“The long Covid folded me like a schoolbag”



He was however robust, Laurent Luccerini: 1.94 m, all in muscle, a healthy life, without pathology. At 46, the former member of the special forces saw his life change one day in May 2021. It was the third wave of Covid-19. Delta Variant. Brought by firefighters to the emergency room, he was admitted to intensive care. Since then, he has been fighting against a long Covid.

He who has traveled a good part of the theaters of external operations, from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, no longer recognizes himself. “I survived a parachute fall, I recovered from injuries, I recovered from malaria, but this thing, it bent me like a schoolbag. » Above all, he does not understand why this Covid still brings him down, almost a year later. “My whole life has been turned upside down. I am constantly stressed, I who always kept my cool. Sometimes I feel like a cannonball, a slacker. »

“We can’t abandon them! »

Laurent is far from being an isolated case. “These patients often have the impression of not being listened to, explains Gilles Vallat, head of rehabilitation at the Pic Saint-Loup clinic, near Montpellier in the Hérault. At the end of their period of care, they leave the protocol, like any patient. But then many of them report not feeling well. “It will pass”, they then hear from their attending physician. But it doesn’t happen. They may pass a battery of tests, nothing is visible. We can’t let them go! »

Faced with the multiplication of these cases, the ARS Occitanie began in September steps to label the health establishments capable of making the diagnosis of a long Covid and of organizing, in a global way, follow-up and rehabilitation care. (read the marks).

In his misfortune, Laurent considers himself lucky. After several weeks of hospitalization and 23 kg lost, he was already followed for rehabilitation care at the Pic Saint-Loup clinic, which has just been certified. In this establishment, a protocol for post-Covid patients had been put in place from the start of the health crisis.

“Here, we quickly understood that we had to offer much more comprehensive care than simple rehabilitation. There are cardiologists, pulmonologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nutritionists, and even a social worker if necessary, we also offer adapted physical activity. lists the director of care, Olfa Sifi.

Coordinated care for as long as needed

In the fitness room where he suffered during his rehabilitation, the former soldier wants to show photos and videos compiled in his phone ” to not forget “ all the progress made. May 2021. His face is unrecognizable, covered with pipes. June 2021. He is sitting in a wheelchair, with “legs like pencils”. July 2021. He tries to climb stairs at the cost of heavy breathlessness. “I succeeded that day, I succeeded! »

After having spent about five months there, in full hospitalization then day, Laurent left at the beginning of December, as agreed, the protocol. His medical examinations no longer reveal anything abnormal, except for a tachycardia treated with beta-blocker.

But symptoms follow him. Physical and psychological. His immediate memory fails him. He opens a closet and no longer knows what he is looking for. He starts a sentence and doesn’t finish it. Words, too, escape. “I always have bugs”, says the father of two, who started driving again a month ago. The day before, he accompanied his son to school and then went back to bed. “I’m often in bed or on the sofa, like a larva. Everything I don’t like he testifies. I don’t manage. » Since the end of December, Laurent has resumed physiotherapy sessions and consultations for his anxiety.

“These patients are in a brain fog and must follow special care, underlines Julien Astaing, Covid long referent doctor who now follows him. Until he gets better, the coordination of his care will remain assured. »

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Occitania sets up care coordination units

Coordination units are gradually being set up in the 13 departments to direct patients to diagnostic centres. They can be requested by health professionals, patients or their relatives via a single number.

In December, six medical referral centers (clinics and hospitals) in Occitanie were labeled by the ARS for long Covid. After diagnosis, they refer patients to 18 rehabilitation and rehabilitation centers.

In addition to the nurses assigned to the coordination, the system provides for clinical research associates to analyze the accumulated data to better understand the disease.

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