Mum of five children all suffering from long COVID describes horrendous 11-month ordeal: ‘Every day is survival’

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·5 min read

Watch: Two children describe what it’s like to suffer from Long COVID

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coronavirus latest news

A mother of five has described how all of her children have suffered horrific symptoms that appear to be long COVID, saying: “I just feel like everyday is survival at the moment.”

Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) public hearing on children with long COVID on Tuesday, Charlie Mountford-Hill said her entire family, including herself and her husband, first became really unwell in March.

But Mountford-Hill said the following 11 months have been “a lot lot worse”.

She described how her children – between the ages of four and 15 – have experienced all manner of symptoms for months, including heart pains, breathing issues, rashes, bruises, bleeding noses and mouth ulcers as well as peeling hands and feet.

Charlie Mountford-Hill and her daughter Mimi.
Charlie Mountford-Hill and her daughter Mimi. (APPG)

The APPG hearing, chaired by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, heard three mothers talk about their different experiences with their children's long COVID.

They all described how medics have been unable to provide answers, often dismissing the children’s illnesses as coronavirus-related altogether.

Mountford-Hill told the panel: “I look at all my children and none of them and none of them are the same children that they were before we got sick.

“Before March, I had children who were outside playing, doing sports every day and now I have children who all look shattered and need more sleep.”

Read: Boris Johnson to hold COVID press conference today to announce latest updates

She said she first got ill at the end of February and on 4 March, her four-year-old daughter Mimi woke up screaming in pain with a sore neck.

Mimi then started becoming lethargic, suffering from belly aches and headaches for about a week, before her symptoms changed into chest and heart pains.

Mountford-Hill's 10-year-old son Indiana started getting gastric issues a week later.

By 22 March, the whole family was unwell with Mountford-Hill suffering from gastric pain while her husband, a pharmacist, had more typical COVID symptoms.

Charlie Mountford-Hill speaks to the public APPG hearing.
Charlie Mountford-Hill speaks to the public APPG hearing. (APPG)

Her three other children – boys aged eight, 12 and 15 – did not appear to be sick but have since all been experiencing unexplained symptoms like rashes, persistent headaches and red eyes, with one coming out in shingles on his legs.

Mountford-Hill said: “I couldn’t breathe or stand. I was shaking and the children had symptoms which weren’t necessarily deemed COVID at the time.

“We barely got out of bed. I remember lying in bed one day thinking I really need a glass of water but being unable to reach out and get it. We were that poorly. It was horrendous".

“We were told it would only last 14 days and it would get better,” she said. “It’s coming up to 11 months now and it’s a lot lot worse.”

Since the initial illness, Mimi’s condition has deteriorated and she was admitted to hospital in April and May due to her symptoms, Mountford-Hill said. “She had gastric pains, rashes, headaches. The list was endless.”

Watch: Long COVID sufferers highlight struggles

Her mother said: “I watched bruising spread from her temples all across her face, her heart rate was really high. She had three different skin rashes, she had strawberry tongue, she had mouth ulcers. If she tried to walk she was clutching her chest and saying her heart felt funny.”

But when Mimi was admitted to hospital, medics ran blood tests and found there was nothing wrong with her so she was sent home “with no support and no help”, Mountford-Hill said.

Indiana also suffered from breathing issues and started having allergic reactions to food, she said. He was rushed to hospital when it got to the point that all the whites of his eyes had turned red, he was covered in bruises and his eyes were sunken.

“He had these nose bleeds that we couldn’t get under control,” she said, describing them as involving “copious amounts of blood”.

Mountford-Hill described how the doctors again said nothing was wrong with him and at this point, she "broke down and was completely hysterical”.

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“They opened a multi-agency referral form against me saying I was an unfit mother because I literally broke down and sobbed and begged them to listen to me," she added.

Her eight-year-old son Emmet, who did not seem ill in March, has experienced flushed cheeks and gastric symptoms as well as what appears to be sleep apnea.

She said her 12-year-old son’s feet became so sore he couldn’t wear shoes and her 15-year-old had so much testicular pain he was admitted to hospital, but again the doctors dismissed the possibility that his condition could be long COVID.

On top of this, Mountford-Hill herself has suffered from heart issues, going to A&E five times with chest pains only to be told there was nothing wrong with her. A cardiologist later diagnosed her with myocarditis.

The mother of five said the whole family have seen “very very slow improvements” but it remains to be “very up and down”.

On how the ordeal has impacted the family, their life and their mental health, she said: “I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it. I just feel like everyday is survival at the moment. It’s just really tough.”

Watch: NHS chief executive describes ‘very serious’ position in hospitals