• Long Covid and the Freedom of Flight

    Long Covid and the Freedom of Flight

    By Felicity Smith

    With the start of each new year comes the promise of pastures new. Resolutions made, though all too often broken despite our best intentions, and the drive for a better year than last. But the start of 2020 brought something altogether different, Covid-19.

    Flight Simulation and Long Covid     Flight Simulation and Long Covid

    At first, perhaps like many of us, I did not take too much notice of it. After all, it had not reached the UK and I was young (ish!), fit and healthy. I could not remember the last time I had been brought down by any kind of illness and the worst health issue I had ever had was hay fever! No, I had nothing to worry about. Brushing aside the growing concerns voiced by numerous news channels, I made my yearly new resolution and quickly got to work on them. This year, I told myself, my resolution was not to cut down on chocolate (because for me that is totally impossible), instead I was going to tweak the book I had been writing.

    Yes, I had the whole year planned out, what could possibly go wrong?

    As the weeks wore on, the quiet whisper of Covid-19 began to grow louder. The virus had now reached UK soil and alarm bells were beginning to sound everywhere. To say I wasn't unnerved would be a lie, but still I thought to myself, "I have nothing to be too worried about because I'm fit and healthy." Despite my shaky assurances, things were beginning to change drastically for everyone.

    Fast forward to March and bang, lockdown!

    However, as a keyworker, I was still required when needed, and so alarm bells started going off in my head! What if I get it? I started to feel really scared.

    Flight Simulation and Long Covid     Flight Simulation and Long Covid

    Barely a few weeks passed and that 'what if?' scenario came true. I got Covid-19. In all my years I had never felt so utterly incapacitated. It was as if I had been run over by a steam train...twice! Nausea, cough, temperature, shortness of breath and unbelievable fatigue were but a few of the symptoms I now had. Just sitting up in bed took vast amounts of energy, energy I simply did not have. Still, being of a positive disposition, I told myself, don't worry, you'll be over this in a week, two at most.

    Well, we're now approaching December 2021 and I have been suffering from Long Covid for twenty months and my life has been turned upside down. Added to my long list of original symptoms are joint pain, tinnitus, brain fog, memory problems, headaches...and so the list still goes on. Once a long-distance runner and martial artist, I can't even shuffle at a snail's pace without chest pain, breathlessness and fatigue, and I have gone from working at a million miles an hour to not even being able to put washing in the machine without getting tired and out of breath. Being someone who has always been so active, my inability to do even the smallest things has been very difficult for me.

    Needless to say, my husband has been the one and only person who has kept me above water, both physically and emotionally. His tireless help and dedication have been more valuable to me than all the money in the world, and without his love, care and dedication, I don't know where I would be today. Far from just being my husband and the best friend I've ever had; he is now also my carer. From walking Honey, our beautiful little dog, to cleaning the house, cooking all the meals, he does absolutely everything because he knows I can't.

    Running used to be my alone time, the time of day when we get into that zone where it's just you, and you only. However, as I can no longer run, where can I find solace? What can I do to escape the stress and anxiety I now feel?

    Flight Simulation and Long Covid     Flight Simulation and Long Covid

    The answer for me lies in the clouds, and strangely enough flight simulation. I say strangely, because it had been for many years, just my husband's hobby, and while I did use it from time to time, flight simulation was never really a part of my life.

    However, times change, and with it, so have I. So where do I go to find that zone, that special "me" moment? Well, like many people I know, I'm an avid Lord of the Rings fan, especially the movies, and as they were filmed in New Zealand, this has become my usual haunt of late.

    There are many airfields located on the South Island of New Zealand, with Milford Sound being one most simmers will be familiar with. However, the airfield I enjoy and use the most is probably Lake Tekapo (NZTL) as I have found it provides a greater range of possibilities in which to explore New Zealand's South Island.

    Heading north along Late Tekapo and you can't fail to be impressed by the tremendous mountain ranges looming over to your east. Following the lake to its most northerly tip and you'll eventually meet Mount Cook National Park. From here, you're spoilt for choice, as whichever direction you take, one thing is certain, you're in for a real treat!

    Flight Simulation and Long Covid     Flight Simulation and Long Covid

    Sadly though, I am not able to fly for as long as I used to, due to Long Covid, but on a good day, flying takes me on a wonderful journey. Usually there is no flight plan of the day (our secret...shh) and no specified start and end to the journey. I just climb above the clouds where I can be alone with my thoughts. As I alluded to earlier, flight simulation was very much my husband's hobby, something I would have to watch with a cup of tea (a small bribe but worth it), but now it has become a lifeline that keeps me grounded thousands of feet in the air. It can't ease my physical symptoms, and more often than not, I find them flaring up even after the briefest of flights, but for just a moment I am free. I guess one of the many things I have come to realise is that flight simming is not just a game or a simulation, it can also be a form of therapy when your life hits turbulence.

