4 surprising lessons from an average Coronavirus survivor

It’s been around 18 months since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. As it stands today, there have been over 175 million confirmed cases worldwide with more than 3.8 million deaths. Sadly, I must count myself and my family amongst the 175 million who were tested positive. Thankfully though, we survived our quarantine period with only mild symptoms. 

I’m not going to go into the details or arguments of vaccinations and masks, there are plenty of qualified people to advise you on such things. There are also plenty articles explaining how to avoid contracting the virus. I’m not a Doctor, a politician or a health worker. I’m a simple mother, employee, wife, friend. So I am just going to share with you the 4 surprising lessons I’ve learned from my pretty average experience with contracting Coronavirus. 

Lesson 1: It’s hiding in plain sight

You would think it would be pretty simple if you test positive to look back on the last few days and say, “Ah yes, I was around Joe on Friday and he was coughing”, or “Yes, I had coffee with Jane on Saturday and she tested positive”. But it’s not. Here in South Africa, masks are compulsory and our hands are raw from sanitizing. We avoid public places for the most part, we don’t hug our elderly parents anymore and birthday parties and family get togethers are a thing of the past. Well, that’s my story at least… 

So what went wrong? I was not in contact with any positive cases that I’m aware of. I don’t know of anyone who was sick within 2 meters of me. I can’t point to anyone or anything and say, “That’s where I caught it’. But I did catch the virus. From somewhere…someone…somehow. 

Lesson 2: The guilt will keep you up at night

Thankfully for the majority of Covid patients, it won’t be the symptoms that keep you up at night. If you’re lucky, like I was, you may feel a little under the weather, but it will be mild. What will keep you up at night is the guilt. There were many nights I lay awake, going over the past few days and faces of people I had been in contact with. Worrying about my parents. Wondering if my friends had been on contact with me. Thinking about all the diabetic, cancer, heart-condition friends of friends and family. Berating myself because I touched my mask or didn’t wash my hands with the 5 point technique. 

The reality is that you have very little control over this. Life happens, even when you try to follow all the rules.  

Lesson 3: Texture and temperature counts

I’ve read plenty articles on the loss of smell and taste as a symptom of Covid. This is in fact, the very thing that sent me off to the lab for a test. Nothing can quite prepare you for it though. When your nose is stuffy, it often messes with your sense of smell or taste. You have to breathe in a little deeper and opt for stronger tastes when you have a normal cold, but there is still some semblance of your senses, albeit it dulled. 

This is different. Totally. You will stand in front of a pan of sizzling bacon, breathe in and smell…only hot air. Your kids will blind-fold you and give you pickle juice to drink (true story) and all you will taste is…water. 

It’s difficult to WANT to eat, when everything tastes like cardboard. You have to tap into your food memory bank and IMAGINE what the food tastes like. Playing with textures and temperatures does provide some kind of relief. It triggers the memory and makes the meal more palatable but still…I miss being able to taste chocolate!

Lesson 4: You’ve gotta have friends

In today’s day and age, most things can be done online. Need groceries? Woolworths or Checker 60/60 will deliver. Need medicine? Upload a photo of your script to the Dischem app and they will deliver too. You can even have a virtual Doctors appointment! 

But when you’re cooped up in your house for 10 days, stocked up on tissues and vitamins, it soon becomes very apparent that there are some things an App just can’t do for you. An App can’t call you everyday to find out how you are and ask you what you need. An App can’t give you the reassurance you need when you lie awake all night feeling guilty. An App can’t say “I love you” and “I care about you” and “I’m praying for you”. And that is what’s going to keep you sane and positive on the road to recovery. 

To those of you who have managed to evade the virus, I wish you luck. It’s still an ordeal, no matter how mild your symptoms. To those who have lost loved ones to the virus, I send love.  

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