LONG Covid sufferers have spoken out how oxygen therapy has given them a new lease of life after months of suffering throughout the pandemic.

Just before lockdown of March 2020, Imogen Phelan and Sarah Craddy both caught what they thought was a nasty cold.

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Their GPs told them they would be back to their normal selves by 14 days, but by the following Thursday, Sarah was signed off sick.

Symptoms became severe and Sarah had to choose between brushing her teeth or her hair, before going back to bed.

She said: "I took a long weekend off before lockdown because I wasn't feeling right. I slept all weekend because I felt rough. By Thursday, I signed myself off sick at work and didn't end up going back. I couldn't eat, speak or clean my teeth."

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As Imogen's symptoms became worse, she found herself being forced to choose between making it to bathroom or the kitchen for a cup of tea.

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She said: "Once I got out of bed, it would be a trade off between making it to the bathroom or the kitchen. Crawling around the house took all energy and it went on for around six months. My GP brushed it off as my bloods were coming back as 'normal'".

A year later, Imogen and Sarah booked a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy session at HybO2, based in St Clement Street.

HybO2 is an oxygen chamber that allows patients to breathe 95 per cent oxygen through a mask and tube. The oxygen then fills the body and its cells, helping the body to recover and heal at a quicker speed.

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Sarah said: "When I explain to people what the chamber is, they look at me with shock and horror that I get locked into a chamber for an hour, but when I explain what it's done, what it is and what the environment here is like, they start to get a different opinion. 

"After session three, I was so exhausted that I crawled up the stairs. It really floored me. Session four, I came out still feeling exhausted. Session five, my energy levels started picking up and then it was an upward trajectory after that.

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"After session 12 I went out on my mountain bike for the evening. I cycled up a mountain and I could breathe for the first time in two years. Fully, deeply and without any pain in my lungs. It was incredible, I actually cried."

Sarah and Imogen have both been coming to the chamber since March 2021 and have had 10 sessions back to back with the support of Maurice McDonagh and operations manager, Steve Bridgewater. They then had an extra three sessions for a couple of weeks, and now have one session per month for a top up. 

Maurice and Steve say they chamber has helped those with arthritis, psoriasis, parkinson's, insomnia, cystic fibrosis and much more. 

Maurice said: "Here at HybO2 we welcome clients from all walks of life with an extreme range of conditions from brain injuries through to menopause. We pride ourselves on our friendly, relaxed and honest approach, with expert staff that will talk you through all your queries or concerns.

"Our chambers are some of the best in the world and are not only for use by our valued clients at HybO2 House, but can also be purchased for use in the home or a clinic."

For more information, visit hybo2.com/.

Review by reporter, Harvey Lindsay

As someone who is interested in alternative medicine, I was shocked when I found out about the oxygen chamber on my doorstep.

I did my own research before becoming more intrigued and enquiring for more information. If flooding our body and cells with 95 per cent oxygen can cure, help and assist with medical treatment, I want to tell the world about it. 

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During my visit, I felt extremely welcome. The practice is homely, warm and full of colour. And to top it off, managers Maurice and Steve are welcoming, knowledgeable, friendly and relaxing.

I say relaxed because getting in the chamber for the first time was terrifying. I was first offered some herbal tea before having my blood pressure checked and a run through of what to expect in the chamber. 

I got in feet first, laid down and got comfortable. Maurice sealed the chamber and gradually put me down to two atmospheres. I remember to stay calm and relaxed while keeping in mind I'm sealed in for 60 minutes.

After 15 minutes, Maurice came over to check if I was OK, which he repeated every 15 minutes until the hour was up. This kept me feeling secure. 

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Overall, the chamber was fascinating and if I was trying to cure or treat something, I'd appreciate every breath of oxygen just that little bit more.