The virus has a capricious, unpredictable behavior in each new contagion. Like a kind of Russian roulette. Although the average time from the onset of symptoms to the recovery of a person affected by covid is 2 weeks when the disease has been mild and 3 to 6 weeks when it has been severe or critical, in many cases, the fight against it Ruthless SARS-CoV lasts excessively in time, with various symptoms, for long months. It is the case of Estefanía, Antonia and Ana María, three malagueñas that were infected in the first wave of March 2020 and that today, Almost a year later, they continue to suffer from a symptom that prevents them from recovering their life normally. Chronic fatigue, dyspnea, muscle and headaches, low-grade fever, blurred vision, poor concentration, cough, dry eyes, diarrhea, vomiting, or breathing difficulties are just some of its symptoms. They claim that they suffer from what is becoming known as ‘persistent covid’ or ‘long covid’, an ailment recently recognized by the Ministry of Health with a different section than the sequelae of the virus and for which it has long struggled to disseminate the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians (SEMG) and the group of affected LONG Covid ACTS. It is estimated that one in ten infected could suffer from this syndrome.
“We have made the coronavirus negative, but the disease has not just gone away and we have not quite recovered. It is as if they threw 40 or 50 years on you, suddenly, on top of it, ”Estefanía Manzano, a teleoperator who is still on sick leave, tells SUR, who demands that these cases be recognized as a disease so that those who suffer from it can be treated properly. “It’s a roller coaster: sometimes you improve and other times you are a rag again”, now indicates Ana María Oña, a freelancer from Malaga who adds more than twenty symptoms that make her working day very difficult in her business. In the same vein, Antonia B. Durán, a caretaker at the Hospital Clínico, who does not detach herself from her inhaler to perform her duties, expresses herself. “We need to be recognized, investigated and activated health action protocols”, stand out the three affected linked to the Andalusian delegation of the platform (‘Persistent Covid Andalusia’).
Estefanía Manzano. (36 years)
«The cough accompanies me morning, afternoon and night; it’s my nightmare a year later »
Estefanía speaks with just a small voice that pauses frequently to take a breath and recover from the incessant cough that haunts her morning, noon and night. “He’s going to kill me, it’s my nightmare,” he warns. This 36-year-old telemarketer from Malaga, married with a 13-year-old son, has been living a real odyssey since she was infected – at her work, she thinks, coinciding with several positives – in March of last year. The virus caused bilateral pneumonia that forced her to lie down and isolate herself from her family in a room of a 70-meter house with a single bathroom. They followed him up by phone until, in April, he went to the emergency room. “I thought I was dying: I am short of air, I could not breathe”, remember. And that was not the first time: she went to the Regional hospital as many times until they decided to admit her on June 1, seeing that her symptoms did not remit. “Curiously, my test was already negative for COVID at the time, but even so I continued to have symptoms almost three months later,” he says. To this day, after eleven months of struggle, Estefanía is still on sick leave, at home, living with severe bronchial asthma. He suffers from dizziness, permanent aphonia, fever, extreme fatigue, blurred vision and has had a lung capacity of 60%. “I have a symptom diary,” he confesses.
She hardly goes out on the street and when she does she needs to be accompanied by her husband or sister. At home he even suffocates washing dishes. Despite everything, she is optimistic and confident that her situation will improve: «I’m not dead and for that alone I can feel lucky. Although I do not deny that it is very hard: I am 36 years old and I look like a grandmother of 70 with pills on the bedside table and an oxygen machine to avoid drowning. We need our situation to be made visible », sentence.
Ana María Oña Torres (53 years old)
“I have older neighbors who had a bad time with the disease and now they are much better than me”
On March 10 of last year, Ana María was already indisposed. He is clear that he contracted the virus in his business, a stationery store and gift shop with a lottery receiving office located in the town of Guaro. “I had clients who passed it and at that time there were no distances or masks,” he recalls. Coinciding with the confinement at the national level, she locked herself at home, alone, to face the beating of the virus. His head was exploding and extreme fatigue did not leave him the strength to move from the sofa. «I spent 8 months sleeping sitting down because when I lay down I drowned. It was as if I had an elephant sitting on my chest ». In May, with the de-escalation, before reopening his business he decided to take a test on his own that confirmed what was feared: he had antibodies, he had passed the disease. However the annoyances still persisted. In fact, in September he had another relapse that forced him to withdraw for a few days. “In all this time I have forced myself to work because I am autonomous and I have to keep my business afloat by myself, I have no other way but to endure.”
Ana María constantly searched the Internet looking for an answer to what was happening to her until she found the Andalusian platform for those affected. «Finding them was like finding a lighthouse to guide my way: I was no longer a weirdo that nobody understood, there was a group that suffered the same as me, “she says relieved.
Today he still has “excruciating headaches, gaps in speech, or exaggerated fatigue after doing any daily task.” She has been visiting specialists for months and is awaiting the diagnosis of post-covid pericarditis (inflammation and irritation of the pericardium, the thin, sac-like membrane that surrounds the heart). “We need to be taken seriously, to investigate what happens to us”, he argues. Meanwhile, face this difficult life experience with courage and hope. “I am a born warrior, I inherited it from my parents and I will continue fighting.”
Antonia B. Durán (45 years old)
“Until five months later I did not feel able to go back to work”
Antonia began to feel that something was wrong on March 6 of last year, in the midst of the health crisis. “I never usually get sick, nor have a fever, the truth is, never”, he assures. However, a week later they called 112. The system was already collapsed, there was no ambulance for her and she went to the emergency room on her own with her eldest son (she has a 15-year-old and a 9-year-old girl). They sent her home. “I was extremely tired, I couldn’t even take a short shower by myself. I had difficulty breathing and tiredness did not even allow me to speak. Shortly after, my hair began to fall out », recalls this caretaker from the Clinical Hospital who was unemployed at the time. After confirming the virus, he still had to wait until August, almost five months later, to “feel like a person” and gather the strength to accept his current position at the hospital. “They had called me before but until then I could not face a working day, I did not see myself capable.”
To this day, he does not part with his inhaler to combat respiratory distress. You also have muscle and chest pain, blurred vision, or eye pain. He says that he has even lost the ability to concentrate for reading, one of his great passions. The covid has also caused him – and that is the worst part, he assures – leukopenia (a decrease in the number of leukocytes in the blood) and a thrombocytopathy, a condition in the platelets.
In spite of everything, like Estefanía and Ana María, she faces her condition with courage and confidence: “I have no choice, in the hospital I continue to smile at patients under my mask, even though it sometimes costs.”