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COVID-19 STORY – SERVING SOLDIER AGED 43

I struggled with COVID-19 for a full 54 days, and at times the thoughts were frightening. I constantly worry over whether I will be a statistic or recover and return to full fitness.

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Day One was just a regular day working from home. I suddenly felt faint, lacked energy, and developed a pounding headache. I thought maybe my blood sugar was low as I had skipped breakfast. Attempting to get up from my seated position proved difficult; my entire body collapsed. I had no energy, my muscles ached, and my body felt like I had sustained severe injuries from a car accident. I was disabled at this point for a few minutes as I dragged myself to the kitchen to consume some Orange juice and any other sugary snacks to normalise my levels. Nothing helped. I lay on the sofa for about an hour to shake this terrible headache and weakness off; however, the muscle aches and headache got worse. It was only at this point I thought maybe I could have contracted COVID, but my symptoms were different to the NHS and WHO guidelines. I decided to take some regular pain relief with the hope that I would feel better the next day. I was so wrong; I had no sleep, and I felt detached from my body. The headache at this point was persistent, unlike a migraine which can come and go in waves.

The following day, I booked a COVID test which was confirmed as positive the next day. More worrying, I had no idea how I may have caught the virus as I could not have been more careful. The next few days of isolation was the most challenging as the pain intensified while having daily consultation with NHS 111. My breathing was fine all along which was a bonus, but my body crumbled as the hours past. At one point, The NHS consultant advised me to attend the hospital, but I was unfit to drive and had no one available. I, therefore, asked for an ambulance, but the request was met with hesitation. I was contacted a few minutes later by another Consultant who conducted a further telephone assessment and told me to stay at home as it was safer but advised to call back NHS 111 the next day if my symptoms did not improve. Going to bed that night was probably the scariest day of my life as I felt anxious and worried that it could be my last night.  How could this be happening as I was fit and healthy with no known risk factors? The thought of leaving my family behind was more than I could bear. These feelings continued and got worse as the days went on.

Day Twelve, and it seems as if I was in this for the long haul. I lost my sense of smell and taste to add to the muscle pain and excruciating persistent headache. On day Sixteen, I lost all feeling down the entire left side of my body, including my face; was it a stroke? I had no idea. I contacted my doctor as things were not improving, and they also thought I might be having a series of mini strokes. Oh, dear! The consultant was so worried and scheduled an urgent check-up and scan at the hospital. Result inconclusive! I was now in panic mode as the left side of my body continued to go limped, the headache got worse, and the muscle aches and pains made movement very difficult.

Time for natural remedies, I tried everything, but nothing worked. Another trip to the doctor as my head was about to explore, with the left side of my body still in limp mode. The doctor prescribed some medication for three days due to its addictive properties. Oh my, these were like magic pills; the headache started to show signs of improvement after the second day. However, once I stopped taking the medication, the persistent headache returned. I asked for a repeat prescription and felt like a drug addict over the next few day/weeks.

Day Twenty-Four I regained my sense of smell and taste, but the headache fluctuated in response to the frequency in which I took the medication, and the numbness along the left side of my body continued for a few more weeks. I could move around again, but exercising was impossible as I felt I had no lung capacity even to sustain a 5-minute brisk walk.

Day Fifty-Four felt much better as I give thanks to God for guiding me through what I will consider the most frightening and challenging path of my life thus far. I have completed several hostile operational tours but never felt a moment like what Covid-19 presented.

Day Fifty-Five, the road to recovery, a negative test for Covid-19, but my body was still weak, frequent mini headaches, unable to exercise, having weird smells sometimes and just not entirely over the line yet.

There is an assumption that being young and healthy makes you less likely to suffer from Covid-19; some described it as a mild Flu. Not in my case; Flu would have been much more manageable. My experience shows that the virus can affect individuals differently. Although I was careful and followed the guidance and rules, I almost lost the fight, leaving my family behind.

I now cannot wait to be vaccinated to protect myself but, most importantly, protect others so they will not have to potentially suffer like I did and worry about the impact to their long-term health.

Stay safe.

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