Reaching long Covid for three years: “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 by Public Health France, published in July 2022. Generally, the disorders are significant and persistent.

However, a study of British Medical Journalpublished on January 11, 2023, explains that “most symptoms”, linked to a prolonged but mild form of Covid, tend to disappear during the year following infection.

More serious 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 about 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”, indicated Jérôme Larché, doctor of internal medicine in Montpellier and specialist in long Covid,

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

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

“Sport was my whole life”

Maud*, 45, abounds. She contracted Covid three years ago, at the start of the pandemic. And yet, heavy scars remain. “Even though 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 only 70% of my abilities before“, explains this press relations officer in Rennes to from

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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 may never be able to do marathons again, ”laments Maud.

I had to mourn my old life.

MaudReaching the long Covid

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

“I have paralysis of the larynx on the left, so I have a disability in terms of my voice, and my breath. 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 people to have contracted the Covid, in March 2020. “And I am far from being out of it”, she laments, contacted by

His symptoms are also persistent, and in particular his neurological disorders: “I have paresthesias in the 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 respiratory problems, on which I have nevertheless made progress, even if I still cannot resume sport, ”says this European project manager.

According to her, patients with long Covid see their symptoms evolve: “It’s very fluctuating over time, at times, they show up less, but it’s persistent. If one has the impression that the symptoms are diminishing, it is also because one is getting used to them. »

“We always have consequences”

She too was 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’s better, but it ends up coming back, we’re never sure of anything. We are walking on eggshells even three years later.

LisaReaching the long Covid

Initially, when she catches the virus, the condition is not severe. “I was told that I was young and that it was going 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 medical wandering, Lise puts a name to this illness 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 a wheelchair, who have not had quick and simple care. “, she adds. She was able to benefit 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 anyway I live with it. And I fought to find my form before, and to be able to resort. Even if now, I run less time, I do sport again, it’s positive.

MaudReaching the long Covid

Inevitably, since she has long Covid, 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 spend an evening with friends, it’s complicated because I can’t force my voice”.

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

More fragile patients

For his work too, his dysphonia is disabling. As a press relations officer, she spends a lot 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 then more generally, Maud is much more fragile. “I had a cold recently, and instead of ending after a week, it lasted a month and a half. I recover more slowly. We have the impression of having become fragile. I also have cycle problems. [menstruels] that I didn’t have before. So when I hear that we can recover our abilities after a year, it makes me a little angry! “, she storms.

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

For her, many theories on the long Covid have emerged since the start of the pandemic, “but no scientific consensus at the moment, so as long as there is nothing concrete, we are guinea pigs“.

*Name has been changed

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