January 13, 2022
As the first waves of Covid-19 began to spread from China, Stephen Holroyd was infected with the Wuhan strain in Guangzhou on January 20th 2020. After a second infection, and debilitating symptoms that didn’t disappear, he was diagnosed with Long Covid. Two years on, he discusses his recovery – and the part that Nourish Drinks played in his return to health.
‘I work in international education, and since 2005 I’ve lived in Bangkok, China and Hong Kong. But since contracting Covid-19, I’ve returned to the UK and live in Shropshire with my wife, Alison.
‘I caught Covid in the early days of the pandemic, when I was working in Guangzhou, China. I recovered but was reinfected on the flight home to the UK. At that time, I just couldn’t get better. Throughout April, May and June 2020 I felt desperately ill and dropped weight suddenly, going from 75 to 69 kilos in just one week. The change in my appearance was so shocking, the facial recognition on my banking app didn’t recognise me!
‘I experienced waves of malaise that just knocked me off my feet. I remember trying to empty the dishwasher and dropping a cup onto the floor; the next thing I knew, I was sitting in floods of tears on my bed. It just wasn’t like me.
‘Early on, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal by Fiona Lowenstein about people who had contracted Covid and were simply not recovering. That led me to a social media group of people, like me, who were experiencing strange and debilitating symptoms. We know now that in Long Covid, vestiges of the virus may remain in the body and can be attacked by an overactive immune system. Symptoms differ from person to person but profound fatigue, insomnia and loss of appetite are some of the common ones. There’s also a huge psychological impact; at that time, we didn’t know if we would ever recover, as so little was understood.
‘I had two wonderful GPs and was also fortunate enough to be involved in a research project called Coverscan run in a partnership between Oxford University and a medical research company called Perspectum, which meant having multi-organ MRI scans every six months to look for any long-term effects of the illness.
'As the months went on, I realised that I was in a state my grandparents’ generation would have called “convalescence” and intuitively felt that my pathway to recovery would be slow and painstaking; that I would need to care for myself both physically and emotionally'
‘My time living in Buddhist countries had shown me different approaches that could complement the Western clinical advice I was receiving. Blood tests had revealed markers of inflammation, and I could feel the infection still in my right lung. The body scans also indicated that the pumping ability of my heart was affected (something that seems to impact a high proportion of people with Long Covid). So I began to use the meditation techniques I had learned in Thailand to help with the anxiety and psychological trauma of the illness. I would also practise Tai Chi three times a day based on the Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, with its proven and research-validated benefits for patients with cardiac issues.
‘I also Googled “drinks for convalescence” and that’s how I discovered Nourish Drinks. I had no appetite and was trying to find a way to stabilise my weight and make it through mealtimes. I was amazed by how palatable the drinks are – I thought I’d be struggling to swallow them but they are delicious. Mango is my favourite flavour, due to all the time I have spent in Asia, but I also love the raspberry and chocolate versions.
'I felt confident that the nutrients, vitamins and minerals in Nourish Drinks would support my body during this time of convalescence, and I like that the ingredients are natural and organic'
‘It took about a month for me to return to my previous weight, and my appetite gradually improved. I’d always eaten a healthy diet, but now I ate a super-healthy one, with lots of fibre and vegetables to protect my heart. I began to use Nourish Drinks as a complement to mealtimes – supplements to boost my nourishment throughout the day and help my recovery.
‘It took me 16 months to recover fully from Long Covid, but today I feel 100 per cent in good health. My experiences with Long Covid have led me to start a project in Shrewsbury, with both conventional medicine practitioners and complementary therapists working to find a space between Western and Eastern approaches to wellness. We want to help people in prehab, before surgery or chemotherapy, say, and in rehab, in that period of recuperation and recovery from illness or treatment.
‘I know from my own experience that recovery can be a long road. What helped me was sleep, gentle exercise, good nutrition and the fresh air of the Shropshire countryside. Nourish Drinks were crucial in that acute, post-viral phase. And I’m sure they can help others who need to convalesce and care for themselves, too.’