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Through my eyes: A memorable experience with COVID-19

By Bareera Hamidi

I am on day 21 of observing, managing and monitoring five immediate family members who turned COVID positive since May 17th 2020. Four of those tested negative on day 12 and 24 while one tested positive again on day 26 but with a viral load between 31 & 35. 

To summarise my lengthy text in a few words, “This virus is all about the strength/weakness of your nerves – because your willpower builds or diminishes your immunity.” – It’s just as simple as that and paradoxically, as complicated as it can get.

First thing’s first: You panic, become hopeless, agitated or impatient, and it will creep up to you like a cobweb just like in that spider man movie. If you stay put and let it take its course like, it was a seasonal flu or unexplained diarrhoea, then it will go away just as well. But they are easier said than done when you are in quarantine. 

I have seen asymptomatic become symptomatic and symptomatic going clean. Age does not seem to be discriminating. Both 73 and 40 tested positive twice, had symptoms coming and going. 

The cases around me were aged 4, 30, 35, 40 and 73. Those we believed were low on immunity turned out better on positivity and those we thought were good enough on immunity turned out to be of weak nerves. So as said earlier, symptomatic with strong faith, hope, prayer and willpower moved towards recovery, and those in a state of panic took longer. The COVID journey is still on for some on day 26 of testing while I have also tested positive and, (I have covered that in another article and will be updating that too), am on day 12 0f testing with virus load at 23.8. 

We continue our prayers for everybody’s recovery. 

Now to some action stuff – updated

Whether or not COVID positive, the following regime is a must to maintain. The multiple doctors and pathologists that we were consulting from all over the world seemed to recommend or agree on most of the following:

  1. Take steam – at least twice a day minimum or as many times beyond twice
  2. 1 Anti-allergy tablet a day – whichever suits you
  3. Kalongee (black seed) – a pinch (By the way, it contains Hydroxychloroquine)
  4. One tablet Vitamin C 1000
  5. Vitamin D
  6. Zinc 
  7. A 30-minute walk every day

I have added to this list:

  1. 10-minute exposure to the sun everyday between 10:00 am – 11:00 am (ideal time)
  2. A glass of fresh orange juice every day
  3. A glass of coconut water every day
  4. Three dates, a fig, some olives, almonds, a walnut drizzled with a tablespoon of PURE honey
  5. A bowl of sabud dana (sagoo) with or without milk
  6. Fish 

And if you are symptomatic COVID positive then add to the above paracetamol and any other medicine that your doctor may recommend. Plus do measure oxygen saturation thrice a day. 

A CBC (Complete Blood Count) test can be done every five days depending on your symptoms and a chest X-ray on the 7th-day post-testing positive and with mild symptoms will help you track your chest condition. Again this is for people who want to stay ahead of their anxiety. Or of course, if the doctor recommends. For people with a heart condition or diabetes or blood pressure or all should also get tests done for blood thickness (D-Dimer), for inflammation (CRP) and Serum Ferritin and LDH. Getting tests done before reaching out to the doctor saves you the hospital exposure. By the way, AKUH and some other labs are also doing all tests at home. For the X-ray of course, then you have to go to the hospital. 

No smoking – cigarette or vape or whatever. Don’t. 

Doctors follow the patient’s symptoms. The lab results are indicative of where the symptoms are headed. So if your doctor is not worried, then you needn’t panic either. Even if you read certain things below or above usual ranges. But do make sure that the doctor has seen and read all readings in your test.

Next, if you want to enter an endless conflict, confusion, inconclusive arguments and interpretations, then get your antibody test done. Otherwise, avoid it.

Ideally, if you want to keep going through this virus amicably then get your COVID test repeated after 21 days to find out that you are now negative hopefully. Once you have a negative report in your hand, Case closed. Stress is thrown out of the window but continues to practice step 1-8 laid down above as much as possible (if your body has sufficient vitamin C, D and zinc then you should not overdose. Also consult your doctor or get yourself tested for these before deciding if and for how long to take these) plus, of course, the physical protocols of moving around in public, i.e. masks, gloves, sanitizers etc. must continue.

Regarding false negative and false positive: COVID has six mutations, PCR or testing kits, both can’t determine which mutation level are you at in your COVID journey. But if you test positive, request your lab to share your virus load. A load result between 0 and 40 can be obtained, and this is called the Ct value or threshold cycle. If the Ct value is low (say 15), the levels of virus in the sample is said to be very high. If a sample has Ct of over 35, the viral load is low. The level of Ct correlates to disease severity. My virus load was 23.8, and it was categorized as small and one of my family members positive on day 21 with a viral load between 31 – 35 and the doctor advised against re-testing, saying you are clear. I was also told that at a viral load of 37, you are declared negative. 

Going back to false negative and false positive and the virus mutations – you might get different results if tested twice simultaneously. So, let’s say if you have checked for COVID 10 times simultaneously and 9 out of 10 show you negative and one shows you positive, you have to consider yourself as positive (because one of the swabs has captured some particle of the mutated virus – big or small).

It will be a while before we can get answers and cure to COVID-19. Right now it’s making a mockery of our race right, left and centre. Those who have it fear what it might do to them; those who don’t worry it will come to them; and some fortunate ones prefer to stay oblivious. 

What I write and share is to help you ask all the questions that you need to ask yourself and your medical help. Sharing will help.

With symptoms becoming ever diverse, and no more just fever and cough and flue like, it’s always better to get tested if you experience an unusual ailment behaviour. At the same time, avoid becoming paranoid. If you are positive and asymptomatic, then WHO says its ok not be quarantined, but again the mask and the gloves are essential to protect others around you.

Good sleep heals. Healthy activity continuation, wherever possible, helps. 

Remember: “This virus is all about the strength/weakness of your nerves – because your willpower builds or diminishes your immunity.” 

To keep your loved ones, who are suffering or fearing COVID-19, from panic, please stay connected. Video calls, audio calls every day, multiple times a day and light and diverting conversations; plan a trip, a party or business with them – depending on their interests – discuss funny memories or movies – so that when the conversation ends, they continue to think about it rather than go in depression. Build them a “to-do” list and ask them if they have had all their medicines, food, done exercise etc. if they have not then wait on the call and ask them to do it while you wait. So that they know you care. Send/make them food of their choice and make it diverse. Good food, new food is generally a happy distraction. 

I am a Believer and my faith has strengthened now more than ever because what could be so insignificant in numbers and percentages and on a microscope that it’s even difficult to detect – but it has baffled the greatest of minds so far and has gotten the WHOLE world agitated at the same time. 

Perhaps, like epidemics before, we will find our cures and answer, but for now, it’s quite a spinner Allah has sent us. And with it, has come in impatience, frustration, aggression and all that’s negative – in abundance. Yes, there is empathy, sympathy and charity also unravelling – but will these be enough till the virus lasts? I hope so; I pray for it. 

-The article is the writer’s narration of her experience and preventive measures that she took.  Under no circumstances should this be taken as a doctor’s advice or medically proven article.

June 30, 2020

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