Death’s Door - Me And The Virus
By McDonald, T. | Date 24th of March 2020
At the start of 2020 I was really ill with possibly the coronavirus COVID-19 in the UK. I don’t know how I got it or who I got it from, but I did hear people saying why they think it happened. One theory is that it jumped from animal to human in a Chinese wet market, a place where wild animals are slaughtered for food and spread from person to person via close contact. Although the wet market theory is the most popular, some people are saying the virus is from God and that it is going to draw us altogether. Whatever you believe, this is what it was like.
The symptoms came in two phases.
- Nasty dry cough that progressed to a phlegmy cough after about 11-12 days.
- Nasty dry cough that had been persistent for 9-11 days before it progressed to a phlegmy cough where the cough was green.
- Headache that progressed to migraines and was persistent for 9-10 days.
- Shortness of breath for 7- 8 days during the middle of the illness.
- Loss of appetite for 11-12 days.
- Aching body and chest pains.
- Partial loss of sight.
- Partial loss of control of limbs.
Just before Christmas I fell ill, but this was mild and only lasted a few days, which left me feeling lucky that it was over so quickly. About 2-3 weeks later the cough, which I recognised as the same as before, came back, but this time I felt worse and worse very quickly and soon had to spend most of my time in bed. By this time, I was preoccupied with trying to stop the coughing that was now non-stop. My next priority was to stop the migraines, which for six days seemed unbearable. The coughing was so bad that I could taste blood in my mouth and would often turn into a coughing fit where it seemed out of control; subsequently, this made the migraines seem worse. Moreover, as I am asthmatic, the constant coughing up phlegm made it harder to use my medication although I gave it a jolly good try. I was very ill, despite this, I remained hopeful. The spray would only ease the coughing for a bit and the Lemsip only eased the migraines, but it was just enough for me to sleep, hallelujah!
Every day was the same: try to stop the coughing coupled with making Lemsip. Just as I got this routine down to an art, things became worse. As the illness progressed, even though it looked pretty cold outside, I started to feel burning hot and opened all the windows in a frantic attempt to cool down. In addition, I turned the heating off. At some point I managed to fall asleep, but it was an uneasy restless sleep where I dreamt a demon was in the house but couldn’t get near me. The demon was, however, taking up space and this seemed to concern me making me feel incredibly uneasy. When I woke up, I noticed my bed was completely soaked in sweat, but I felt helpless to do anything about it, so I closed my eyes and fell back to sleep. This time, when I woke up, I felt cold and so I closed the windows and went back to sleep. I was starting to find it difficult to breathe and rang the doctor, but was told to stay at home, well I think this happened since everything was now feeling surreal and I had been delirious. Each day seemed to get worse and I began to pray for mercy.
Facing the end. One day I remember waking up and found it a struggle to see out of my right eye and, equally worrying, the whole right side of my body became clumsy and difficult to use. As a result, getting around was now an challenge. On top of this, it was not easy to make Lemsip or even hold a cup; I dropped more than one cup throughout the experience. At this point I was so week that I couldn’t even use the phone to call the doctor for help: I was in trouble and knew it. My immune system was struggling to cope, and I had not eaten a thing for over six days. As my immune system kicked into overdrive, my lungs began to fill up with fluids and cellular debris from the battle. Consequently, breathing was even more difficult as I lay there completely helpless with my Ventolin in my hand that offered no real relief. Images of loved ones passed by me as I struggled for breath in a short gulping like manner with the rattling and crackling of my chest the only sound. Their images where so real that I reached out to them for help only to see them fade out of sight. As I raised my Ventolin to my mouth, I realised my fingers had turned blue and I knew this to be cyanosis; my oxygen levels where dangerously low from the shortness of breath. This went on for days, no food, soreness in the chest, my mind playing tricks on me and only leaving my bed to cough up phlegm as my body attempted to clear the lungs. How long could I last? I knew I needed oxygen, but I was too weak to get help. This is when I noticed the phlegm I was still coughing up had turned bright green, oh no pneumonia: I thought. It was nearly eleven days from the onset of the second phase. I was facing the end and I prayed death would come quickly and peacefully. Despite this, the next day I started to feel hungry although I was, unfortunately, still too weak to get up and eat. Nonetheless, this gave me hope. Something had changed, my immune system had turned the tide; it had found a way to defeat the virus! It was the end for the virus in this sudden and dramatic turnaround. Now it was the turn of this microscopic invader to take a beating and face the onslaught of my now confident immune response. Obviously, my immune system had found a weapon the virus was helpless to defend itself against, meaning my cells no longer could be used as the virus’s production line to make copies of itself. My immune system had won!
An uneasy recovery. It was another week, however, before I could eat solid food not to mention leave the house. The first food I had was a cuppa soup. This became a daily meal and all that I could manage. Before I knew it, I was able to have a bread roll that I had defrosted the day before in anticipation with the soup. I was still weak from the virus and not eating. When I did leave the house and go to town people still said to me, ‘Are you all right? You look ill!’ It is important to remember, this was now over a week since I had started to improve. As the weeks went by I became stronger again until I returned to normal and was eating regular food again although I still experienced pain in the chest and down one side of the body mainly in my right arm. Nevertheless, I had survived. Surprisingly, I was different in some way and had an overwhelming desire to clear the house of anything I didn’t really need. When I explained to people where I had been and what had happened, most people where supportive, but it didn't stop some women, at separate times, saying: 'Was it man flu?' Outraged upon hearing this, I immediately felt distanced from each one of them. How dare they judge me; I had been through hell.