How I won my battle against the lonely hell of COVID
The virus turned my body into a theatre of war, until the day I fought back.
The virus turned my body into a theatre of war, until the day I fought back
We were standing by the printer in that place we once called the office.
“You’re the science reporter. Tell me, is this weird new virus ever going to come to South Africa?”
“I’m sure it will spread to some other countries but who knows where it will land,” I said.
For some time still, it remained an SEP – Someone Else’s Problem.
Then, on a sticky Sunday afternoon in Cape Town, I got a sore throat and a thumping headache. And thus began my journey of Covid hell.
On the night I received my results, I sat in my isolation room at my house. The one minute I’d be terrified, the next I’d soothe myself, as one might a toddler scared of the dark.
“It is going to be okay. Most people have a very mild form of the disease. Just breathe.”
Breathe I did, but in constant fear that this most basic human function would desert me as the disease got worse. My body became a theatre of war.
I tried to stay ahead of the virus, anticipating its next location for an attack.
The headaches came and went, and the sore throat intensified, but the virus added so much to its arsenal, and its cunning war strategy seemed to shift from day to day.
Or maybe its very strategy was just that: surprise your enemy. My sense of smell and taste were stolen.
You’d be amazed at how these senses not only orientate you in everyday life, but also bring you immense pleasure.
I missed them dearly, but they were the least of my problems.I was more aware of my limbs made of lead.
I couldn’t hold my arms up to read a book, let alone exercise in my isolation room.
With those leaden limbs and aching muscles came a toxic mix of fear, discomfort, and exhaustion. The days blurred into one another.
Then, one morning, as I stood up, the enemy engulfed me in a wave of nausea. I felt that way all day, and drifted in and out of sleep.
Only when night fell did the true horror come: violent vomiting, convulsing muscles, chills, diarrhoea. And on top of that – utter loneliness.
The three masked faces of my family members appeared at the door. They said some kind words and left a bucket and mop.
Unable to stand, I sat under a stream of water in the shower, and cried. When was this going to end? How was it going to end?
Two days later, the virus finally went to my lungs. Every breath was punctuated with a spongy feeling that made me feel dizzy and weak.
The hospitals were full, and this only made me panic. It wasn’t a case of, “don’t worry, if you can’t breathe, an ambulance will whisk you away to the nearest hospital and oxygen will be at hand.”
My mind was crammed with images of people gasping for air and being turned away and worse yet, dying alone in a hospital, barricaded from loved ones who last saw them through the glass of the hospital entrance.
Over the next few days, however, the fear subsided. My body felt battered, but it was finally winning.
My health returned and just as excitingly, my freedom of movement.
Not to travel the globe and see the fjords of Patagonia, but instead, to an enchanted world where there’s a pale green couch, a kettle that’s always warm, a few dogs mooching about, and three people I love more than life itself.
I now know for sure. The mundane is a magical thing.