A student struck down with Long Covid has made a desperate appeal to Nicola Sturgeon for support and is urging young people to take the vaccine.
Freja Lundberg wrote to Ms Sturgeon asking for more specialist clinics to be made.
But she was left “dismayed” by the First Minister’s response, which said we must “learn more about this condition” before we consider a move to create more specialist clinics.”
The student, who lives in Inverness, has now written an open follow-up letter to the First Minister asking for a meeting and demanding to know why she has been “abandoned” by the health system.
The two-page A4 letter shared online says: “I expected there to be medical support in place, instead I have been abandoned by the health system.
“My GP tried to refer me to cardiology, respiratory and infection diseases but none took my referrals because I am a Covid patient.
“Attempts were made also to refer me to the Covid team in Raigmore Hospital but they only take patients who have been hospitalised.
“Like so many others, I have been sidelined because you do not know what to do with me. We need help now.
“We cannot wait for years until extensive research has been carried out.”
When she tested positive for Covid in January, Miss Lundberg, 23, feared its full impact.
She has a rare genetic condition called hereditary neuropathy with pressure palsies (HNPP) which causes numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the limbs but has been managing it well for the last five years.
Never did she think Covid would be such a blow.
But it has wrecked her chances of graduating from the University of Aberdeen this summer with a first-class honours degree in geography and international relations.
Left with brain fog, breathing problems and fatigue topped off with a preliminary diagnosis of Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) – a condition linked to Long Covid affecting blood flow – Miss Lundberg has to sleep 16 hours a day and has lost five stone, dropping three dress sizes.
But she says the feeling of abandonment by the health service has ruined her mental health most of all.
She said: “When I was diagnosed with HNPP I was literally the only known person in Scotland to have been diagnosed with it.
“But I have had way more support for that than I had for Long Covid – despite the fact that there are loads of other people with Long Covid.
“It’s ridiculous, the Scottish Government keeps sticking to the same line about needs having to be met locally by existing services.
“If that was working I would not be kicking up a fuss.”
‘Take the vaccine’
Miss Lundberg hopes her campaign will underline the longer term health risks associated with Covid.
“Covid is so much more than deaths and hospitalisations,” she said.
“I did not stay a single night in hospital. It’s not as simple as you are fine or you get hospitalised and die. It’s not like that at all.
“I was a reasonably high-flyer.
“I was one of the finalists for the First Minister’s mentorship in 2017 – I was handpicked by Nicola Sturgeon and now I can’t even get a proper response.
“I was volunteering abroad in South Africa for a year, I’ve studied abroad for a semester as well. I do have an existing medical condition but I have done all this. But now there is no way I can do anything like that.
“The best defence against this and against long term disability is to get vaccinated.
“Obviously, it’s not a fail safe but you still can reduce the chances of getting Long Covid.”
She believes younger people may be more aware of the problem and government would be more pressured to act if daily statistics were published showing numbers affected with Long Covid.
She added: “I think part of the problem is that there is no official record of the number of people with Long Covid that we hear about and until you’ve got the numbers it’s very easy for government to ignore the crisis that is unfolding.
A government spokesman said: “Whilst Long Covid clinics are one model that NHS boards may explore, we know no one single approach is likely to fit all areas and circumstances.
“We are keeping all aspects under review, including specialist services and funding to ensure people suffering from long Covid receive the best possible care and support.”
Miss Lundberg has started a dedicated Long Covid Instagram account sharing her story and experiences with the handle @thrawnfreja