It’s always very easy to think of the Coronavirus as some far off disease when you haven’t personally dealt with it. When you see the numbers on TV, they’re just that, numbers. It doesn’t really mean much to you and it’s even difficult to take it seriously until you finally come face to face with it.
This was the situation I was in when I was exposed to the Coronavirus. I’m not really sure where I got it from. There are not very many ways I would have contracted it because I was indoors most of the time, but I got it nonetheless.
It all started when my mum felt her blood pressure was misbehaving. We went to the local hospital and after some tests, nothing was found to be actively causing the spike in pressure. She was advised to go to the hospital that usually treats her pressure. We did this the very next day. After the hospital visit, they also didn’t find anything unusual and prescribed the usual medication. They also, however, advised her to come in the next day for a Covid test. She did this. The results would come in about three days later.
This was around the Easter period and on Easter Sunday evening, my brothers and I had gone HAM on drinks as we just chilled and watched movies. I wake up the next day with a terrible headache and I automatically conclude that it’s the hangover. I didn’t think about it much then but if I would have, it would have been worth noticing that I don’t usually get headaches when I’m hungover. It’s mostly cravings for me. We move regardless. I stayed in bed for about two hours just nursing the headache and eventually it subsides. Not completely, but just enough to allow me to finally get out of bed.
I get out of bed and find that my sister is also in bed with a terrible headache. I didn’t make much of it. Make some breakfast and converse with my mum as I enjoy it. The ministry of health calls her and starts asking all these questions. They confirm that she indeed has the virus. We start panicking and pull out our masks. Funny thing is, she didn’t have any symptoms, except the spike in her blood pressure. We automatically conclude that my sister also very likely has it and I go buy her some painkillers. My headache, now in the background, is still irritating. So I take some painkillers myself. The pain subsides and I go on with my life as if nothing happened.
I’m a late sleeper, so that night I slept around one AM. Two hours later, I’m woken up by the worst headache I’ve ever had in quite a while. I try to assume that it’s not what I know deep down it is. I’m sweating like crazy and feeling terribly weak. Unfortunately, it was still within curfew hours and there wasn’t anyone I could send to get me some drugs. I can’t sleep, I can’t sit up. I can’t look at my phone, the light is killing me. The last time I felt this shitty was when I had malaria back in high school. I did not like it at all. As if things could not get any worse, I have an online exam that very morning that I can not miss. I start sending out emails to school confirming that I might be late in submitting my work. After thinking about it for a bit, I consider that it would be a nuisance to postpone the exam, so I decided to power through and get it over with.
Finished the exam and now that I’ve taken some painkillers, I can actually get some sleep. I go to bed and wake up sweating like a pig. It was so much so that the bedding was wet and I had to wipe myself off and flip the bedding just to be able to continue sleeping. I do my afternoon exam and continue sleeping. Throughout the day, the pain is increasing and I decide to buy around five pairs of panadol. I took them at six-hour intervals and was always a bit paranoid that I would be overdosing on them, so I set a timer to track how many pills I’m taking within a day. Generally, you shouldn’t take more than 8 tablets within a day and you shouldn’t take them within four hours of each other. The panadol really helped but after around four hours, the effects were wearing off. I could technically take another pill but this would make me run through the allowed dosage with some hours left on the clock for me to suffer through the headache. So I decide to suffer for two hours between each dosage. All this is building up with back pains, general fatigue, coughing, pain in the eye sockets and more others. It is not a good way to be.
I manage to get through the night and the next day, generally relying on the pain killers. At this point, my sister has also developed a sore throat and her headaches are also not going away. My mum is generally fine with the exception of her pressure. We now start drinking honey, ginger and lemon-infused water. At some point, I added some aloe vera and immediately regretted it. We generally ate a lot of fruits during the period.
On day three of my infection, I woke up with a terrible feeling in my throat. I’m not one to get sore throats, so I was really taken aback by this development. It’s been so long since I had a sore throat that the feeling felt like my throat was being sliced open. I couldn’t drink water or any liquid because, ironically, whenever I drank them, I felt as if my throat was drying up completely then being stretched out so that it can start cracking. So I generally avoided food for about sixteen hours on that day until it became unbearable and completely necessary. I didn’t eat much. At dinner, I didn’t eat much either. Something tricked me into eating a piece of lemon. You can imagine how that went.
