Dr Carmen James is recovering after contracting Covid-19 recently Picture: Facebook
Dr Carmen James is recovering after contracting Covid-19 recently Picture: Facebook

WATCH: Durban doctor shares her Covid-19 journey, from diagnosis to recovery

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Apr 14, 2020

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Durban - Doctor Carmen James is on the mend after being diagnosed with Covid-19 just over a week ago. James took to social media to share her story from waking up with body pains to a heightened sense of sensitivity and severe sore throat. 

James said during March she began working at government clinics and had come into contact with two patients who tested positive for Covid-19. 

"I became aware of their results and decided to self-isolate as a precaution. I started to develop symptoms and started to get worse. By last week, I realised I needed to get tested," she said. 

James said she notified her bosses and they sent a team out to test her at home. 

She said the team arrived and she was tested. 

"It was very uncomfortable and that is putting it lightly," she said. 

The test swabs were taken from her throat and her nose and she continued to remain in isolation. 

"I did not feel good. I also lost my appetite and my sense of taste was completely warped. I didn't have a cough and there was no high fever or shortness of breath. I did have a severe headache but it went away," she said. 

James for the first few days, said she felt dreadful and was extremely tired. She said a walk from her bed to the couch felt like hard work. She continued with self isolation and started recovering. 

In an interview, James said she was extremely grateful that her case was mild and was on the mend. 

"I feel great. I do not have any symptoms, my energy level has picked up, my appetite is returning and I feel ready to get back to work, as soon as I've been given the all clear."

James said overall, she was coping well.

"I have also had the support of many people for which I am truly grateful. I am very blessed and fortunate, and acutely aware that there are many who are battling this disease under very stressful conditions. My thoughts and prayers are with them," she said. 

"When I realised that I was exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms, I thought, well, I definitely need to get tested ASAP. I knew that what I was feeling was not a "normal cold or sore throat". It's hard to explain exactly, but I just felt like this was different and I knew for sure that I had been in contact with positive cases, so it was a priority to get diagnosed," James said. 

She said she felt like she was given a chance to experience the virus from both sides. 

"As a healthcare worker and as a patient. I thought that was an incredible position to be in because I had been researching about Covid-19 from early on and now I was right up close with it. To me, this was a unique opportunity to educate, which is my passion," she said. 

James said she created a video to share her results and journey as a way to create awareness, especially around the issue of stigma.

"I think that for many this disease is far removed and 'out there' so I wanted to put a face to it."

She said one of the myths that was concerning was of young people thinking they were invincible. 

"The reality is that in all likelihood, young people will have mild disease, however, they will be the ones to spread it to the more vulnerable among us, including the ill and the elderly."

"Another concern I have is the stories circulating about 5G. I am amazed how people will choose to spread fear mongering conspiracy theories from people with little or no formal science-based education over the copious scientific research from some of the greatest scientific minds in the world."

She said as a society, the response to Covid-19 has been understandably diverse. 

"There are some on one extreme of the spectrum in absolute panic and frenzy, others in oblivion and disbelief and everything in between. We were not mentally prepared for this and the impact of the various stressors that Covid-19 is presenting to us will be far-reaching. These are unprecedented times and I think that our response has been representative of our different realities in this country and in the world. I am, however, proud to be South African and I applaud the leadership of this country for the bold steps that they continue to take in the best interests of us all," she said. 

James said in order to educate people on Covid-19, there needed to be more conversation around the topic.

"As annoying as it may get at times, feeling like all we talk about these days is Covid-19, the reality is, we are living through a pandemic. The more we talk and share our stories, the more content we create and share, the more we engage with each other and ensure that everyone including children understand what is happening, the better. We are still in for a long ride with Covid-19, the more we know, the better prepared we will be," she said. 

James said those who suspect they may have Covid-19, need to contact a healthcare provider for the next step. 

"Please avoid interaction with people, especially avoid going to a clinic or doctor's consultation room without notifying them beforehand, unless it is an emergency. Alternatively, call the NICD hotline on 0800029999."

"There are field workers and mobile labs now, so getting a test, should you need one, will be easier going forward. For those already diagnosed with Covid-19 infection, I would advise to rest, stay hydrated, take your supplements including vitamin C, D and Zinc and keep your distance from others," she said. 

The Mercury

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