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News > Chat’s the way to do it: Advice Line calls are a lifeline for Long Covid sufferer Kenny

Chat’s the way to do it: Advice Line calls are a lifeline for Long Covid sufferer Kenny

Kenny Stables, 54, lives in Penicuik, Midlothian. A call operator with Police Scotland, he had Covid-19 in March 2022 and is now living with the symptoms of Long Covid, including fatigue, breathlessness and tension headaches. Kenny has been supported in managing his condition by Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Long Covid Support Service. 

Kenny Stables felt isolated and alone as he faced up to the knowledge that he had Long Covid. Chronic fatigue kept him from his job and even from walking his dog. 

Months on, Kenny is learning to live with the condition, and he credits the help he received from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Long Covid Support Service for helping him deal with the debilitating symptoms. 

The lady who called me was just lovely, and it made me feel better just to have that regular chat.

Kenny said: “I felt lost. There was nobody there for me. Then Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland stepped up to the mark. 

“I can’t thank the organisation enough. The service is a great lifeline, and I learned a lot about managing my symptoms. The lady who called me was just lovely, and it made me feel better just to have that regular chat.” 

Kenny, 54, lives in Penicuik, Midlothian, and works as a call operator with Police Scotland. He first contracted Covid-19 in March 2022 and dealt with symptoms such as breathlessness, muscle spasms, gastric problems, sinus issues and severe headaches. He spent five months on long-term sick leave and ended up twice being hospitalised because of breathlessness. 

He said: “It was a terrible few months. Physically I was in a bad place, and my mood was also really low. But by October, I was much better. I felt back to normal and back to work. 

“Then a year to the day after I first got Covid, I got it again. I’d gone to my mum’s to help decorate. My sister came by, too, but she was unwell. We all got Covid. They recovered, but I relapsed completely. The infection wasn’t as severe, but I just haven’t got better.” 

This time around Kenny struggled most with muscle cramps and spasms that stop him walking, while also dealing with recurring sinus and gastric issues. He did manage to return to work but only for a month before fatigue stopped him in his tracks again. 

A Lifeline

Initially there was little support, but then a locum GP mentioned Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Long Covid Support Service, which was running as a pilot with NHS Lothian. Eventually Kenny was referred to the service called Tailored Talks, which offers regular calls with one of the charity’s Advice Line practitioners along with help and support on self-management of Long Covid symptoms. 

He said: “To start with, it was just a lifeline. With Long Covid, you’re not functioning properly, and there’s always such a lot of information to read and to take in. So, I found the calls very sympathetic and helpful. The whole process was very valuable. 

“I was able to share information and ideas with my GP. CHSS gave me a lot of information about pacing, and I use that still to make sure I’m not overdoing things. 

“I still have joint pain in my legs and muscle twitching, but I am able to walk a bit further than previously. Fatigue is still an issue, and after a discussion with the Advice Line, my GP agreed I probably now have chronic fatigue.” 

I do think there is a lot of stigma around Long Covid.

Kenny is now back at work on a phased return, doing two five-hour shifts a week. He can’t do what he once did, including night shifts, because of the fatigue, and he’s conscious of the pressure of short staffing on his colleagues. Life for him is much more limited to home, the days of long hill walks with his pointer Freya long gone. 

He said: “I do think there is a lot of stigma around Long Covid. If I had a broken leg, you’d see it. But a lot of the issues with Long Covid aren’t visible. I find it embarrassing to say I can’t do things because of the fatigue or muscle aches. 

“I know how much pressure my colleagues are under at work, and it’s so difficult for me not to be able to do what I once did. I have my low moments. The biggest worry is finances for me. I’ve still got a job, even though I can’t earn as much as before. I’m thinking about possibly retiring next summer. I know I’m luckier than many people in my position, and I’d like to go out on my own terms, but I know that might be out of my hands. 

“Like a lot of people with Long Covid, I feel abandoned by the Scottish Government. In England, they have clinics that are inundated with people. For me, it’s reassuring that Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland have picked up the baton to provide this service and I’m so grateful that you’ve been here for me, but I don’t think it shouldn’t be left to a charity alone to do this.” 

If you’re living with the effects of a chest, heart or stroke condition or Long Covid and looking for advice and information, please contact Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0899. You can also text NURSE to 66777 or email   

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