    So, keep healthy, and keep on simming!

    Tags: covid

    15 Comments
    1. Cavulife's Avatar
      Cavulife -
      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve got long Covid. My sister in law has it as well and I know it’s tough. Glad that you’re at least getting a little break from that reality with Flight Sim.

      Hang in there.
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Very touching article Felicity, thank you for sharing.

      Blue skies!

      W33
    1. sfgarland's Avatar
      sfgarland -
      Exceptional story! Enjoyed your writing. Perhaps you finsh your book and get it published here in the colonies (U.S. LOL) such I might read more of your work. Keep at it and hang in there!
    1. yvrjml's Avatar
      yvrjml -
      Sorry you went through all this, my reaction to lockdown was I got in debt for a crazy powerful PC, AFTER 14 years on iMacs just to pick up a hobby that I'd pretty much ended 20 yrs earlier, I suffer depression and knew that getting back into flight simming would provide the right kind of escape and I'm still loving it.
      PS - MICROSOFT and ASOBO I TRUST one day, you will treat all simmers to a WORLD UPDATE that focuses on Canada ...We are bigger than the USA (not sure if it's known but many American maps make the USA look bigger than Canada (similar to a certain president's inauguration lol) CANADA is gorgeous and deserves its own World Update! Maybe for world update 10! Where the 0 from 10 can become the O as in OH CANADA!
      I hope you keep simming, and I really hope they work at treatments for long haulers...wishing you the best in your recovery, and keep exploring that beautiful sky, and our gorgeous planet!
    1. SWM1968's Avatar
      SWM1968 -
      I can only imagine what you must be going through Felicity, and thank you for sharing your experience and raising awareness of this condition. I know how time in the clouds can take you to places so that just for a short while at least, it allows you to focus on something else, and there is no more beautiful place than New Zealand. Love the photos. Your hubby is putting us men all to shame and well done to him, as it can't be easy for either of you.

      I really hope escaping to the simming world can continue to help you get through this, and I pray that you get rest bite and things start to improve soon. Would love to see some more of the places you visit in future posts, and please take care!!
    1. FrankPilot's Avatar
      FrankPilot -
      Nice read. Yes, MSFS has also been absolutely great for me during Covid, in Melbourne, Australia, apparently the most lock-downed city in the world. I am lucky not to have got Covid, and I wish you a quick and complete recovery. BTW, I love that part of NZ as well - honey-mooned there 40 years ago and been back 3 times since. Cheers.
    1. racm123's Avatar
      racm123 -
      Hello Felicity there for the grace,I enjoyed your article very much and you are right it is a form of therapy, escapism,achievment I fly vfr and love the scenery.Look after yourself blue skies ahead.
    1. da42's Avatar
      da42 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nels_Anderson View Post
      Very touching story, we hope for the best and some good news in the near future
    1. garrybank's Avatar
      garrybank -
      A really good article, Felicity, and I'm glad that Flightsimming brings you at least some release from Long Covid. I use X-Plane for IFR and "Heavy Metal" but find MSFS just stunning for VFR and agree that New Zealand is just the greatest environment for VFR flying. You should give my country of Scotland a try also. Beautiful and varied scenery within a relatively small area. The west coast and islands are my favourite part of the world.
    1. toftedal's Avatar
      toftedal -
      " ... but for just a moment I am free. I guess one of the many things I have come to realize is that flight simming is not just a game or a simulation, it can also be a form of therapy ... "

      Words from the heart and beautifully stated. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.
    1. maclio's Avatar
      maclio -
      Good evening, thank you for allowing us a trip to New Zealand. Your writing is a delight, a new text or even a book will bring us an enchantment.
      I omitted to mention flight, so by sharing this Covid, it is possible that our wings will cross in this world of freedom.
      Thank you for this bubble of happiness and courage that you have brought us.
    1. miatamariner's Avatar
      miatamariner -
      Felicity, your expression of spending your time in the clouds brought to my mind the most beautiful song and lyrics that to me says it all about you. "Born Free, free as the wind blows". Keep soaring.
    1. HornetAircraft's Avatar
      HornetAircraft -
      Amazing article! inspiring and superbly written words. Amazing to see what Flight Simulator can really do. It's not just another game.
    1. danbiosca's Avatar
      danbiosca -
      Thanks for such an inspiring article. Even if I haven't been hit by Covid (so far anyway), it has emotionally devastated me for the latest two years. To me, the most wonderful thing to do in this life is traveling, and flight simming has surely helped relieve the pain and frustration of the constant lockdowns of different scopes.
    1. Huddison's Avatar
      Huddison -
      My thoughts and best wishes are with you Felicity - keep on enduring, you'll get through this
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