Adelina – her recovery has been fantastic and I am happy that she is responding so well to the B12 treatment.”

But he added, “The B12 injections are just a simple solution for a subset of people who, like Adelina, have low B12 and low iron levels, made worse by Covid.

“It’s not going to work like a miracle treatment for everyone. It’s just about finding other people, like Adelina, for whom the treatment works.

“I would encourage people to have their B12 and iron levels checked and then of course see their doctor to decide if this might be the right treatment for them.”

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