“This virus was probably the worst thing I’ve ever experienced,” says 35-year-old Dr Aarthi Muthayan, who’s an independent practitioner working for the Eastern Cape Department of Health…
Dr Muthayan shared her experience with coronavirus in a detailed Facebook post in order to help raise awareness about the symptoms, and to encourage South Africans to be rigorous about their hygiene habits and practise safety measures at all times.
She also wants to help break the stigma associated with the virus. “Talk about it!” she says. “This virus can infect anyone. It doesn’t discriminate.”
The stigma prevents people from seeking help early, even if they display many of the symptoms. This may result in them infecting many of their contacts unnecessarily. Once they have recovered, they may be ostracised from their communities.
“The more we talk about it, the more we can destigmatise it,” says Dr Muthayan. “People shouldn’t feel ashamed about it at all.”
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“It’s not like normal flu at all,” says Dr Muthayan who first noticed some symptoms around two weeks ago. She warned that the symptoms can escalate quickly: an annoying “furball” feeling in the throat ended up with her fighting to breathe just a couple of days later.
“I had the most severe body aches I’ve ever experienced, specifically in my lower back, but I also experienced pain all over my body which was almost unbearable,” says Dr Muthayan who describes herself as having a high pain threshold.
Loss of taste and smell and lack of energy
The doctor says she lost her sense of taste and smell fairly early on in the battle against Covid-19. “It was bizarre to have no congestion, but no sense of smell,” she says. The cough is also dry, with no phlegm at all.
“You get short of breath while lying down, and it’s even worse when you move around or talk. You experience extreme fatigue.”
In order to monitor her symptoms, and use the information to help in diagnosing or advising patients in the future, Dr Muthayan says she kept a record of her symptoms from day one to her sickest:
Furball feeling in throat, feeling “under the weather”. Throat stays dry no matter how much water I drink. Retrospectively I didn’t even feel sick, so didn’t immediately jump to Covid-19 conclusion.
Body aches and pains and getting chills.
In the office I asked everyone if I could put on the heater despite it being sunny outside and I was freezing right down to my bones.
Decided something was wrong and went into self-isolation.
Extreme fatigue set in, body pains continue and dry cough begins.
Loss of taste and smell! Dry cough and body pains continue, fever of 38,1 degrees Celsius.
The day I tested positive for COVID19.
Dry cough and body pains get worse.
Getting short of breath when I walk around house
Woke up at 09:45 pm in so much pain and nausea, please help me God.
My back my whole body is in so much pain.
I stopped recording symptoms here. It was the time I was in the worst shape. I was short of breath even while at rest, and even thought I was going to die.
Here’s what I remember: Fatigue wasn’t letting up. Dry irritating cough, no appetite. Horrible pain, my lower back felt like my spine was splitting when I’d stand up, fever. I also had nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea intermittently.
After Day 10, Dr Muthayan says her symptoms began to improve and on Day 14 she was finally feeling more ‘normal’.
What treatments did she use?
During self-isolation, Dr Muthayan says she took a number of painkillers to help deal with the body aches. She says topical Deep Heat also helped relieve some of the pain, as well as using an electric blanket to apply heat to her whole body.
She treated her dry cough with Mucospect, and says that “good old Vicks” helped with the shortness of breath and dry cough. She also used a long-acting Beta 2 stimulant and steroid inhaler/asthma pump twice daily, 12 hours apart.
She recommends vitamins and supplements to help keep boost the body’s immune system. “I used vitamin C, D, magnesium, and zinc. I believe it helped me a lot.
For the rest of her symptoms, she turned to prayer and rest.
“Don’t take this pandemic lightly!” says Dr Muthayan. “Wear a mask, wash your hands, eat a healthy diet, and protect the most vulnerable in your community by adhering to the rules.”
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