For two years, the Prince George Hospice Palliative Care Society has offered a support group for long-term COVID sufferers looking for answers.
Brain fog, fatigue, shortness of breath, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, irritable bowel syndrome, body pain, trouble sleeping anxiety, depression – they’re all symptoms of long COVID.
The hospice puts on group sessions Monday afternoons to connect COVID long-haulers in-person and virtually to offer support and grief counselling.
“There’s a huge grief component to getting long COVID. Most of the people getting it are incredibly active, high-achieving, multitasking professional people and long COVID cuts them off at the knees,” said Denise Torgerson, the society’s community programs manager. “They go from being incredibly active to ‘On my God, I can’t even go for a walk around the block. It’s really debilitating and devastating.’”
Torgerson said the weekly group sessions encourage people to share their experiences and let out their frustrations and perhaps have a laugh or two hearing first-person stories.
“It’s a mix of resource-based, grief-based and camaraderie – they’re lonely,” Torgerson said. “The illness itself is compounded by what people are suggesting, that you literally do nothing, so its kind of like Groundhog Day, everybody’s pretty bored and it’s stress related. The more stress there is, the more symptoms will show their ugly heads.”
The original participants when the group first met in 2021 have all since left and are back to their jobs. The current group has about 30 people and most of the meetings have 10 or fewer participants.
“We’ve just had a big surge, last week we had five or six people call out of the blue,” said Torgerson. “The government and medical system are acting like it’s over but there’s new people being diagnosed with this all the time. They’re shutting down the clinics and not giving many resources to it, but it’s still going on.”
For more information, go to the website or call 250-563-2551.