Throughout this period, we are constantly bombarded with the impact that Covid-19 has had on the whole world and for some of us it has been devastatingly close to home. Pondering on the impact I also wanted to get a personal perspective from someone that contracted the virus. The following story was graciously provided by Hansel and Gretel (pseudonyms) as told by Gretel:
On Tuesday, 7th July, Hansel came home not feeling well. He had a cough, felt dizzy and complained of a tight chest. We thought it was just the flu. He mentioned that he was in contact with someone who had been in contact with someone the day before who had since received confirmation of being COVID-19 positive. He took sick leave on the Wednesday. On Thursday morning he went to work, but came home early again, as he wasn’t feeling well at all. On Friday morning, when he phoned his GP, he was immediately sent for the COVID test. He was flat in bed since then. From that time, because of the potential risk, we started living separate lives at home – I moved to the spare bedroom and he stayed in our room. I separated cutlery and crockery for his exclusive use.
Monday, 13th July around 8am, he got a phone call from his GP to advise that his test results came back positive. The GP prescribed Vitamins B, C and D and he was still on his flu medication from the previous week. His GP also advised that there is no need for me to go for the test and must just monitor my symptoms. Hansel’s cough and tight chest was worse by then. He was also dizzy and did not eat much (that in itself was my indication that he’s definitely sick!). He later referred to this first week as a “dark week”. Being cooped/confined to the room, alone at night with his thoughts, not having me close to him or next to him in the bed at night, worried about his family, whether they will survive without him, is he going to survive this virus which infiltrated his body, his mind and his thoughts.
The following day (Tuesday), I woke up with a cough and tight chest. Upon Hansel’s insistence I called my GP who immediately, upon hearing I am living with someone who tested positive, insisted I be tested for COVID-19 as well. I must admit that after this call I felt very much like I was needed to only “fill a quota”. Not enough attention was given to the actual reason for my call and to hear about my symptoms. It was like the minute she heard the dreaded “C” word, I was regarded as just another statistic. My results came back less than 48hrs later (Thursday morning), I also tested positive. I was prescribed Vit B, C, D and Zinc – It felt like I tried to overdose twice a day as I had to take a total of 24 tablets a day for 2 weeks!
Hansel took a turn for the worse on the Thursday. After a call to his GP, he was sent for x-rays. I drove him to hospital as he couldn’t drive himself (he really struggled with shortness of breath). I waited in the car while he went to the casualty section. He was then sent for tests to check his oxygen levels in cordoned off rooms. He said afterwards that he felt like a “sissy” seeing how others are struggling and him being able to “manage” his shortness of breath. All tests came back clear which was a huge relief. That excursion took the better part of a day with me sitting in my car in the parking lot. I was trying to keep myself busy with work deliverables on my laptop – more to keep my mind busy than needing to catch-up on work 😉
During the two weeks, even though I had no symptoms other than the initial cough and tight chest, I had brief flashes of panicked thoughts. Reality was gripping me, we’re infected with a virus that has caused and still is causing a global pandemic. We’re in the high risk group (50+), Hansel is pre-diabetic and was really taking strain that first week showing very bad symptoms. However, as quick as these thoughts entered my mind, I forced myself to think of our country’s very high recovery rate (which at the time was more than 50%). That I believe is what gave me the edge, just trying to look for the positives.
New “skills” had to be learnt during this time – how to stay safe in my own house, sanitising constantly, wiping down surfaces, ensuring cutlery/crockery are kept separately and HAVING TO REGISTER FOR ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING! Online shopping for clothes or gifts or something special is so different to having to shop for groceries online LOL! Needing to remember to wipe down/spray plastic bags filled with groceries and all the grocery items down before packing away.
Compared to Hansel, I had very mild symptoms, apart from the sudden onslaught of extreme tiredness. The Sunday after my results I spent the whole day in bed (even “attending” church service in my PJ’s!). I took a half day sick leave the following Thursday to recoup and to take some time off work. I think that the stresses of the past 2 weeks were starting to catch up with me then.
In addition to the tablets that I had to force down my throat every day, I took on board all the “oumens rade” (old people remedies) from my family – hot water/tea with lemon, ginger, turmeric 😉 and keeping rooms as ventilated as possible. This was difficult for Hansel because he experienced extreme coldness, shivering with teeth clattering even under 3 blankets and spending time in the sun during the day.
Family and friends were amazing in their support, checking in constantly, offering to help with anything, get groceries to drop off at the gate and keeping us in prayers and thoughts. That in itself, I now believe, was also the unknowing force that kept me going.
“The morning will come again. No darkness, no season is eternal.” – BTS, “Spring Day”