I can be blasé about it now. I can laugh it off and shrug and move on.
But to be honest, it was probably one of the most terrifying times of my life.
I got the virus in March 2020, shortly before the UK went into lockdown. It started with an innocuous cough one evening, and by the next day it was full blown. I was burning up, my body hurt, I didn’t want to eat anything, and most of all…I couldn’t breathe.
That’s the part that was scariest. I have asthma and immune system issues, and at that point in March all we were hearing about was the sky rocketing death rates and about those who were most vulnerable being the most likely to die.
As the week went on, breathing became harder. I could barely walk from exhaustion, and everything tasted bizarre–the only thing I wanted to eat was cereal. Even coffee, the elixir that has gotten me through life, tasted like dirty dishwater.
I began to wheeze. I’d cough until tears ran down my face and I was on my knees. My wife lay awake night after night, listening to me struggle to breathe, touching me and helping me relax when my breathing stuttered, gurgled…stopped, then started again.
My wife stayed awake to make sure I didn’t die in the night.
I didn’t want to go into the hospital. Maybe I should have, I don’t know. But we were hearing about the people who went in who were dying all alone, and I couldn’t bear the thought of dying without my wife at my side. Selfish, probably, but true nonetheless.
And then it began to lift, and I over-did. It sent me back down for another, longer, run. I began to have more trouble breathing, although the aches and exhaustion began to lessen. But now it felt like someone was kneeling on my chest, keeping me from taking a proper breath. Sharp, stabbing pains ran through my chest near my heart. I was breathless and coughing.
And scared. It had been nearly two months and I wasn’t getting any better.
An appointment with the doctor confirmed post-Covid pneumonia, not a rare occurence when you have lung problems anyway. Antibiotics were prescribed along with a stronger inhaler, and by the end of week eight, I was finally truly on the mend. My wife, throughout it all, was truly a miracle. She made me laugh, took care of me, kept me from getting down, and held me when I cried. I can’t fathom how I would have made it through without her.
I wasn’t going to write about this; I’m a very private person and didn’t tell many people. But after talking to someone else in the midst of her own post-Covid bout of pneumonia, I realized that just as I had searched for answers about how long it takes to get better, and what people were really experiencing as opposed to what the official sites say, it’s good to share your what you’ve been through so that other people can gain some insight, whether they’re sick themselves or dealing with someone who is.
This is scary. It is real. Had I given it to someone I love I would have been devastated (amazingly, Nic didn’t get it). Please don’t become complacent; we’re now a global community, and as such, we’re responsible for one another. Not as people from different nations, but as humans living on the same planet.