That indiscriminate virus

Perhaps it’s a cathartic self-indulgence, but amongst this highlights reel I feel a niggling personal obligation to share the story of my run-in with Covid-19. 

What started with a mild head cold evolved into headaches, high fevers and decreasing oximeter readings. Home isolation is a mental beast where you realise you are your own under-qualified carer. 

On 30th June, we realised I was deteriorating, tight chested, covered in a weird rash and most alarmingly short of breath with SAT levels in the low 80s. I needed to go to hospital. On THE day the city announced they were reaching capacity. I waved goodbye to my wife and 2 boys from the back of an ambulance. A memory I’d like us all to erase.

I was fortunately assigned a bed at the Christian Barnard Memorial hospital. There I was told I had COVID pneumonia. The delta variant the likely cause. “You’re young, you’re strong, you’re a bit of an anomaly Mark”.

I was prodded and jabbed, x-rayed, had vile after vile of blood taken, given plenty of intravenous antibiotics, steroids and vitamin cocktails. And repeatedly injected with blood thinners into my stomach region…

Covid wards are humbling places. You meet people of all backgrounds at their most absolute vulnerable – gasping for air. You see and hear things that are tricky to forget. You stumble to the toilet attached to a tank of oxygen. You wake every few hours to have your SAT levels checked and to turn over again to relieve pressure on your lungs. You anxiously wait to see what the virus has in store for you next. 

But… you also get to witness the (somewhat mythical) heroic doctors, nurses, physios and hospital staff selflessly, fearlessly, tirelessly fighting this indiscriminate virus. Providing care and calm to an overwhelming amount of patients.

6 long days after being admitted I was told I’d made it through the danger zone and should continue my recovery at home. Hospitals breed superbugs that make for evil secondary infections.

I was nervous to leave my good acquaintance – the nasal cannulas. I was sad to say goodbye to my covid comrades. But I was very ready to get back to my family. Who’d of course had their own torrid experience. My wife caring for our 2 boys, operating off much uncertainty and plenty of quarantine anxiety. Miraculously both her and the boys seem to have avoided it.

I exited the hospital via the same emergency doors I’d arrived through. Sitting in a wheelchair on the side of the road, 6kgs lighter, breathing in the cold, beautiful winter air. Kind of a surreal moment.

I’ve now been home for 10 days and am adjusting to being a rather frail 39 year old. My lungs are re-building, but inflamed. Recovery is cautiously slow and not short of horror stories people feel they should share with you. I’ll have another x-ray in August to discover the extent of my battle scars and hear when I can get back to a more normal, active routine.

For now I’m enjoying my gentle walks, treasuring my family, and so thankful that I’m an anomaly that can tell my own tale and more purposely shape it’s future.

Stay safe. Get vaccinated.

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