A Co Down Pastor who survived a bitter hospital battle with Coronvirus has gone back into hospital with clots on his lungs.
Mark McClurg (41) spent a week in the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald almost a year ago, during which he received support from across Northern Ireland.
When he finally left hospital, in March last year, he paid tribute to the staff and those who prayed for his recovery.
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But six months later he told the News Letter he was still suffering from long Covid.
But now he has revealed on social media that he has had to return to hospital. The pastor at Ards Elim church put a post on social media asking for prayer.
“I would value your prayers at this time,” he said on Friday evening. “I am back in the Ulster hospital as I have clots on my lungs. I have pain across my chest and upper back. But once again I am being cared for by the staff in the Ulster hospital.”
His brief post, made while he was wracked with pain, garnered almost 400 likes and 250 comments from supporters.
Cheryl Haslam replied: “Mark I prayed for you from the day you went into hospital the last time and I will continue to pray for you now. U will be well looked after. God bless.”
Meta Francis also surred hom of support. “Will be praying for you, Claire and the little ones,” she said.
Lynn Adams added: “Praying for you Pastor McClurg. May God rest His healing hands upon you and fill you and your family full of strength to get through this.”
Bernice Lynass added: “So sorry to hear you are back in hospital Pastor Mark. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. May God bless you and heal you.”
However the pastor gathered up enough strength to remember his wife, Claire, on Valentine’s Day today, posting a brief poem.
“My valentine and my bride,” he said to his wife Claire.
“I can’t be with you today,
“But I can’t stop thinking of you,
“I love you Claire,
“Roses are red,
“Violets are blue,
“I will never forget,
“The moment I fell in love with you.
In September Mr McClurg opened up to the News Letter about his battle with long Covid, six months after he had left hospital.
Then aged 40 and with no pre-existing conditions he was a keen golfer who had played football for many years.
In February 2020 he was “running about after the kids” in Disney World, Florida, shortly before he came down with the virus.
But six months after he left hospital after recovering from the virus, he was finding that he was not able to make a full recovery, with his consultant advising him that it may take up to 18 months to do so.
“This is now six months since I left the hospital and I am still experiencing fatigue, breathlessness,” Mr McClurg told the News Letter in September.
“I have a brain fog – concentration and trying to remember things is difficult. But the biggest problem is fatigue.
“I am still waiting for a consultant to get a CT scan to see if I have got scarring of the lungs. The consultant doesn’t think I have this but obviously we need to rule it out.”
His outstanding symptoms had not really lessened at all since he returned home.
“There are two things I have noticed. My immune system is not what it was and my body is not able to heal itself as quickly.”
His daughter was sent home from school recently with a head cold which was then passed on to him.
“I never coughed when I had Covid but I had a cough during this head cold and it just felt like razor blades cutting the inside out of my lungs.”
Normally he would “snap out” of a head cold but this one took almost two weeks to get over. “And that is not normal for a head cold.”
He also had ongoing joint and muscle pain. He had a knee injury from playing football years ago and if it bothers him he usually goes swimming, which fixes it in three to five days.
“But again, after two weeks I am still suffering from pain in my knee. So I am definitely thinking these things will be an issue for other sufferers.”
He said other people from NI were contacting him to discuss having similar symptoms and he has noticed other NI people on social media also describing similar symptoms.
“My consultant said ‘Mark you have to think about this as a long haul’ and that I have to look at this recovery in terms of 12-18 months.”
His sister-in-law, an NHS dietician, was giving him Vitamin C, zinc and probiotics for his immune system.
Another consultant told him: “The difficult thing is that we don’t have a book on Covid, we are writing the book on it now.”
He added: “Normally I would have been preaching twice on a Sunday no problem. But after last Sunday I was that tired I could not even finish my Sunday dinner. I had to go and lie down.
“There is not a day goes past that I don’t feel so tired that I have to go and lie down and sleep. And I would not normally have to do that.”
In September he said he was having to slow down when walking, but he was still keen to point others to the faith which kept him going despite the challenges.
“I am very keen to keep pointing people to Christ in all of this,” he said.
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