- Shafi Musaddique is a 29-year old freelance journalist based in London who caught the coronavirus last month.
- He, along with his elderly father, experienced majority of symptoms associated with COVID-19
- While Shafi and his father recovered fully, it took Shafi more than a month to get his sense of taste back.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Editor’s note: Shafi Musadiqque, a 29-year-old freelance journalist based in London, recently experienced symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. This is his day-by-day description of what the experience was like. (This is not meant to be medical advice; if you are concerned about your health, contact your doctor.)
It’s been a month into Britain’s coronavirus ‘lockdown’, but my family and I’ve spent the vast portion of that time recovering from the majority of symptoms associated with COVID-19. Although we were never tested and our numbers did not make it to the national figures, our symptoms and recovery have been in line with the guidelines outlined by health organizations.
Coughs, sweats, fever, sore body, dizziness, headaches, breathlessness and loss of taste. This is a disease that is both societal and personal. If you haven’t experienced covid-like symptoms, you’re probably wondering what it’s really like. It’s not the flu, nor is it just a fever; more so a combination of both. It’s an illness that comes in waves, like the distant sea calling you in, only to move away, confusing you into a false sense of security. Until it hits you again. Anyone who contracts COVID-19 will experience it differently, because no two people seem to react to it exactly the same way.
Here’s what happened to me over the course of four weeks, with an intense 5-day period.
Firstly, trust your gut instinct. If you ‘feel’ something lurking but don’t feel ill, it can be an indicator of what’s to come.
Britain’s pubs, bars and restaurants are still open despite warnings from the rest of Europe. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still 10 days away from announcing a national lockdown. I’ve already voluntarily isolated myself from the outside world, with the exception of being in contact with a close friend working on the emergency services frontline. After a meeting filled with tea and gossip, we both texted the same thing to each other: “do you have the faintest of tickling sensations inside the throat?” It feels almost invisible. Heck, it feels like I’m making it up, especially as I keep looking at coronavirus stuff both for work as a journalist and, well, leisure.
Tickling sensations in the throat come and go, but still nothing else. I still keep thinking it’s anxiety having to work around coronavirus stories a lot.
Constant throat clearing. I start to worry if the coronavirus is knocking on my door.
A high temperature ensues during a terrible night. Sore throat feels like a sword plunging down my throat now. Others describe it as “glass.”
Spinning headache comes and goes in waves. I suddenly feel great in the afternoon, then it kicks in again later. My eyes are sore simply from moving them.
The worst day. Bed sheets are soaked in sweat and my clothes cling to me, drenched with perspiration. A high fever rages through the night. My body is so sore, it hurts to walk. Dizziness creates the impression of a spinning room, and a few tingling sensations to the chest and a sore throat that feels like a sword is lodged. This is a day when I eat 6 whole, large oranges among other fruits in the hope of Vitamin C helping fight COVID-19.
My back is sore and my skin feels bruised, but otherwise it feels better. The orange-eating marathon and painkillers have re-energised me. Sore throat recedes during the day but returns during night.
Day 11-Day 33:
I gradually started getting better and by Day 33 I thought all symptoms have disappeared just in time for my birthday. Except they hadn’t. Two weeks in, I lose my sense of taste. My mother’s traditional curry is wasted on me. This is a time to start taste testing. I try different textures on my tongue. Cinnamon hits through. Cheese doesn’t. There’s an element of fun to a dismal situation. A month later, and at the time of writing, my taste has just returned.
It was my father’s turn now
A major caveat in all this is that my diagnosis is, unfortunately, not officially certified due to Britain’s lack of testing. My symptoms matched all the symptoms on the World Health Organization’s guidelines. No one wants to be a statistic, but wide spread testing would give every single person the reassurance they need at such an uncertain time.
The virus didn’t just hit me. I live with my elderly parents and me contracting the virus meant I passed it onto my father, or that he passed it onto me
My father, in his 70s, suffered the same symptoms at the same time, and more, including diarrhea. Several studies have found COVID-19 could include a bout of diarrhea, and researchers are still scrambling to know more. Just days after my immediate recovery, I found my father constantly breathless and unable to speak properly. One such day when this happened, I immediately called an ambulance. Being of south Asian descent and with underlying asthma and diabetes conditions, I realized my father was at risk. The emergency services acted fast and thanks to the Australian paramedic we got through the situation smoothly.
It was tough though. Neither me nor my mum were allowed to accompany my father in the ambulance when he was being taken to the emergency room. Phone calls kept me going, but silently I had started to make preparations for the worst. He has since made a full recovery, though it’s taken longer than the 14-day isolation recommended by authorities.
COVID-19 has peeled away at our humanity. It has been an eternity since I’ve had a hug, or even the faintest of physical touch. I’m now having withdrawal symptoms. Expect even bigger, better bear hugs from me in the post-covid world. I love people. As hellish as I’ve found this lockdown at times, I have seen the best in people. A re-emergence of social bonds.
This time shall pass. And when it does, to use a turn of phrase from my favourite British poet, the “little, nameless, unremembered acts/Of Kindness and of love” will be most fondly treasured.
Here are some tips in case you catch the virus. However, I would really hope you don’t. Stay safe, wash your hands regularly and maintain distance:
Boost your immune system and take on as much fruit as possible, especially vitamin C.
Soak in sunshine, where possible (even if it is from your balcony). This sped up my recovery especially for my soreness.
Throw all assumptions about productivity out the window and concentrate on resting. It’s OK to stop.
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