Long Covid patients are still feeling the effects

A Kerryman infected with a mild dose of Covid-19 in March 2020 is still suffering the aftereffects, nearly two years later.

He spoke of the threat of long Covid, including lasting exhaustion and its impact on his ability to work, as efforts increase nationwide to address the issue, including the establishment of clinics in Cork .

Rory O’Brien, 59, was previously an active walker. As of June 2020, he was battling exhaustion, double vision, dizziness and headaches.

Today, nearly two years after he was first infected, he still hasn’t been able to resume his appliance repair business.

“I was shaking on my legs, I couldn’t sit still for long periods of time,” Mr O’Brien said.

“If I met someone to chat, I needed something to hold on to, whether it was a fridge door at Aldi or a car to lean on.”

He is now waiting to see a neurologist but hopes to be able to return to work soon. Mr O’Brien hopes the slight improvement he has seen in recent weeks will continue.

It’s about solving problems, there’s brain fog, confusion and it’s quite frustrating.

“That’s no way to run a business,” he said.

In Cork City, Eyvonne Cusack was diagnosed with post-Covid POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) following a Covid infection in October 2020.

Her symptoms, including dizziness, began four to six weeks later, she said: “It’s a total nightmare. POTS is scary.

She only returned to work last week on a part-time basis, and the special education assistant said poor health halted a comeback attempt last April.

“The (heart) palpitations got worse and worse, I had chest pains,” Ms Cusack said.

Before Covid my husband and I were outdoor people. I loved hiking, biking, and that life is over.

Efforts are increasing at the national level to respond to people suffering from the aftermath of the long Covid.

University Hospital Cork (CUH) is to host two clinics for patients, one for people who are less than 12 weeks since infection and a second for people who are more than 12 weeks after infection.

South/South West Hospital Group CEO Gerry O’Dwyer said management was making progress in recruiting staff to support the development of these specialist clinics.

The HSE published a ‘long Covid model of care’ last September which showed an expected national cost of €6.6million.

“There is a CUH representative on the post-acute clinic and long covid clinic working groups who is involved in the planning of these clinics, the preparation of national standards and the implementation of the model of care” , said Mr. O’Dwyer.

Labor TD Sean Sherlock, who received the update as a parliamentary response, said: ‘I am pleased the South/South West is now hosting a clinic. We need to make sure it is funded and allowed to explore and support people with these long Covid symptoms.

Meanwhile, although an HSE spokeswoman said patients could be treated by their GP or hospital consultant, many people with long-term Covid say they rely on private providers instead.

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