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MY BATTLE WITH LONG COVID AS AN ENTREPRENEUR

by jcp

Founder of eco-friendly toothpaste startup, Faye Wilson, caught Covid in March 2020 and is still suffering from the long covid

  • At her worst, Faye was rendered unable to walk and lost consciousness at the dinner table.
  • It took doctors eight months to diagnose her, and she now has come to terms with a ME/ chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis as a result.
  • Despite this complete lifestyle change, Faye managed to keep her business, Happier Beauty, successfully running.
  • She now wants to use her platform to bring more awareness to the severity of long Covid.

A buyer turned entrepreneur has told how she is suffering with an 18-month long covid battle, but her business was one of the things that kept her from giving up entirely.

Faye Wilson, 44 from Kent, was previously a senior buyer for many major high street retailers including Next, Tesco and John Lewis. She decided to set up her toothpaste brand, Happier Beauty, in 2019 after being shocked by the 1.5 billion single-use plastic toothpaste tubes sent to landfill every year. She developed a dentist approved, zero waste toothpaste with natural ingredients inside a 100% recyclable aluminum tube.

After a successful launch, Faye then unfortunately caught Covid in March 2020 and things started to take a turn for the worse. She had no underlying health issues other than mild asthma that hadn’t bothered her for years.

She recalled: “I wasn’t concerned when I first caught Covid as I assumed I would be alright and recover quickly. Four weeks later I was still struggling to breathe, and my husband had to call an ambulance as I had collapsed. This was in April 2020, when the NHS was at its most overwhelmed and hospitals were running out of oxygen. I was assessed and because my local hospital was so busy, the ambulance crew said it would be better for me to stay at home. 

“These symptoms carried on for months, I was so weak I could barely lift my arms above my head. I was forced to rest and recuperate which meant having to pause a lot of activity for my business, Happier Beauty, which was devastating as we were doing so well. My mother helped enormously to keep it ticking along but I was itching to get back to it as soon as I was well enough. But whenever I started to feel better and tried even just slightly exerting myself, I would relapse all the way back to square one in my recovery. It was immensely upsetting and frustrating. 

“In the summer of 2020, I had some bizarre and scary symptoms, vertigo, acne, blood clots, numerous cold sores and a suspected pulmonary embolism. I started to wonder if I would ever start to feel better again and worried for my two children. 

“I started to hear about long Covid in the news and from doing my own research and I knew way before my doctors did that, I had it. They didn’t tell me until eight months after I first caught Covid. Soon after, I was diagnosed with ME/chronic fatigue syndrome which was my lowest point. I think I didn’t really understand the true meaning of despair until that moment. I worried that I might be ill for years and not be able to fulfill my dreams. 

“I had two major things that kept me going in this dark time. My children have been remarkably resilient and understanding, they give me lots of hugs when I need one and have really stepped up with helping around the house.  

“Another motivator for me has been Happier Beauty. Making a difference to climate change and seeing the ideas I have for the business come into fruition is so important to me. It gave me a purpose and goal to aim towards once I was well enough. Without it I might have given up altogether. 

“With my kids and the business in mind, I said to myself, I will not accept that this is my fate.” 

Faye has now got to a place in her recovery where she can work for around five hours a day, but still must listen to her body when she relapses.

She said: “I’ve learnt to pace myself day to day and have to be really sensitive to how my body is feeling. If I start to do something and feel tired then I know I have to stop, whereas previously I’d have a coffee and plough on. Long covid is really unpredictable, sometimes I wake up and don’t feel well at all, even after a great day the day before.”

“I am still trying to recover everyday and do things that I know will be good for my health. Long covid has meant I’ve developed lots of new food allergies so I now follow a paleo diet and gently exercise when I can.”

Faye has made some changes to Happier Beauty to keep it running smoothly, including outsourcing distribution. She also wants to tell her story in the hope it brings more attention and support to fellow long Covid sufferers.

She explained: “The thought of the world opening up again and people mingling without vaccines scares me. I would hate to think of anyone else going through what I have unnecessarily. I urge people to be cautious.”

When asked about what she thought about the government’s response to long Covid, she said: “I am disappointed; the clinics that were promised months ago have only just started being available in some areas of the UK. The resources that are available are very limited. In comparison to the US, who have pledged £1.15bn to long Covid research, the UK government has only devoted a few million. I hope by telling my story we can start to make a difference to long Covid being taken more seriously.”

Happier Beauty is available to purchase via its website www.happierbeauty.com.

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