“In one year I aged 10 years. It has been a very hard year for everyone but it is not over yet for us. Indeed, we do not even see the end “. Morena Colombi recovered from Covid for 15 months she does but continues to have symptoms that severely debilitate her. He founded the Facebook group “We who have defeated Covid. Post Covid LongCovid Syndrome “which today has more than 17,500 subscribers and has become one of the most important centers of discussion for those who continue to have symptoms that are called Long Covid. We interviewed her for Fanpage.it.
Mrs. Colombi, let’s start from the beginning. When does it all start?
On February 14, 2020, I fell ill with Covid. Symptoms are the usual: cough, aches, cold, some fever. I go to the emergency room and they find me with interstitial pneumonia. I am hospitalized for 3 days and sent home. On March 17th and 18th I get the two consecutive negative swabs.
And here begins another story …
For the state I was healthy, healed. Then I started having symptoms that I didn’t have: aches, headaches, chills. I go to the general practitioner but he tells me “now you are cured, you are negative”, I wait a few days but I even get worse. I find it hard to breathe. I wake up in the morning already tired.
Hence the idea of opening a group on Facebook?
I needed to confront myself, to see if there were other people in the same situation as me. In a few days 300/400 people arrive who showed the same symptoms as me. Today we are 17,500 but nothing has changed on the Long Covid.
What are the symptoms?
I tried to do a survey with all the subscribers who are still a large sample. There is no precise age, they range from 19 to 70 years and also from a geographical point of view there are no differences. The symptoms are chronic fatigue, the most widespread of all, then muscle pain, some have not yet recovered the taste and smell. Then there are pericarditis that appear after 2 or 3 months, skin rashes, gastrointestinal problems. And then the terrible brain fog, which is as if a click were activated that would shut your brain off for a few seconds.
How are you?
I’ve been like this for 15 months now. Some symptoms have subsided and sometimes I have the feeling that new ones are coming.
And who did it turn to?
Unfortunately, there are very few centers that deal with Long Covid. At Gemelli, Professor Landi is working on it, then there are small centers such as Sacco in Milan which has focused on the pneumological part. GPs, on the other hand, are not trained at all.
Have you ever been treated as an imaginary patient?
Sure, almost all of us enrolled in the group. This is why it is useful to compare ourselves, to realize that we are not hypochondriacs. The symptoms are real. Each of us has knowledge of his own body. You get older in a year of 10 years, you can no longer get your life back. After 10 minutes that I do the shopping in a shopping center I go out of breath and I can no longer breathe.
Did it create problems for you at work?
Certainly. There are people who have even lost their jobs. In our condition you need sick days but we have a disease that is not recognized. In 2020 I accumulated 198 sick days, my company has never created problems for me but putting myself in their shoes I understand that it is a problem. And soon there will be the release of layoffs.
Have you had any answers from politics?
We sent proposals and requests to everyone, to Speranza, to Draghi, to Sileri, first to Conte. We are aware that the problem is great because we are many. We ask to be followed up, to be able to go to a trained doctor, to be able to do all the investigations with the right exemptions.
But Minister Speranza spoke of exemptions for the post Covid, right?
Yes, and we also thanked him, but Minister Speranza has taken measures for the seriously hospitalized. Outside there are many. Among other things, the exemption already exists, it is the P01 that was created precisely for pandemic situations. It would be enough to activate that throughout the national territory.
Have you read many dramatic stories?
Many, many, every day. People who lose their jobs, kids who can’t finish their studies. I happen to get in the car and cry alone, like an idiot. We are terrified that this condition will become chronic and that we will never go back to being completely healthy. Even my son understands that I am no longer the mother I was before.
Do you believe that Long Covid will be an issue that the country will have to deal with?
I believe it is the fourth wave.