COVID-19 changed their lives

As the second wave of COVID-19 hits, hundreds of Quebecers continue to suffer months after being infected with the virus, some marked by physical or psychological consequences.

“I conquered the coronavirus, but at what cost! »Launches Jacques Goupil after 40 days of coma and a loss of 70 pounds.

This 68-year-old bus driver is among the fifteen survivors who generously agreed to confide in the Newspaper about the traces the virus has left on their bodies and in their minds.

Fatigue, trouble concentrating, and heart or lung problems are the lot of the majority of people aged 23 to 72 with the long form of the disease we spoke to.

Big price to pay

But many pay a heavier price. Among them, a 59-year-old mechanic who has to deal with “a ragged foot” and a paralyzed part of the face.

“I still have a little voice in my head that says: is everything going to get back to normal? »Breaths Jean-François Gagnon.

Georges Aguiar, 47, already knows that he will never regain full use of his hand. Young retiree from education, François Quenot was finally able to walk again four months after being infected. Some of his muscle mass “is lost forever” after 68 days of intensive care.

Anguish of the unknown

For others, it is the anguish of the unknown.

“I would like to say some words, but it doesn’t come out like it used to. It destabilizes me enormously, ”says Marie-Isabelle Marchand. At 53, she is relearning to speak with a speech therapist, who uses an answering machine message to help her find her voice.

At 23 and struggling with inflammation of the brain, Camille Cusson does not know when she will be able to resume her nursing career. Sandra Leblond is also worried about persistent cognitive problems.

“I’m afraid it will remain permanent; it’s been months and it’s not improving, ”says the 32-year-old mother.

How will this type of after-effects evolve?

“There are a series of unknowns. If a side effect takes five years to appear, for example, you can’t speed it up, ”says Dr.r Francois Marquis.

A lottery

No wonder Caroline Marceau compares this disease to “a lottery”.

“It’s true that people are going to do well. But you don’t know how you’re going to react, ”illustrates the 41-year-old mother, still suffering from palpitations after eight months.

“I am in the statistics of the cured, but there are also the mortgaged, and there are many in titi”, adds Violaine Cousineau, 46 years old and mother of two children, who can no longer express herself without a very little trickle of voice, she has no more breath.

The long form of COVID-19 “is not a figment of the imagination, insists cardiologist Eric Sabbah. We see people unable to resume their lives even after several weeks, ”he says.

Recent articles from Journal of the American Medical Association and British Medical Journal estimated that nearly 10% of patients have symptoms months after being infected.


Jean-François Gagnon | 59 years old

  • Hospitalized 53 days
  • 18 days in a coma
  • Very weak left foot
  • Half face paralyzed
  • He developed tachycardia

Jacques Goupil | 68 years old

  • 41 days of coma
  • Lost 70 lbs
  • Has relearned to walk, eat and talk
  • Breathless
  • Paralyzed vocal cord

Camille Cusson | 23 years

  • On sick leave for more than 6 months
  • Fatigue, headaches and trouble concentrating
  • Encephalopathy diagnosis

Francis Brizard | 57 years old

  • 12 days of coma
  • Paralyzed vocal cords
  • Had to undergo a tracheostomy following his intubation
  • Lack of energy

Marie-Isabelle Marchand | 53 years

  • Difficulty making certain sounds
  • Still suffers from fatigue
  • Experiences cognitive problems

Caroline Marceau | 41 years

  • Has a heart disorder
  • Often short of breath
  • Stunned just while walking
  • Lives a lot of anxiety

François Quenot | 62 years old

  • 68 days in intensive care
  • Five weeks in a coma
  • Muscle mass lost forever
  • Weakness and little endurance

Sandra Leblond | 32 years old

  • Concentration problems
  • Memory loss
  • Quickly short of breath if she tries to play with her children

Sophie Huppe | 45 years old

Photo Didier Debusschère

  • Fatigue and headaches persist
  • The blackouts lasted 5 months
  • She loses her breath at the slightest physical effort

Violaine Cousineau | 46 years

Photo QMI Agency, Joël Lemay

  • Reduced lung capacity
  • Heart murmur detected
  • Difficulty walking and speaking

Pedro Barbosa | 51 years old

Photo QMI Agency, Dominick Gravel

  • Lost hearing skills
  • Taste and smell still not returned to normal
  • Fatigue forces him to take daily naps

Michel Lapierre | 72 years old

  • Hospitalized 60 days
  • 30 days of coma
  • 40 pounds lost
  • Lack of energy
  • Had to retire

We know that we die of it, but we know less about the after-effects of the survivors

Photo courtesy, Sylvain Durocher

Experts warn against the still unknown physical sequelae and the psychological distress that the virus can leave in its wake.

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The face paralyzed six months later

Surviving intensive care was only the first round in a long fight against COVID-19, learned a 50-year-old who has yet to regain full use of a leg in addition to having half of the face paralyzed six months after her hospitalization.

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A COVID-19 miracle worker who had to relearn to walk … and eat

Jacques Goupil almost never woke up. On three occasions, his doctors predicted his death, not knowing what to do to help him beat the disease. After 40 days in a coma and 70 lbs lighter, the 68-year-old has won the biggest fight of his life, but not at any cost.

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Barely 23 and already forced to put her nursing career on hold

A nurse in her early twenties had to put her studies on hiatus in addition to being off work for six months because of a COVID-19 infection that struck her down.

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A tracheostomy for life?

More than eight months after contracting COVID-19, Francis Brizard still does not know if we will one day be able to remove the tracheostomy that the virus left him as a legacy.

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The answering machine to know your voice

A nursing assistant who has lost the use of her voice in addition to having speech problems since her infection is now followed in speech therapy, where she is still learning to speak again, seven months later.

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She is cured of COVID-19, but still mortgaged

Photo QMI Agency, Joël Lemay

“I am in the statistics of the cured, but there are also the mortgaged, and there are many in titi”, murmurs Violaine Cousineau, unable to raise her voice, choked by shortness of breath.

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A survivor’s long walk to recovery

Plunged for more than a month in a coma due to COVID-19, a new retiree who wanted to discover the world has rather come close to death.

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Her heart still hasn’t recovered from this trauma

A mother, whose heart still bears the consequences of her COVID-19 infection, worries that the shortness of breath and heart palpitations she has been feeling since will never go away.

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Sudden hair loss months later

People who thought they were done with COVID-19 have had the unpleasant surprise of experiencing an intense period of hair loss, months after contracting the virus.

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An artists’ agent who can’t hear well

Photo QMI Agency, Dominick Gravel

After losing both smell and taste, a music artist manager, who has lost the ability to hear certain frequencies since his battle with COVID-19, is now hoping to regain his hearing.

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The miracle of the Cité-de-la-Santé not out of the woods

Photo QMI Agency, Joël Lemay

A man who was in a coma for a month in the spring due to COVID-19 is still trying to regain 100% of his form amid the second wave of the pandemic.

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They forget everything many months later

Photos: Chantal Poirier and Didier Debusschère

Women who continue to live with impaired concentration and memory after suffering from COVID-19 worry that these consequences will later affect their brains.

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The nerve of his hand destroyed forever

A father struck by the virus will never find the full use of the left hand again because of the way he was positioned during the 15 days he had to spend in a coma.

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