Surviving Covid-19 Twice
While editing this article, I got a call to say that my family member who had been on a ventilator for 1 month and 1 day was gone; the fight was over and Covid won. I am numb. Covid-19 has been emotionally, financially, and physically draining for the global population.
Almost every person in the world can say that their 2020 has been an awful year in one way or another. We are tired of keeping safe, we are tired of not being able to let loose and for many, particularly those of us who work in live entertainment, we are petrified that our income will not come back. I understand the complacency. I understand the desire to want to give up on social distancing. I understand the need for social connection.
As a mother, I deeply understand the pain and suffering that our children are experiencing and I desperately want to give my daughter a normal December holiday, beach and all. We went to the beach the day of Cyril’s speech and the fresh air and ocean view were amazing. We are lucky, we are now Covid immune for 2.5 more months. However, the thousands of people who were visiting Camps Bay beach and overflowing the restaurants without masks do not all have the anti-bodies that I do and it was traumatic to see. Why? Because I have seen the other side…
I am a 2x Covid-19 survivor. The second time, I landed up in hospital and I had a rare glimpse of behind the scenes.
When Covid-19 hit South Africa, it felt, to me, like a fictional character. I will admit that when the first lockdown was set, I was not too worried about the disease.
I soon realized the gravity of what was ahead of us and in April I really started trying my best to avoid this horrible illness. My two activities were going to get groceries, sanitized and masked, and, once permitted, going for my daily run while wearing a mask. I was fit then and running brought me immense joy. At that stage, my 5 year old was back at school (My husband and I were both working from home so home-schooling wasn’t an option for us).
In June 2020, I developed the worst headache of my life and this is coming from someone who has suffered from migraines for most of my life. Soon after, I could no longer taste or smell, I became lethargic, had aches and pains, a sore chest, and a low-grade fever. It was time to go to the doctor. When I arrived at the doctors’ rooms, the nurses gave me a Covid form and I ticked every box. After my temperature was taken, I was immediately sent to sit in the isolation waiting room before being sent for a Covid-19 test. When filling out my contact form, I was thankful that I had only seen the members of my household, and I also had to put my local Spar and my daughter’s school as contacts. While waiting for the results, I began to get sicker and sicker. I could feel my breath entering my body with great difficulty.
I tested positive. The government sent me an SMS to stay quarantined and my doctor called me with the news. I was told to stay indoors, take vitamins B, D, and C, and Paracetamol (anything stronger can cause clotting in a Covid patient) and to call an ambulance if I could no longer breathe. I eventually got so sick that I could barely walk and talk. I could not watch TV as my brain was foggy and I could not handle intense stimulation. There I was – a broken blob, lying in my bed, with a disease that medical personnel still knew little about. This was Saturday.
On Sunday, I felt myself suffocating. My husband called the Jewish organization CSO who have an amazing Covid support program. They told me to lie on my stomach while waiting for the ambulance. By the time they came, my oxygen had stabilized so I, thankfully, did not have to take up a hospital bed. On Monday, CSO dropped a pulse oxymeter and thermometer at our house. I was assigned an amazing volunteer who called me daily for my readings and who I could call at any time. I know that not all South Africans have had this privilege and I cannot begin to imagine the fear of facing this alone, without solid support. I cannot imagine going to a testing station, getting a government SMS and then having to experience Covid without having the money to buy the required tools and medication.
The next week and a half was a blur of moments of severe oxygen loss, emergency Oxygen intake, extreme pain and anything too loud being over-stimulation.
Eventually I came out the other side. I could watch TV and I began to feel like a human again, albeit a broken one. I developed Post-Covid Fatigue and it took me 3 months until I was somewhat myself again. I once again started to jog and I was slowly rebuilding my fitness levels. On top of this Covid numbers were decreasing and everything felt bright again. I also had 3 months of medical confirmed immunity and I felt safe and at peace, despite the severe exhaustion and fear for my loved ones health and safety.
The Covid numbers continued to decrease and my freelance work was coming back. I was finally able to do some work in the arts again. I think that for many of us, we were seeing the end in sight and we thought that Covid would die with 2020.