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Senneville man dealing with long COVID says health-care system has let him down

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A year ago, Mitch Lafon, 55, was a high school teacher and music journalist who was walking kilometres a day.

Then he contracted COVID-19.

"I mean, it's a whole new level of pain," said Lafon, who describes the headaches as feeling "like the Hulk is squishing my brain."

Today, Lafon can't walk without a walker or crutches, and he said he regularly passes out, requiring his 83-year-old mother to pick him off the floor.

Sitting in his home clutching his head, he described the "brain fog," which often makes Lafon lose his train of thought.

His life has become a far cry from the photos on his walls where he's seen with the likes of Selena Gomez, KISS, Duran Duran, and other top names in music.

"The longer I'm up, the more my head starts spinning," said Lafon. "I don't know what to do."

Lafon said there's no help for people like him. He said he's been on a waiting list for a family doctor for four years.

"You figure some guy who has one kidney and two heart surgeries would be at the top of the list," he said. "But that's another story."

In May, Lafon wrote the health ministry on clic-sante. He received a reply saying there is currently no medicine or rehabilitation treatment that can cure long COVID.

"However," the letter continues, "research teams are working on the development of knowledge and research on the treatment of this disease."

"They also told me to check the ministry's website for updates," said Lafon incredulously.

Lafon paid to see a private doctor, who referred him to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. He said both referred him to the long COVID clinic at the Jewish General Hospital.

"But then the long COVID clinic referred me to the ENT that referred me to them," he said.

In a statement, Montreal west central's health and social services (CIUSSS) spokesperson Carl Theriault wrote, "The long COVID clinic at the Jewish General Hospital provides specialized medical consultations to the clientele, as well as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing care and social services. In order to obtain a consultation at the clinic, a referral from a physician or a nurse practitioner is required."

Lafon said he followed all the steps but was still not chosen, and he's perplexed.

"I don't know what to do," he said. "I'm 55. I can't stand, I can't drive, I can't go to the restaurant, I can't go to Provigo. Am I just the living dead at this point?" 

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