After three years of long Covid: “I had to mourn my life before”

While some patients have (almost) no symptoms when they contract Covid, others never fully recover. (©JB/Lille News/Illustration)

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

However, a study by British Medical Journal, Published on January 1, 2023, explains that “most symptoms” associated with a persistent but mild form of Covid disappear over the course of the year after infection.

More serious long-term symptoms

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

But according to French doctors, we have to be careful with the results of this study: “It is a retrospective study, which means that we are not tracking a cohort of patients. […] There may be bias in terms of the reliability of the results,” pointed Jérôme Larché, doctor of internal medicine in Montpellier and specialist in long Covid,

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

“It is therefore possible that this type of disorder and disability does not resolve spontaneously after a year. »

“Sport was my whole life”

Maud*, 45, has an abundance. She contracted Covid three years ago, at the start of the pandemic. And yet severe scars remain. “Although I’m better, I haven’t regained the health I had before at all. I was super athletic, I practiced running very regularly, but I’m just 70% of my skills before“, explains this spokesman in Rennes from

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The woman who often left with her husband on weekends to compete in marathons or trails abroad has put that part of her life on hold. “Sport has been my whole life. But I might never be able to do marathons again,” Maud laments.

I had to mourn my old life.

MaudReaching the long covid

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

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

symptoms that change

The same goes for Lise, 39 years old. She is also one of the first people to contract Covid in March 2020. “And I’m far from out,” she complains, contacted by

His symptoms are also persistent, 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 doesn’t change, as well as breathing problems that I’ve still made progress on, even if I’m still unable to resume sport,” says this European project leader.

In her opinion, patients with long Covid see how their symptoms develop: “It is very swaying Sometimes they appear less over time, but it’s persistent. If you have the impression that the symptoms are easing, that is also because you are getting used to it. »

“We always have consequences”

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

Now I can’t move like that so I’m adjusting. I can no longer continue my active life as before. We always have after-effects, there are periods when it’s better, but in the end it comes back, we’re never sure. Three years later we are still walking on eggshells.

LisaReaching the long covid

When she catches the virus, the condition is not serious at first. “I was told I was young and stuff it would pass. Then I had a breathing attack, neurological symptoms that showed up over the next two months. Unfortunately, they never went away, ”recalls this Breton.

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

get used to the pain

For her part, Maud feels fortunate: of course she has lost some of her athletic and cognitive abilities, “but I know other patients who are in wheelchairs who haven’t been taken care of quickly and easily,” she adds. She has benefited from regular monitoring, she has respiratory physiotherapy sessions and numerous very regular check-ups.

I don’t know if I’m better or if I’ve gotten used to the pain. But still I live with it. And I’ve been struggling to find my form beforehand and to be able to fall back. Even if I walk less now and do sports again, that’s positive.

MaudReaching the long covid

Since suffering from Covid for a long time, Maud’s life has inevitably changed a lot and many habits have become complicated. “Even if I go out again, I don’t see my friends anymore, everything is harder. When I go out with friends for a night out, it’s complicated because I can’t force my voice.”

So if everyone is talking loudly in a loud bar, it’s “exhausting”.

more frail patients

His dysphonia is also paralyzing for his work. As spokeswoman, she spends a lot of 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.”

And then more generally, Maud is much more fragile. “I recently had a cold and instead of stopping after a week, it lasted a month and a half. I recover more slowly. We feel that we have become fragile. I also have menstrual problems. [menstruels] that I didn’t have before. So when I hear that we can regain our abilities after a year, it makes me a little angry! ‘ she storms.

“We’re on alert all the time because the Covid affects our immune system and weakens us. I know patients with autoimmune diseases,” says Lise.

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

*Name has been changed

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