‘It’s been hard’: Quebecer with long COVID being studied at research institute calls for more support

“I might recover, but I might not,” says Quebecer Carrie Anna McGinn, who's been suffering from symptoms of long COVID. She’s among the 570 people being studied at Montreal's post-COVID research clinic over the last year. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.citynewsyoutube

By Alyssia Rubertucci

Quebec City resident Carrie Anna McGinn hasn’t been herself in over a year. She’s been suffering from symptoms of long COVID since Jan. 2021 and hasn’t been able to get back to activities she loves like yoga.

“I’m thinking that it might be more of a long term disability, and I’m now focusing on learning to live with long COVID,” says McGinn.

She’s among the 570 people with long COVID being studied at Montreal’s post-COVID research clinic, since it opened its doors in Feb. 2021.

McGinn caught COVID in Dec. 2020 and hasn’t been able to shake symptoms like overwhelming fatigue and brain fog since.

“Really incapacitating symptoms that don’t allow me to do the job. I love to be the active mom that I am, to do the community and volunteer work that I love to do,” she says. “It’s been hard.”

She recalls the moments she first knew something was wrong: when she was unable to muster the energy to play with her four-year-old daughter at the park.

“This isn’t me,” she says. “I was hiking mountains just a few weeks ago.”

She was then referred to Montreal’s post-COVID research clinic, where they have been working to understand long COVID.

“Long COVID isn’t the same disease for everyone,” says the director of the IRCM post-COVID research clinic, Dr. Emilia Liana Falcone. “We’ve learned a lot in the past year. We certainly have a better grasp of the range of symptoms and the types of complications that can arise.”

“There’s a very long waiting list and there’s a lot of needs because there’s so many cases,” she adds.

It’s not certain how common long covid is, but Dr. Falcone estimates it could hit between 10 and 30 per cent of people who’ve been infected.

“People like me who were in the prime of their lives, were active workers, active parents and now are at home managing completely incapacitating symptoms and with a strong possibility they may never get better,” says McGinn.

Dr. Falcone says treatment options should be on the way for those dealing with long COVID, but until then, McGinn is calling on the government for more support for her and the tens of thousands like her.

“We need more adapted, high-quality clinical care and not just rehabilitation,” says McGinn, “but also access to medications, access to specialists.”

Something that would be critical for her, as she still suffers a long list of symptoms with no end in sight.

“I might recover, but I might not,” she says. “I think what’s important to acknowledge is that people like me need disability support.”

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