Corona Crisis: A Personal Narrative

via Dr. Samiera Mohamed

As a healthy seventy-year old doctor, I am a lucky COVID-19 survivor. Apart from IBS- which I suffered from whilst living in Iraq-, my medical history is clear of any maladies and chronic illnesses. I practice intermittent fasting and ensure that my level of nutrition is always high on vitamin B12 in order to repair damaged DNA. Furthermore, I am an avid yogini as well as a persistent physical and heat therapy benefiter. Despite living alone, I rarely succumb to the feeling of desolation as I am an enthusiastic and open-minded learner who enjoys being connected to the world in ways other than those which involve watching television or tuning in to the radio.

In December 2019, a young Indian man who was employed at my building and whom I oversaw as a project manager appeared to have contracted the virus and began experiencing severe cough accompanied by fever. Nevertheless, he refused to stop working. Needless to say, I was exposed to a heavy viral load for nearly a month as I had frequently delivered his tools to him as well as offered him rides to his destination. My healthy lifestyle slowly ebbed away as I found myself subjected to long sleepless nights, lack of proper nutritious meals and little-to-no exercise.

I began suffering from a hacking cough, runny nose and white sputum. But no sooner had I recovered from them than I developed persistent mild abdominal pain and diarrhea. The black tarry stool indicated that I became afflicted by bleeding from the gut. For five days, I abstained from consuming any solid foods in order to provide my body with the necessary time to heal itself. Eventually, my stool color returned to normal. Thinking that I was recuperated, I was proved wrong when the color of my urine changed into a hue of light green as a result of the large gall stone that had formed. Conjunctivitis followed shortly, causing me to resort to eye cleansing and palming. 

At that time, I was certain that these maladies had nothing to do with the newly discovered, highly contagious strain of coronavirus, as the symptoms that I had showcased were not found to be correlated with COVID-19 until much later on.

 I refused to call my general practitioner as I was well aware of the fact that we elderly were not a priority in the eyes of the British health care system. For some, having lived a long life meant that our lives no longer mattered as much as that of the youth. Countless ill elderly patients had visited hospitals in the hopes of finding the medical care they needed, only to be turned away disdainfully, which insinuated that, in such crises their lives are of little importance. Unfortunately, this is an issue that the global elderly community faces. Elsewhere, an old man suffering from life-threatening breathing problems was admitted to the hospital and put on a ventilator. Five minutes later, his daughter returned to discover that he had passed away after a nurse had disconnected him from the only machine that was keeping him alive in order to attach it to a young man. When confronted, the staff merely shrugged and remarked that they were ordered to prioritize the youth over the elderly.

A week afterwards, I woke up with a cold sweat, struggling to catch my breath. It was at this moment that the pit of dread that I had been harboring since the beginning of my illness turned into a dark, seemingly endless abyss. I knew with certainty that I had the coronavirus and that things would turn ugly if my symptoms persisted until morning and so, I decided that if my condition continued to deteriorate, I would hail a cab to Heathrow Airport in the morning and catch a flight to Germany. I would not seek any medical consultation here, having lost all faith in the health system of the United Kingdom. 

Thankfully, I woke up the next morning in a slightly better condition. I confronted the laborer and ordered him to leave the building and seek medical advice urgently.  Furthermore, I resolved to treat my ailments with the aid of organic and anti-inflammatory food. Discontinuing my consumption of sugars, carbohydrates, and dairy products, I turned to ginger, fresh and powdered turmeric with crushed black pepper, garlic, herbs, organic olive oil, bananas and organic apple cider vinegar. I also relied heavily on three different types of yogurt containing beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus reuters. Supplements like Magnesium citrate tablets and milk thistle provided me with vitamins and calcium as well as aided in body detoxification.

It took me nearly five months to recover from COVID-19. Every morning, I would break out in cold sweat, not knowing whether that day would be the one in which my health would deteriorate rapidly. Despite convalescing, my energy levels are still not what they used to be. At times, I would wake up overwhelmed with fatigue and lethargy, despite having had a quality sleep. 

Regardless of how frightening this experience was for me, I feel as if it is a wakeup call reminding me of how easy it is for one to loose the blessing of good health. We may not be young, yet our wellbeing matters. Senior citizens should be given the medical attention they require, if not for the sake of humanity, then for the sake of the society, as they may continue to spread the disease unknowingly, endangering even more lives. 

My love for life has heightened to extents I cannot fathom and as the saying goes, ‘Being in love with life is a key to eternal youth.’

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