Sinn Féin TD John Brady (49) detailed his struggles with the virus in the Dáil and criticised the Government over the lack of supports for those still suffering symptoms of Covid years after first contracting he disease.
However, despite the impact of the virus on his breathing, including a persistent cough, Mr Brady was able to complete the long-distance running event in a time which would be the envy of many of those competing.
The Wicklow TD, who has run the marathon 10 times, said he just “ploughs through” the long-Covid symptoms he suffers and will continue to compete in races.
“It’s very strange, say for the first four or five miles, I would be coughing and spluttering and then it’s like whatever is lining my chest works its way out,” Mr Brady told the Irish Independent.
He said he is “very conscious” there are people with worse symptoms than he has and concedes his condition is at the milder end among those impacted by the long-term illness.
“There are people with chronic fatigue who would not be able to get out of bed and I’m conscious of people I know, who would have been runners, literally can’t put one foot in front of the other and I’m at the very other end of the scale,” he said.
On November 9, while speaking in the Dáil, Mr Brady said long-Covid is a “very serious and debilitating illness that is impacting tens of thousands of people throughout the State”.
He said the condition is “being widely ignored by the Government and across the board”.
Mr Brady said he received the diagnosis of long-Covid after contracting the virus for the first time in October 2020.
“I still have a very severe cough. I went to GPs who gave me a diagnosis of asthma, put me on inhalers and sent me for chest X-rays, but there was no clearing of the cough whatsoever.
“After 18 months, they essentially put their hands in the air and said that I had long-Covid but there was absolutely nothing they could do about it,” he told the Dáil.
He criticised the lack of services for those suffering with his condition, saying it is “very concerning” that St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin has “limited available resources” to treat people with long-Covid.
“The Government needs to get real. The resources need to be put in to help people like me, and the many thousands of people out there living with long-Covid, to get on with their lives,” Mr Brady said
The Sinn Féin TD’s comments came just nine days after he completed the Dublin Marathon on October 30 in a highly impressive three hours and 37 minutes, according the race’s official website.
The time put Mr Brady in the top third of all the competitors in this year’s race.
The marathon was not held during the pandemic, but in 2019, he finished the race in three hours and 39 minutes, according to the race’s official website.
However, he finished in three hours and 25 minutes in 2018.
The previous year, 2017, he completed the race in three hours, 39 minutes. Mr Brady said he has competed in the race on 10 occasions and his personal best finish is three hours and 19 minutes.
In advance of the race this year, Mr Brady also competed in the Dublin Half Marathon – finishing the race in one hour and 37 minutes.
Nine days after that race on September 26, he gave an in-depth interview to Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 in which he highlighted his difficulties with the condition and the fact he had not heard from the long-Covid clinic in St Vincent’s Hospital despite being referred there by his GP in June.
He said he was not trying to jump the queue to be seen by the hospital but said it is concerning that the clinic is not able to cope with the demand from referrals due to a lack of resources.
Speaking the Irish Independenton Friday, the Sinn Féin TD said when he contracted Covid, it was spreading “like wildfire” through his home before vaccines were available to protect people from the pandemic that shut down the world.
Mr Brady said he continues to suffer with symptoms and has yet to receive an appointment from the long-Covid clinic in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.
He said he recently received a letter from the hospital asking if he still wanted to be seen by the clinic.
The TD said his wife is also still suffering the effect of the virus and has yet to fully get her taste back since being first struck with Covid two years ago.
Mr Brady said the virus does affect his breathing and he continues to have a serious cough.
“If I’m in the gym on the treadmill or anything like that people do be genuinely looking at me because I’m coughing and spluttering all over the place.”
The TD said he has “consciously” tried to not let the virus affect his exercise regime and said his doctors told him “if you can, keep at it”.
“There are many people there suffering with asthma and many other different disabilities and it is good for your mental health to go out and engage in physical activity so I try to just plough through it,” he added.