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Watch: ‘Long Covid destroyed my life’

A triathlete from Dublin has given a stark account of living with long Covid, describing how the disease has impacted every aspect of her life.

Gráinne Kelly was training up to three times a day and cycling hundreds of kilometres per week when she contracted Covid-19 in September 2020.

“I guess I was 30 or 31 when I developed long Covid,” she told RTÉ News. “I was training three times a day and the goal was to compete nationally, maybe even internationally.

“But I can’t train now. If I exercise, my heart goes through the roof. I’m bedridden for two to three weeks if I try to do a gentle walk.”

Ms Kelly was speaking as patients with long Covid appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee.

Members of Long Covid Advocacy Ireland (LCAI) told committee members that specialist clinics are not helping sufferers and they have been “neglected and dismissed”.

It is a feeling Ms Kelly shares.

“My whole life has been destroyed. I’m stuck in this life, like we were in lockdown. I haven’t left that life. I’ve lost friendships and relationships because I’m stuck in this world that I feel like I no longer exist in.

“We don’t matter enough. I can’t receive treatment. I’m not believed when I try to tell people the symptoms that I suffer on a day-to-day basis.

“And I’m watching everyone else getting on with their life.

“People ask me when am I going to have children. But how am I supposed to have a child if I can’t even look after myself?

“If I’m not even seeing where my career is and I can’t financially support myself, I just think – what is this life? It can’t be real.

“It can only make you feel like you don’t matter enough to help. You don’t matter enough in this world anymore.”

LCAI estimates that around 350,000 people in Ireland are affected by long Covid.

“I can’t keep trying to have to prove to people that I’m still not better. I want to be better. But the clinics and treatments just aren’t there to enable some people to get better,” Ms Kelly said.

“It’s like: ‘You’re not motivated’ or ‘you’re lazy’. But I was the most self-motivated person ever, and I didn’t need somebody to hold my hand, to look after my career, to push me to train. I want my life back, but I don’t think it’s possible if this Government keep ignoring it,” she added.

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