Reaching long Covid for three years: “I had to mourn my life before”

While some patients have (almost) no symptoms when they get Covid, others never fully recover. (©JB/Little news/Illustration)

Chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, neurocognitive disorders… Symptoms of long covid are as diverse as they are numerous. In France two million people suffers from it, according to a study by Public Health France, published in July 2022. In general, the suffering is significant and persistent.

However, a study of British Medical Journalpublished on January 11, 2023, explains that “most symptoms” associated with a long-lasting but mild form of Covid tend to disappear within a year of infection.

More severe long-term symptoms

According to the researchers, a large proportion of people with mild infection “do not suffer from severe or chronic long-term symptoms”, as we explained in a previous article.

But according to French doctors, we must be careful with the results of this study: “It is a retrospective study, which means that we are not following a cohort of patients. […] In terms of reliability of results, there may be biases”, stated tonews.fr Jérôme Larché, doctor of internal medicine in Montpellier and specialist in long Covid,

“The results of such an article remain limited to the rarer chronic diseases that can occur with Covid”, explained Antoine Flahaut, epidemiologist and director of the Geneva Institute of Global Health.

“It is therefore possible that this form of suffering and disability does not disappear spontaneously after a year. »

“Sport was my whole life”

Maud*, 45, flourishes. She got Covid three years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic. And yet there are still heavy scars. “Although I feel better, I have not regained the health I had before. I was super athletic, I practiced running very regularly, but that’s just me 70% of my abilities before“, explains this press officer in Rennes from actu.fr.

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The one who often left on weekends with her husband to participate in marathons or trails abroad, has put this part of her life on hold. “Sport was my whole life. However, I can never do the marathon again,” laments Maud.

I had to mourn my old life.

MaudTo reach the long Covid

Since catching Covid, in March 2020, Rennaise has suffered from dysphonia after contracting pericarditis.

“I have paralysis of the larynx on the left, so I have a disability in relation to my voice and my breathing. I also became asthmatic, I have joint, muscle, inflammatory pain…”, she lists.

Symptoms that change

Same story with Lise, 39 years old. She is also one of the first to get Covid, in March 2020. “And I’m far from being out of it”, she laments, contacted by news.fr.

His symptoms are also persistent, and especially his neurological disorders: “I have paresthesias in my arms and legs [une atteinte des fibres nerveuse, NDLR]. I have brain fog that I can’t get rid of. Chronic fatigue that does not change, as well as breathing problems, which I have made progress on, although I still cannot resume sports,” says this European project manager.

According to her, patients with long Covid see their symptoms develop: “It’s a lot swinging over time they sometimes appear less, but it is persistent. If you have the impression that the symptoms are diminishing, it is also because you are getting used to them. »

“We always have consequences”

She was also a very fit woman who played sports and traveled extensively in Europe for work.

Now I can’t move like that anymore, so I adapt. I can no longer resume an active life as before. We always have after effects, there are periods when it is better but it ends up coming back, we are never sure of anything. We’re walking on eggshells even three years later.

LisaTo reach the long Covid

At first, when she gets the virus, the condition is not serious. “I was told that I was young and that it had to pass. Then I had a respiratory attack, neurological symptoms that appeared in the two months that followed. Unfortunately, they never left,” recalls this Breton woman.

Finally, after a year of doctor visits, Lise gives a name to this disease that affects her: the long Covid.

get used to the pain

For her part, Maud feels lucky: of course she has lost some of her sporting and cognitive abilities, “but I know other patients who are in wheelchairs and who have not received quick and simple treatment,” she adds. She could benefit from regular monitoring, she has respiratory physiotherapy sessions and numerous very regular check-ups.

I don’t know if I feel better or if I’ve gotten used to the pain. But at least I live with it. And I struggled to find my form before, and to be able to resort. Although I now run less time, I do sports again, it is positive.

MaudTo reach the long Covid

Inevitably, as she has had Covid for a long time, Maud’s life has changed a lot and many habits have become complicated. “Even if I go out again, I no longer see my friends, everything is harder. If I’m spending an evening with friends, it’s complicated because I can’t force my voice”.

So when everyone is talking loudly, no matter where she is in a loud bar, it’s “exhausting”.

More fragile patients

Even for his work, his dysphonia is disabling. As a press officer, she spends much of her time on the phone. “But my voice gets stuck, my larynx hurts, my throat hurts, it’s a brake when you have to talk to people all day long”.

And so more generally is Maud much more fragile. “I had a cold recently, and instead of ending after a week, it lasted a month and a half. I’m recovering more slowly. We have the impression of having become fragile. I also have cycle problems. [menstruels] which I didn’t have before. So when I hear that we can regain our abilities after a year, it makes me a little mad! “, she storms.

“We are constantly on alert because Covid affects our immune system and weakens us. I know patients who have developed autoimmune diseases,” says Lise.

For her, many theories have arisen about the long Covid since the start of the pandemic, “but no scientific consensus at the moment, so as long as there is nothing concrete, we Guinea pig“.

*Name has been changed

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