She has to take high doses of pain medication, has severe memory lapses, can hardly stand and is dependent on a wheelchair: After contracting corona in December 2020, nothing is the same for Katharina (28) and her family.

The 28-year-old, who loved her job as a cycling postwoman and was a passionate unicyclist, can no longer manage her everyday life without outside help. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2024 that Katharina was diagnosed with what she was suffering from, her brother-in-law Christoph Merkel (40) told on Wednesday (May 8, 2024).

“Today we know it is ME/CFS, chronic fatigue syndrome,” he says. The syndrome is a typical side effect or consequence of serious illnesses such as Covid or cancer.

Katharina, whose job relied on direct customer contact, was ill with the original type of Covid-19 at the end of 2020. She was vaccinated, but it took months for her to recover. She was able to return to work in May 2021. Her brother-in-law: “She is a very modest girl and was proud to be at Deutsche Post.”

A booster vaccination then went without any problems. But suddenly the young postwoman developed a fever and fainted while riding her bike. “It was a hot day, at first we thought it was because of that,” says her brother-in-law Christoph. But a long path of suffering was about to begin for Katharina.

The fever came back in spurts. She was medically turned inside out, nothing was found, then “merely” a mental illness was suspected – until finally, after her husband Daniel did his own research, the 28-year-old was diagnosed with ME/CFS.

“Now the fever attacks can come every day,” explains the brother-in-law. Katharina would also receive some morphine to relieve her pain. Christoph has now started a fundraising campaign for his sister-in-law via Gofundme. The 28-year-old and her husband live in the rather rural Swisttal (Rhein-Sieg district), around 35 kilometers from Cologne, and are dependent on a car.

But her old Renault station wagon, which Katharina’s wheelchair barely fit into, has given up the ghost. However, being mobile is important because the young woman needs to be closely looked after by various specialists and physiotherapists, among others.

Katharina and her husband would like to use the donations via Gofundme to buy a used car. Thanks to this platform, money has already been successfully collected, including for the widow of the Phantasialand employee who died in an accident.

The couple is toying with a “Renault Kangoo”, which is available used for around 13,000 euros. “Due to Katharina’s health situation, this is an investment for her and her husband that they cannot easily shoulder,” explains brother-in-law Christoph.

With his appeal for donations he is asking for support: “Today Katharina is 28 years old and should be in a phase of life in which she should not think about wheelchairs or wheelchair-accessible vehicles. We hope to be able to take some of her worries away and lay the foundation for her to be able to participate more in life again in the distant future.”

By Iris Klingelhöfer (iri)

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The original for this article “Katharina (28) was a postman with heart and soul – now she can barely stand” comes from