5 November 2023 – 14:30
Up to 50 symptoms that make her daily life unbearable is faced by the 25-year-old girl, who decided to “run” a fundraiser to cover her medical expenses
“I am 25 years old and instead of living every moment, I am completely disabled by the Covid-19 virus. Every day, for 22 months, I have been struggling with long-term pain and symptoms. I didn’t know what was happening to me.” These are the words that describe the daily life of 25-year-old Katiana Mecca from Volos, who from one moment to the next saw her daily life change and her life… disappear.
Reporting: IOANNA BOUROPOULOU
For the largest part of the population, the coronavirus is a forgotten reality, an experience of the past, a bad memory. For Katiana, however, and for thousands of other people in Greece, the coronavirus and its symptoms have not passed. Their life remains painful, their daily life unbearable and the treatment by the state and the medical world inferior.
The 25-year-old Voliotissa has been fighting a daily “battle” for about two years now. She has submitted herself to a series of tests and treatments in order to take her life back into her own hands. And all this by paying huge sums of money from her family budget and without herself being able to work to provide.
For this reason, with the help of her friends, she organized an online fundraiser through the GoGetFunding.com platform, in order to raise money to cover her medical needs.
“I wish I could say there is a cure and I’m going to raise a certain amount for that cure, but unfortunately that’s not the case,” he says, speaking to POST OFFICE and adds that despite the fact that the financial need has existed for a long time, it was difficult for him to make the decision to ask for public assistance.
“My goal, now, is only survival. In general, fundraising is not easy for me at all. I never imagined that I would reach a point in my life where I would be reaching out to strangers for financial help. But I believe that young children, our own age, show enormous support, support and compassion” she explains, while in just two days her online fundraiser has collected 10% of the total amount she has set.
Katiana Mecca, is a graduate of the Volos Music School and was actively involved in sports. She is a student at the School of Architectural Engineering at the University of Thessaly, but her hospitalization forced her to suspend her studies, one step before graduation.
“Long Covid syndrome found me when I was doing my thesis. I am now in the process of suspending my studies. I didn’t owe any lessons, but now I can’t do anything but work and study. By force I am autonomous in daily activities” she says.
“I never got well”
Her daily life has changed drastically. Since December 2021, when he first contracted the coronavirus, he has been dealing with multisystemic problems. During her first hospitalization she had a high fever and shortness of breath, but did not require hospitalization. But during the four months after the illness, he experienced at least 40 symptoms such as chest pains, numbness, horrible pains, malaise and intense fatigue.
“The condition worsened every month, culminating in my second illness 1 year later. I didn’t know what was happening to me. After many specialties and many doctors and ER visits, I ended up at a Long Covid center and some knowledgeable doctors. Now my suffering had a name: Long Covid syndrome and within that myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), POTS syndrome and dysautonomia. Chronic and hitherto incurable diseases, with minimal acceptance and investigation, especially in Greece. Despite the confirmation and relief (spiritually) that I finally had some answers, there was no symptomatic relief, nor a plan for the future,” the 25-year-old points out.
As he states, at present, the management of the syndrome in Greece is both expensive and complex, as the pathophysiology is not yet known and many experimental treatments are being tested, with the result that patients are faced with the possibility of “trial and error” and to harm themselves.
She herself has recorded more than 50 symptoms a day, which she describes as extremely limiting. “I experience shortness of breath, palpitations when sitting and standing, muscle spasms, burning sensation, blurred vision and many neurological problems, and many times I even lose the ability to speak. I belong to the 10% of serious cases, but unfortunately I have lost every trace of everyday life.”
Patient and victim psychological abuse
The biggest problem of long covid patients is the so-called Medical Gaslighting, i.e. the questioning and, at the same time, the psychiatricization of the disease.
“I belong to a group of Greek patients with this syndrome that numbers at least 4,000 people. Most of them, who are of productive age, are in a severe to limiting condition. And yet, the worst, is that they feel ostracized by society. We are becoming victims of psychological abuse and questioning, at a time when the rest of society is leaving the pandemic behind,” says Ms. Mecca.
However, in addition to the others, patients with long covid syndrome are excluded from public health. In the public structures, says Ms. Mecca, there are no doctors who specialize in such cases and consequently patients are forced to pay private doctors and private clinics, without any support from the state.
“In Greece there is no allowance. It is not considered a disability, as is the case abroad. For those who work, it is even harder, resulting in them either being pushed to make ends meet at work or even quitting. The costs, however, are prohibitive. For two years now I have spent a lot of money on doctors, who in 90% of the cases, did not know how to manage my problems. So because I have reached a point, due to all this exhaustion, where the situation has worsened, I decided to make more targeted moves and I decided to do the funding, to ask for help because the expenses are increasing dramatically. I don’t know what needs I will have this year and if I will need to contact a doctor abroad. Each doctor’s appointment or a specialized examination costs at least 100 euros in Greece. There are doctors abroad who want 3,500 euros just to see my tests,” he explains.
A wave of solidarity
Despite the fact that the online fundraiser has only been in effect for two days, the wave of support that the 25-year-old Voliotissa has received is huge and touching.
Friends, acquaintances and even strangers have, so far, donated amounts that have exceeded 1,000 euros, while the mobilization that exists through social networks is also great.
“Your contribution, no matter the size, will make a big difference in my life. It will allow me to try to gain access to medical care that is not currently available in Greece, to look for better doctors in Greece and to create a support network beyond my immediate family” emphasizes Katiana Mecca in her text.