Dylan Kelly, 25, studied chemistry at The University of Manchester and was an avid soccer player, swimmer, and gym goer before catching COVID-19 in February 2020.
He had just been accepted to study medicine at Queen’s University Belfast and was hoping to become a doctor once he had finished.
Dylan’s COVID-19 cleared but his brain fog and fatigue persisted, so doctors diagnosed him with long COVID in May 2020, and chronic fatigue syndrome in August 2020.
His long COVID-caused chronic fatigue syndrome, brain fog that makes it difficult to even understand speech, a debilitating lack of energy, nerve pain, and migraines.
As a result of his severe symptoms, he has rejected his offer at university, can’t work, and has had to give up exercise completely as he is wheelchair-bound.
Dylan, from Bangor, Northern Ireland, said: “My disability has ruined my life. I had an offer for med school which I had to turn down.
“I don’t have the energy to have a social conversation without my brain fog becoming so bad it feels like I can’t understand English.
“I have even less energy than before. This has left me in a wheelchair and I spend almost all my time in bed; not how I envisioned my 20s were going to be.”
Dylan now has to live with his parents, Janet Force, and Gerard Kelly, both 57.
Janet, a civil servant, has had to change the departments and teams she works in, so she can work from home part of the time and care for Dylan.
Dylan said: “Without my mom looking after me, it would be impossible to live.
“I’ve been keeping myself occupied with Netflix, TikTok and messaging my friends because that’s about all I can do.”
Dylan visited a neurologist in August 2022 and was told that COVID-19 may have attacked his nervous system, causing his disability.
Between 150,000 and 250,000 people in the UK have chronic fatigue syndrome and the disease has no known treatments.
This leaves Dylan to hope for the future, he has given up his dreams of becoming a doctor.
He said: “I try not to think about my future at all and just try to get through each day.
“I had to learn to live with this disability and grieve my old life.
“I had to accept I would not become the doctor I had dreamed of being. Eventually, it got easier, but it’s still not easy.
“I was in long COVID support groups online, but I soon left them because people were posting recoveries when it seemed like I was just getting worse.
“My belief is the only way I’ll recover from this illness is if a treatment is found; without treatment, I’ll be forced to live the rest of my life in bed.
“I can’t exercise because if I do my symptoms get worse and my overall health suffers meaning I have even less energy than before.
“I was part of a football team, went to the gym three to four times a week, and was very socially active.
“I have had friends come round to visit me, but that exhausts me quickly, so it never feels worth it.
“I can no longer plan and look forward to exciting things because my life is just stuck in this bed.
“However, if I miraculously woke up cured I’d definitely be reapplying to med school.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker