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A woman who believes she caught Covid-19 10 months ago claims she is the UK’s longest coronavirus sufferer.
Nic Kimberley, 53, says she contracted the disease last Christmas Day after flying to the Caribbean for a winter holiday.
She has since had to make regular trips to hospital, and has been dogged by horrifying symptoms.
Nic loses her eyesight, suffers from arthritic pain and struggles to breathe.
In December, was struck down with the typical symptoms – a fever, lack of taste and smell, a cough, joint swelling and rashes – and spent her entire week in St Lucia in bed.
Nic visited her GP after getting back home to Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, who suggested it could be swine flu.
It was finally confirmed she had Covid-19 after a test in June.
Nic believes she caught it a few days earlier while mingling with Chinese passengers who landed at Gatwick Airport from Wuhan.
Scientists said the earliest known person to contract coronavirus in the UK was a 75-year-old woman from Nottinghamshire who tested positive on February 21 – two months after Nic fell ill.
Nic, a former BBC radio journalist who now works as a self-employed financial advisor, said: "I didn't get my official confirmation it was Covid until June.
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"I have been in and out of hospital ever since. It was found my various organs and glands had not been working properly for quite a while.
"I lose my eyesight for a few hours here and there, then it comes back blurry.
"It is a flaring virus, it sits and hides inside the body before coming out.
"It is the pattern for long Covid people like myself, that they are seeing.
"I have never lost the crippling arthritic and joint pain. I have never lost the chest pain. I find it difficult to breathe.
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"The longest period I've had is seven days when I start to feel almost back to normal.
"But the virus it teases you, the next day you can't stand up, and your ears have been bleeding.
"It is the most horrendous disease, it takes everything you have away from you.
"You are scared to go to sleep as you are worried you won't wake up in the morning. I have no idea if I will ever be fully better."
As well as the physical toll, Nic said the strain of battling the disease has also had a huge impact on her mental health.
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She is now using her experience to warn young people to take the virus more seriously.
Nic added: "I used to be a BBC radio journalist, I used to be eloquent and now my short term memory is gone, I would be beaten at Scrabble by a two-year-old.
"I have gained strength from the support groups that had started to pop up, including the Long Covid Support Group.
"It is the largest group, it has snowballed and we are supporting each other.
"Young people think they are immune. I get so angry when I see the Cov-idiots – they need to know the reality."
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