CAPE TOWN- A 32-year-old Capetonian who was among the first 200 confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa, said that throughout her month-long experience in overcoming the virus, coping with anxiety was the hardest part.
Kerry O'Connor, who manages a team of creatives for an online education company said that she contracted the virus before the national lockdown had started.
“The hardest part was the anxiety I experienced, because it's a new virus and scientists are still learning about it. Everyone experiences it differently and it is impossible to know how it will affect you and sometimes I couldn't help but imagine the worst,” she said.
O'Connor said that while she does not have any comorbidities and is “averagely healthy”, she was concerned that she could have infected her parents who are high-risk, or colleagues at work.
The first symptoms O'Connor noticed within the first week of contracting the virus included indigestion, a fever, fatigue, body pains and a dry cough, which was sporadic and unlike a cough one might have with allergies, she said.
“Those first few days were pretty rough, I slept constantly and it was just like having the flu except that my sinuses were permanently on fire and I had no congestion,” she said.
“The burning that I had felt in my sinuses had spread to my lungs. It felt like I had a weight on my chest. I was constantly aware of and could feel my lungs. My breathing was shallower than usual.”
One of the strangest symptoms O'Connor experienced was that she couldn’t smell or taste anything. “It was entirely bizarre and one of the weirdest experiences of my life so far. It was awful. I hardly ate for a few days, I had no appetite and food brought none of the usual comfort or pleasure,” she said.
O'Connor was tested at a hospital around a week after first feeling sick and received her results the next day. “I would have gone to get tested sooner, but at that stage to get a test you had to have travelled overseas or have known exposure to the virus,” she said.
Getting tested was both scary and expensive she said, as her doctor asked if she was certain she wanted to get tested because medical aid at that stage wouldn't cover a negative result. “They didn't explain that there would be two payments to me beforehand, one to the lab and one to the hospital.”
After a month of self-isolation, rest, hydration and dosing up on corenza-c, med lemon and panado, O'Connor recovered from Covid-19. During that time she said she experienced severe symptoms for two of the weeks and the rest of the time she slowly recovered.
“Things are really scary right now, and it's okay to feel anxious. Everyone experiences this in a unique way, and I was told by doctors my symptoms were on the severe side. It helped me to think about the things and people I am grateful for. If nothing else, an experience like this puts into perspective the things that really matter, and is a reminder to really live,” she said.
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