Day four and five were generally the worst. At this time, I was starting to get really worried about our situation and the possibility of the situation deteriorating further. I envisioned a situation where one of us needed to be placed on a ventilator and we got to the hospital but there were no open slots. I was very worried. I’ve never really thought about mental health in the sense that it would affect me, but on this day, I learned that mental health issues can attack you in the most unexpected way. On day four, I woke up as usual with a terrible sore throat, as usual. My headaches had subsided since I was constantly on painkillers. On this particular day, there was something special, I opened my eyes and felt as if I had a piece of food, like a tablet or small piece of ugali or potato, stuck at the back of my throat. Swallowing anything is problematic, so I have to think carefully and summon all my strength before I can swallow whatever it is that is stuck at the back of my throat. I call on my ancestors and swallow. I feel it going down my throat and coming back up. I swallow again about two or three times but nothing. It goes down and comes back up. I panic a little bit. I can’t comfortably drink water but I have to power through the pain just to get that devilish piece to go either direction. It was either going down or coming back out. I take a huge sip and swallow as hard as I can, I feel it going down my throat and coming back up. I run to the mirror and do a quick analysis of my throat. I can only see the wounds from the sore throat but nothing else.
After doing another round of swallowing and going back to square one, I decided to consult doctor Google. What do you know, the first result, as is customary, describes exactly what I’m experiencing. The self-diagnosis led me to believe that I was experiencing a condition known as Globus pharyngis or simply Globus sensation for short. It’s basically a condition that comes about when you’re feeling excess stress or anxiety. It feels like there’s a tablet-sized lump in your throat that won’t go down. It doesn’t cause any pain but is awfully irritating. What’s worse, when you check on the throat, there’s nothing there. It’s essentially what I would describe as a sensation that’s created by your mind in response to the stress that you’re going through. Ironically, worrying makes the condition worsen and knowing that you have the condition, in turn, leads you to worry some more since there is no known cure. Coughing also increases the severity of the situation and you can’t stop coughing when you have the coronavirus. I was in a terrible position. I read the solutions and they say that eating some food will help ease the symptoms for a few hours. I rush downstairs and have my sister prepare for me some spaghetti that I eat like a thief. I finish eating and I’m good as new. With the exception of the sore throat and cough and general body aches and weakness. In spite of this working, I know that it will be back since I can’t stop coughing and I can’t stop worrying. At this point, I wish I could take around four or five shots just to calm my nerves down even for a bit.
I go take a nap and wake up a few hours later with the Globus sensation still terrorizing me. Now it feels like I’m about to choke on a small tablet but I’m not actually choking. The sore throat just makes things worse since I can’t really eat anyhow. I decide to wait for dinner before I start eating. At this time, I’m increasingly worried about the number of painkillers I’m consuming. I saw on one animated Netflix series, Bojack Horseman, the character is prescribed painkillers and ends up becoming addicted to them. I don’t want to be Bojack. So I ease up on the painkillers for the night.
There’s a lady who works at my mum’s daycare. About a week prior, she was suffering from something similar to what we were and she told us that she used a drug called Coldcap to help ease the symptoms. We request her to bring some for us since we can’t just go out. She brings some and I immediately start taking them. Within about two hours, my headache is almost completely gone, my cough has slowed down, my nose is open, body pains are gone. I only have the sore throat, fatigue and Globus sensation to deal with. It’s not a very good deal, but I’ll take it. In hindsight, I think the Globus sensation actually went away after I stopped worrying. Maybe when the other symptoms subsided, it caused me to have faith in the medication which, in turn, caused me to worry less and force my brain to stop making me feel like it was choking the life out of me. I didn’t realise it, but the feeling just went away naturally. It’s the most irritating thing I’ve ever felt in my life!
I kept taking the medication and slowly recovering. The cough was the last to leave. I didn’t really realize when I finally got well. It was one of those things that you go one step at a time and before you know it, you feel a little more like yourself with every step you take. To some people, the virus won’t really show a lot of symptoms. My mother wasn’t really demolished by it like we were. The irony is, she’s older and didn’t suffer a lot while we’re younger and took quite the beating.
I was stuck in the house for about ten days straight. Claustrophobia really started kicking in. I had a strong desire to go somewhere, anywhere, just to have a change in environment for once. On the eleventh day, I finally got to go out and see the world. I realized how much we take our freedom and our health for granted, I had a new appreciation for the feeling of being healthy and being able to move around. Now, every time I go into the world, I try with full commitment to always observe all the measures that will protect me and my loved ones against this disease. It might seem like the government is completely bungling the ways it’s handling the pandemic, but I can tell you for a fact, they’re on to something. This disease must be stopped. It’s a collective effort. In truth, I got lucky, I would not wish for anyone else to experience what I experienced just so we can understand the seriousness that needs to be assumed in the fight against this pandemic.