• Nehan Sarfaraz

Facing the invisible enemy: Covid19 and my experience!

On the 26th of June, I was registered as a Covid19 case. The coronavirus, the virus that shook the world, the virus that stopped the world and all sorts of scary titles that different news channels were calling it, suddenly became the virus that made me a victim.


Four days prior, I had a complete sense of smell and taste. The decline was quick. I lost probably 30% of my olfactory sense on one day. The next day, I was barely able to taste my Extra mint chewing gum. And on the 26th of June, I knew something wasn't quite right.


I couldn't smell or taste anything at all. I hadn't stepped out of my house except for groceries: no walks, no drives around the block, absolutely nothing. I'd been in my room the entire time. What could have possibly been happening to me?


The last time I'd been out of my house was the 17th of June. For about 45 minutes, to the local co-operative. Groceries were the only reason I was getting out of my house. No matter what the temptation was, I knew I had to stay home.



I live with my parents, who are both old and have underlying health conditions. The virus was scarier for me as a situation to them than I ever considered it to be for myself.


The day I lost complete sense of smell, I didn't have a blocked nose. I have been suffering from severe allergies for my whole life now. I knew it wasn't an allergic reaction. I didn't ever have nasal polyps. I barely stepped out of my house to have possibly contracted a common cold. And if I must emphasize, once again, my nose was NOT blocked, no congestion whatsoever. Yet I couldn't smell or taste anything.


On the 26th of June, I was a registered case of the COVID19 and classified as 'mild case'. I had been home quarantined because I didn't require immediate medical attention. I had mild symptoms - or at least that's what they told me. As for my parents, they were still healthy, by the grace of God. (How I thought I would never say that in a blog)


The immediate response to the virus was a quick change in lifestyle. I locked myself up in my room, and I had to make sure that I had no contact with my parents. My family had been practising social distancing in the household as well, since the lock-down. But this was far worse and far more serious. The entire house had to be thoroughly disinfected by both my parents. They were healthy, but they also have been placed under a 14-day home quarantine.



I placed a table at the door outside my room. My parents told our housekeeper to take a few days off. We decided that whatever I required to eat and drink would be placed on the table outside my door. And it wouldn't be picked up until both my parents weren't anywhere close. The clothing, including my bedding, is all kept aside and out in the sun for two days before washing. My garbage is double knotted and double bagged. And while handling these things, my parents wear double masks and gloves which are also disposed of in a bag, double knotted.


The doctors had prescribed me a combination of antibiotics, which I was supposed to take only in the situation that I couldn't breathe. Vitamin C & D, Zinc and Magnesium had also been prescribed. They asked me to eat healthier foods, stay very hydrated, and rest as much as I could. 'Whenever you feel sleepy, just sleep', is what the doctor told me.


I was fully aware that there hadn't been a vaccine created for the virus and that different doctors were using combinations of medicines that were working on some of their patients. But what works for one, doesn't necessarily work for another.


One day later, and I started feeling changes in my body. I woke up with a headache. That felt far worse than a hangover after my best party nights in London. I'd been awake a few hours, taken a shower, eaten breakfast, and suddenly I felt my body giving up on me.


I was lethargic and I'd barely been awake for two and a half hours. I went back to bed. Woke up to my parents calling my phone at lunchtime, telling me that lunch was outside my door. 'Did you sleep again? Are you okay?' my mother asked me. I told her how I felt, and I heard the fear and sadness in her voice. She was scared and she was worried and I don't think I'd ever wanted to hug her more than that, but I couldn't.


I told her to hang in there and that the rest of the next few days would probably be me sleeping a lot so she'd have to call me. I ate lunch and slept again for a few hours. And I woke up to body aches. The virus acts fast. It may take a few days to show it's symptoms after it's in your body, but once it begins its work - it's like a 'real-time render'. This virus got faster by the hour.



Within 24 hours after a complete loss of olfactory and gustatory senses, I had headaches, body aches, difficulty breathing, and chest pains. The body aches were so severe that it felt like I was beaten up. I woke up in cold sweats, and I had shivers from time to time. My eyes burned, and my lips were dry. I was waking up every hour to drink water. The dehydration was so bad that I was able to finish 3 litres of water every day. I was parched even though I was drinking all that water.


The following five days were me being awake for about 4 to 6 hours a day in total. I had zero control over my routine. The only time I was awake was to shower, have a meal, and maybe respond to a few texts. And the loss of taste and smell was so significant that I ate raw onions without recognizing them. I had never experienced anything like this before. I grew texture sensitivity to some of my favourite fruits. The normal me loves bananas, but I didn't particularly appreciate eating a banana. The texture would make me nauseous, and there was zero taste to it. It felt like eating paper dipped in water - if you will. All foods tasted the same - like absolutely nothing.



My meals mainly consisted of fruits, salads, and foods that were rich in fibre and proteins. The food was all served in disposables. I wasn't allowed any cold foods - they were all room temperature and served with warm drinks—ginger water, lemon water, to a point where I even had garlic water (couldn't taste that as well). I took steam about 3-5 times a day, every day for 5 minutes. I should have probably sat for longer, but my body was giving up on me.


I would wake up from my sleep feeling like there was something burdensome placed on my chest. I was only able to breathe laying on my stomach. The difficulty in breathing got to a point where I had to make a lot of effort just to breathe. And before I was done exhaling, I needed to breathe again. I had to mentally prepare myself for every breath I took during an episode. The entire episode, however, would last about 10-15 minutes which was then followed by myself surrendering to lethargy and falling back asleep. I had about 4-5 episodes a day. Note: I do not suffer from asthma.


My bedroom's window opens to my apartment's balcony, which is accessible from the living room. That's how I would see my parents; through the window. Sometimes they would be knocking on the window to wake me up because of the deep sleep.



It took about seven days for my taste-buds to restart. Until today, I can't taste some of the foods and some things like chocolate, taste different. The body aches are gone, and so are the headaches. My olfactory sense still isn't completely functional. I'd say I've regained about 50% of it.


As someone who experienced all of this, I'd like to share the things that I learned during this time. With all honesty, I promise you that nothing else matters more than your breath. Eat healthily, stay as hydrated as you can; make sure that your food has good nutritional value. If you're not as tired as I am, exercise. Please don't smoke, it's not worth it (trust me, two weeks ago I used to be a smoker). And rest well because nothing is going to fight the virus except your body. You need to train it to be a soldier ready for war. The virus is out there, and it is real. I cannot emphasize this enough.


For all of you that are tired of the lockdowns and curfews, I was a 'mild case', and what I experienced was far worse than any cold I have ever survived. Yes, it is a 'cold', but it's so much more than that. You'd be lucky if you were a mild case, but you can be sensible and not be a case at all. Don't go out unless necessary. If you had to breathe like I was breathing a few days ago, and if you only knew the danger, you wouldn't even look out the window, let alone want to go outside. And if you're wondering what I'll do once my quarantine is over? I'm going to go hug my parents.



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