So why then am I jumping in to give you my experience?
Well, as a writer and editor, it’s my job to report on real life when I bump into entertaining or interesting “news you can use”.
I am well aware that 2021 is likely to be as unpleasant as 2020, and we may have to accept that more of us will catch this illness before a vaccine can lead to herd immunity.
However, I am also fed up with all those gloomy or sensational reports making juicy headlines.
Let’s bear in mind they make headlines precisely because they are unusual, and not the norm.
The norm is recovery and the fatality rate even now, in mid January, is less than 3% – or one in 33.
Of course, you may know someone in that 3% and that is unspeakably sad.
Here, therefore, is what I reckon is a more typical experience, which is of a family of three with a full laundry list of symptoms, ranging from mild to medium.
For me, Covid-19 went like this:
- Week 1: yuck, this is a nasty flu
- Week 2: wow, this is more than flu
- Week 3: slowly crawling out of a blurry, exhausting hellhole
- Week 4 to date: better, except for lingering cough and tiredness.
The day after receiving my results, the department of health sent two nurses to our home, who tested my husband and daughter, free of charge.
They also let my family know most people with Covid-19 have a mild illness and recover fully after 10 days – and that was true for two of us.
An oximeter (around R200 at pharmacies) was useful to allay fears about lack of oxygen.
A different nursing team followed up the following week with a home visit, again at no cost.
What helped me
Patience is your friend: Covid-19 may have felt never-ending but it did end and it helped when friends told me this.
It also helped to know that although the long-term effects are not yet fully known, medical science does not see this as a cancer which will attack your body for years.
It helped to thank, then quietly ignore, a few of the weird and wooky remedies friends WatsApped or Facebooked through to me.
I listened to my doctor and pharmacist.
It helped to look for information only on credible sites, such as accredited universities or medical institutions, and reputable media houses.
When I read ludicrous conspiracy theories, I had a giggle – but only a gentle one, because laughing made me cough more.
Then, I firmly asked Facebook to show me fewer of these posts.
What I hadn’t realised, though, was how much Covid-19 would mess with my mind.
This virus may be as much psychological as physical because if you have an ounce of imagination your mind will leap to the possibility of hospitalisation, the fear of dying, and other big “what if” questions.
And it’s not only about you and your fears because you won’t be able to stop thinking about friends who have suffered through the virus.
Several of them may have had it worse or even lost loved ones, and this is sobering.
Personally, I don’t think we know the full psychological implications yet.
What helped for me here was to appreciate that we all have different points of view, and if I can accept this then I’m a lot calmer and more able to cope.
I’m not wasting my energy arguing about which political leader has said or done the most stupid thing because, let’s face it, bar perhaps New Zealand, no country in the world has made “perfect” choices.
Do what is right for you and your family, and ignore the rest – unless they are putting others in danger – because they have to live with their conscience, not you.
This is also not the time for a sparkling clean home or even well-scrubbed, tidy children so put your pride in your pocket and accept offers of help.
Use technology to send written messages or voice notes rather than have a spoken conversation, which is tiring and may make you cough more.
Do keep in touch with others: the loneliness and isolation of lockdown can be hard.
And, be kind.
This phrase is more than a t-shirt slogan, it was a little mantra that helped me to retain my sanity and perhaps it may help you also.
It helped to cut myself some slack and I’m pretty sure it helped my family for me to “be kind” as well.
Judgmental attitudes are not only harsh and unhelpful, they also are energy sapping.
Of course, we do have to be careful and practical and follow the guidelines of “mask, sanitise and distance” but let’s try to be kind as well.
Be kind to all kinds.
- Gillian McAinsh is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Nelson Mandela Bay
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