Hundreds of Hamburg residents lay down on the Gänsemarkt during a symbolic demonstration. They are calling for more research and education for a mysterious illness that has been occurring more frequently since the beginning of the corona pandemic and that is currently incurable. Every single case is tragic.

Elena Büttner was a happy biochemistry student when she became infected with Corona in November 2021. It was the time of the Delta variant.

At first, the young woman, who lives with her boyfriend, a medical student, in Ottensen, wasn’t worried. Because hardly anyone in her environment was spared from the pandemic at the time.

“I felt like I had a bad flu,” says the 24-year-old. But you can immediately see that this flu was different when you meet Elena Büttner at the Gänsemarkt. Because the young woman is sitting in a wheelchair.

She is tired and weak, her skin pale. It is uncertain whether she will ever get her old life back.

Elena Büttner has ME/CFS. This stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It can be triggered by a corona infection. But also through a corona vaccination. Or from other infectious diseases.

Each of the approximately 400 people at the Gänsemarkt has a different story. But they are all united by a long, painful odyssey.

“It took two years until a doctor took me seriously,” says 31-year-old Miriam Jahnel from Buxtehude, who can no longer do her job as a graphic designer. Immediately after the corona vaccination, Jahnel started having dizzy spells.

She could no longer speak, no longer eat, no longer concentrate. All strength drained from her body. This continues to this day.

“The doctors diagnosed everything: hay fever, asthma. I am unsportsmanlike. I’m a hypochondriac. Eventually they accused me of mental health problems.”

Because ME/CFS has hardly been researched, no one thought that Jahnel could suffer from it. could. Instead, she was recommended to do more exercise. “That’s exactly the wrong thing! This only makes the disease worse,” reports Jahnel.

Most people at the goose market experienced what happened to her. And also those who demonstrated in Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt and many other German cities. The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians estimates that there are around 500,000 ME/CFS sufferers in Germany. Ascending trend. Many children are also affected. Her parents founded the association “nichtGenesenKids”.

The sick or their relatives are demanding further training for family doctors so that they do not make incorrect diagnoses and thereby only make the illness worse. They are calling for an outpatient clinic to be set up at the UKE so that those affected have a point of contact. And they are demanding funding for research so that there is a chance of a cure at some point.

“I want my old life back,” says a poster at the Gänsemarkt. “We want to live, not survive,” on another. “Living with ME/CFS is like being buried alive,” on another.

They are words of desperation. Cries for help. Because the disease is so unexplored, those affected don’t know what will happen to them.

“I’m afraid that I’ll feel even worse,” says student Elena Büttner, who currently only manages to leave her apartment once a week. In the wheelchair. “Maybe one day I won’t be able to go out.”

Büttner has already had three serious breakdowns. “Crashes,” as she says. Each time she couldn’t move for weeks afterwards. Each time, the general state of exhaustion afterwards was worse than before.

The 24-year-old had to muster the last bit of strength she had left to make the trip to the Gänsemarkt. “It is important that I am here. But I realize I’ll have to recover from this for days.”

By Nina Gessner

Since she was 19, Anouk has been unable to eat without pain without vomiting. Doctors diagnosed Dunbar syndrome. The 25-year-old explains how much it limits her – but she doesn’t give up hope.

A group of young people is said to have attacked two men in Magdeburg in Saxony-Anhalt, one of whom died. The victim died from life-threatening injuries, police said on Wednesday.

The original for this article “Corona victim Elena in a wheelchair: “Maybe I can’t get out anymore”” comes from Mopo.