Even though cases continue to rise, from a distance, it seems like everyone has returned to normal life again. And yet, stepping out of the house results in an overwhelming feeling of fear and uncertainty. So we decided to see how the virus has been affecting people around us.
Yes, the virus does not discriminate in who it infects - but it does behave differently as it comes in contact with any human body. For some, it might result in no symptoms at all, for others it might vary from mild to serious symptoms, and also those poor souls that end up in a critical state. We asked around some Coronavirus survivors about their journey through the madness.
Zeeshan, 37, an admin manager at a shoe factory told us that his first indication of having contracted the virus was when he simply couldn't tell the difference between "kaddus" (pumpkin) and "karelay" (bitter gourd). And for those who have tried the two veggies, know how different they taste when your taste buds have not been overwhelmed by the virus.
"The moment I was diagnosed - I immediately felt like it was a death sentence. And while that might be the case for those that are immuno-compromised, I was lucky enough to recover from it without lasting damages to my health." said Zeeshan. Fortunately for him, the symptoms did not go beyond the loss of smell and taste. After isolating for 14-16 days, he was virus free.
Hania, 27, is a mother of two who noticed a strange symptom. Instead of losing her sense of smell, day in and day out she noticed a foul smell. This was not like anything she had smelled before. It made her squeamish but she powered through. Having developed no other symptoms, she recovered back to her healthy state.
Then of course, there were those who experienced severe body aches and the most unnerving symptom of all - difficulty in breathing. Maryam, 24, a software engineer, developed night chills which led to severe body aches, and then around day 6, she developed severe tightness in her chest. Soon, she was unable to breathe with ease, and began to nebulise herself about 3 times a day. "With every passing day, I could feel like the wheezing in my chest was getting considerably worse. I would try to breathe, and it felt like there was a blockage in my lungs that prevented adequate oxygen from reaching them. I remember being so scared of it, that I began to cry as I held up the mask to nebulise myself. I, too, took the virus lightly before I was exposed to it. It is NOT a joke. It can take a turn for the worse when you least expect it."
There have been many others like Maryam who have developed a difficulty to breathe. The sheer horror of being isolated in a room while you struggle to breathe, forced to isolate to keep your family and friends safe is indeed a very scary process. Maryam has thankfully recovered and is back to being a young, vibrant girl.
Tamara, 26, a content writer, ended up losing 10 kilos throughout the process. She was so bogged down by the fever and the loss of taste and smell, that she could barely consume any food. She, too, developed severe breathing difficulty. Due to the shortage of ventilators in hospitals, her family quickly arranged and bought an oxygen tank along with a ventilator for her to have access to at home. Despite all their efforts, Tamara's lungs were so badly affected that the pulmonologist told her "your lungs have been reduced to that of a 70 year old's".
And even though the virus has left her system, she still feels the lasting effects of it. "Climbing up and down the stairs makes me breathless. I can barely walk for 5 minutes before I start gasping for air as if I've run a marathon. The virus might have left my system but I have not recovered completely", said Tamara.
The sad and stories of these survivors makes us wonder why people in our country are not taking the virus seriously. Even though the statistics show a low death rate, there is no way of determining who'd fall within that small percentage. Young, seemingly healthy individuals have passed away after contrasting the virus - it isn't only life threatening for the old and sick. It could be you, or someone you love. There are those that use the low death statistic as an excuse to continue to defy the SOPs and not wear face masks - without giving it a second's thought that even if the virus did not lead to death, the entire process is lonesome and terrifying - and meant to be avoided as best as possible.
Furthermore, the effects of the virus are not only limited to physical ailments but also bring forth the mental anxiety and stress that comes with it. "Feeling cooped up inside, the mental affects of the virus feel somewhat like suffering from PTSD", Tamara pointed out.
To much of our dismay, the internet is full of memes that talk about writing off the year 2020 from the calendar itself, the virus has been an eye opener in so many ways: be it the need for better food intake, healthier immune systems, better healthcare systems, and a whole lot more introspection.
This time has been tough: on you and I, on all of us. Therefore, let us remember to be kind to ourselves and those around us. Whether you're doing all the housework yourself; have recently lost your job or a loved one; you've contracted the virus and have/continue to fight it off; you have been dealing with anxiety or depression; or even if you continue to stay home for the sake of your loved ones, or have to step out of the house to earn a living, YOU ARE ALL WARRIORS.