Mum from Ipswich helps with Long Covid research

Nicola Marsden shares her story and helps ESNEFT research

Nicola Marsden shares her story and helps ESNEFT research - Credit: Nicola Marsden/ Archant

A woman from Ipswich has shared her story of long-term struggles with Covid to help with a new research study. 

Nicola Marsden, who became ill with Covid-19 in April 2020 at the height of the pandemic, is helping to develop a research study with the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust. 

Nicola Marsden from Ipswich

Nicola Marsden from Ipswich - Credit: Nicola Marsden

The trust aims to examine people living with Long Covid, like Nicola, who was ill for months. 

Nicola, who works as a patient advice and liaison service and complaints officer, had to stop working and rely on her daughter to look after her. 

She said: “I couldn’t even sit up for about six months. I couldn’t walk, I lost my speech, I couldn’t write my name. I was exceptionally unwell. 

“My 14-year-old daughter had to become my carer. She was cooking for me, cleaning and had to do home school herself. I just kept getting worse and worse, but I wasn’t dying.” 

Nicola said that no one knew at the time she had developed what has now been labelled Long Covid – a long-term condition as a result of the virus. 

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The condition left the mother with extreme exhaustion, cognitive issues, a heart condition and many other symptoms affecting her organs. 

Nicola contacted ESNEFT wanting to share her experience because she felt that there was so much more for her and the healthcare system to learn about the condition. 

She added: “I’ve felt very desperate at times, and as I work for the trust, I knew there was a research department – so I emailed them, shared my situation, and asked if I could use my experience to help them and others.” 

Kate Harrall and Rebecca Impson, health professional (AHP) clinical academic research leads, responded and pushed forward the research study. 

Kate Harrall from the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust

Kate Harrall from the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust - Credit: ESNEFT

The team worked together to design a questionnaire that could be sent to other willing patients with Long Covid. 

The study focuses on the experience of the participants with the condition, as they report their wellbeing at regular intervals, so the team can follow the changes over time. 

Kate said: “We wanted to do something to help patients in the same position as Nicola, and it’s been a really positive step in pushing forward with our own research at the trust. 

“Talking to people at different points over several months is also helping us get a deeper understanding of how it’s impacting them.

“We didn’t initially realise the extent to which people were suffering with anxiety and depression as a result of Long Covid.” 

Rebecca Impson from  the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust

Rebecca Impson from the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust - Credit: ESNEFT

Rebecca added: “Long Covid, as well as Covid, has had a huge impact on everyone and this research is important for understanding what that means for people and their lived experiences of the condition.”  

If you are living with Long Covid and would like to find out more about this research trial, please contact R&D@esneft.nhs.uk