Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

12.20 6 Apr 2021


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People who are suffering from persistent symptoms of the coronavirus after contracting the disease, or long-COVID, are calling for the condition to be designated as a disability.

Those who tested positive for COVID-19 are reporting symptoms long after their initial diagnosis, such as fatigue, breathlessness, racing hearts or loss of taste or smell.

Linda Dalton, a long-COVID sufferer, is calling for the disease to be recognised as a disability.

She explained to The Pat Kenny Show that for the past six months, she has been exhausted, struggling for breath and unable to return to work.

Linda contracted COVID-19 on October 10th last year and felt like she had a "really bad flu".

She was fit, a non-smoker and after two weeks she was hoping for life to return to normal.

Three weeks later, she was trying to do walks to improve her fitness again as she couldn't accept that the disease was in her system and she wasn't getting better.

"I felt like I was going to have a heart attack, my heart was racing," she said.

Linda went straight to A&E and had several tests and was sent home with steroids and anxiety medication.

'Everything is limited to me now': Calls for long-COVID to be recognised as a disability

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"It's been established now that we don't suffer from anxiety, we have heart issues because our hearts are enlarged because of the virus," she explained.

"I now have scarring on my lungs, so I will be on an inhaler or out of breath for the rest of my life."

Linda added that there are several normal activities which she can no longer do with ease.

"I can't say a full sentence without having to gasp for breath which is absolutely crazy," she said.

"I can't sing in the car, I can't go upstairs or any incline at all, I have to stop, I'm like a 90-year-old woman.

"It's just really hard to do it, my body shuts down.

"The best description I have seen, was that if a normal human being charges themselves, goes to sleep at night and like a phone, plugs themselves in, their phone is 100% the next morning."

People with long-COVID like her, in contrast, "are 30%".

covid-19

'I'm like a person that has a disability'

"At one o'clock in the afternoon, if I've changed the duvet on my bed or just done a hoover, my mobile phone battery in my body is 0%, I have to go straight back to bed for a few hours to recharge myself and I might get 10% back of that battery," Linda continued.

"Something inside my body, or all our long-COVID bodies, is stopping up from regaining our 100% fitness, our energy will not come back to us for some unknown reason, and this is the problem we're facing."

Linda said she can't go back to work, is not able to drive long distances, or do normal chores around the house.

"Everything is limited to me now, so I'm basically like a person that has a disability," she added.

She waited three months to see a long-care consultant privately and was put on a critical care list for the COVID-19 vaccine. She is due to be inoculated on April 14th.

She says she will have a 50% chance of getting back to normal after the jab, but on the other hand, there is a 50% chance the long-COVID symptoms will continue.

long-covid Minister of State at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth with responsibility for Disability Anne Rabbitte. Photo: Julien Behal Photography / RollingNews.ie

Speaking on the same programme, Anne Rabbitte, Minister of State for Disabilities in the Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, said the HSE has established a working group to address the concerns surrounding long-COVID.

"There is no denying that we do recognise that there is a chronic and disabling part of long-COVID which will affect approximately 1-2% of people who have COVID," she said.

"The supports will be treated no differently for anybody who wishes to apply for anything to do with disability.

"But the science is evolving on this one at the moment, as we heard Linda talk about, the reset button with the vaccination, what will that mean.

"The work is still evolving on it and I think we'll have more science and data as the vaccination programme is worked out, hopefully by the end of the autumn."

Main image: File photo. Credit: PA

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