‘COVID, yuh nah overpower mi, yuh nah kill mi!’

MY experience with COVID-19, which I call COVID-21 (after all I had it in the year 2021) and COVID-teous-19. This disease is real, it is no joke. Feeling is believing, not that I ever doubted or disbelieved.

On Friday, March 19, I started having strep throat. I took a Panadol and went to bed. The next day, Saturday, I woke up with a horrible headache and fever. I was really burning up. I could not lift my head, neither could I hold it down. It was pounding.

I tried to break the fever while monitoring the temperature but it kept going up throughout the day. I tried to reach out to the health ministry to get an appointment to do the COVID test. I was a contact of a positive case at work so the minute I started feeling sick I knew I had to get tested. I was worried as I live alone and anything could happen but [for] God.

On Sunday the fever broke but the headache would not leave me, and by this I had totally lost the ability to speak clearly (according to my cousin, I sounded funny). I lost my voice due to the strep throat and thick mucus sitting in my throat. It felt like a worm walking up and down in there, tickling my throat, but when I coughed nothing came.

By Sunday afternoon I had finally gotten to the ministry to set the appointment for testing. Based on my location (walking distance as I was scared to take the bus to elsewhere), I took the appointment for March 23.

Monday came, the fever was gone but I was beginning to feel weak, tired, fatigued, joint and muscle pains, just wanted to sleep and not eat, and here comes the terrible coughing which would last for the next five weeks. I coughed the entire journey. I got to the clinic, got tested, and was given a stay-at-home quarantine order to remain there until my result was ready. Days passed with no results. I started to feel so depressed being at home and unable to go anywhere and not knowing the result of my test. On day 8, I had to call for it.

It was then that the health department told me I had tested positive. They counselled me about the depressed feelings and promised they would, in the coming days, check on me daily via phone.

For the next fortnight I would spend my days drinking turmeric and ginger tea, avoiding everything cold and sticking to water, coconut water and juice — only at room temperature. I would drink “tonne loads” of water and juice during the day but once I went to sleep and woke up the bed would be wet (from sweat), and my insides would feel as though I never drank any water at all. Inside felt completely dried out. I lost my sense of smell; I could not smell the ginger, even when it was made strong. I didn’t even sneeze when it was boiling. I coughed until my chest felt like it was tearing out. I could not go anywhere so I did not get any medication. I only stuck to Panadol.

My 14 days was up but I was still coughing so I wasn’t released from quarantine. A week later I was given the release order — that’s 25 days in home quarantine — however, I was still coughing. I went back to work, but the workplace has a company nurse whom I had to see upon return from quarantine.

I was sent back home and asked not to return until I could see the doctor, who had to treat me for another week for the residual effects of COVID-19. I was treated with antibiotics, cough medication, vitamins and stomach medications, as I had started having stomach issues due to the fact I wasn’t eating properly and mostly drinking.

The treatment was going well but I had to be asymptomatic for three consecutive days before I could finally return to work. After five weeks at home I returned to work but the coughing that had subsided would act up once I was under the A/C, and that would continue for another eight weeks.

One day I tried drinking ice water and I coughed non-stop. I tried again the following day and the same thing happened. I now realised that I could no longer drink anything cold as it was triggering the coughing.

My life would change forever because this would mean I could no longer eat my ice cream…Naaah man. Gradually, I improved while sticking to drinks at room temperature and drinking mostly teas; I no longer have that COVID cough. I can now eat cheese and drink milk again. Now, three months later, I still feel some effects including terrible lower back pains (lasting 15 days in May), joint aches every now and then — especially if I get too cold — but I give God thanks as it could have been worse. Millions of people died but I survived the dreadful ordeal. I have since withdrawn from being real close to people outside of my comfort zone.

How I got through: My one in a million sister in Canada, my dearest and best friend whom I had to give the COVID update each day (you know yourself), and my sweet niece. Even though they are thousands of miles away they were very supportive. It felt as if they were right here aiding my care.

My sister and my niece ordered groceries online and had it delivered to me. My cousin and my childhood friends back in my hometown parish all were on the phone checking on me through the entire ordeal. What can I say about my co-workers and my boss? They were also in touch.

I downloaded positive songs and kept singing along, affirming myself that I would get through it. I am grateful I made it out alive because so many didn’t. When I tell people I had COVID they loudly exclaim:”A lie yuh a tell!”

I often reply with the affirmative: “You can’t tell by looking on someone that they have/had it; COVID affects you on the inside. You will be dying inside and no one knows it but you.” I think support is important to help get people through this but many don’t have that support system and will slip into depression. Many gave up as they didn’t have the will to fight on…but you have to keep fighting and tell it like I did:

“COVID, yuh nah kill mi! Mi survive worse dan yuh. Asthma never kill me as a baby, COVID, so try all yuh want, yuh nah overpower mi!”

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