LIFESTYLE NEWS - With the Covid-19 pandemic still relatively fresh in South Africa, confusion about how the virus spreads is rife. With infections sitting at around 1,686 and the death toll at 12, there remains a glimmer of hope in stories of recovery.
In her blog, Livingcoronapositive, Smith has taken the public on a detailed chronological journey of her and her family’s experience of becoming infected and then recovering.
Smith and her immediate family, including her elderly parents, went on a two-week holiday to Switzerland in early March, where they contracted the virus.
She says she’s not certain where she picked up the virus but suspects the infection took place at a pub.
“Well, not a club but rather a busy pub one evening after dinner celebrating my brother’s birthday.”
The whole family had gone out.
The family felt sick already while in Switzerland but had no idea that it was the coronavirus. Upon landing back home in South Africa, Smith explains that her brother went to get tested because he felt really terrible.
“I thought he was overreacting but turns out he wasn’t. In 24 hours the test came back positive, which is when we realised that we all had it!”
The family was instructed to self-quarantine at home.
The weeks that followed were a complete roller coaster. She suffered from a deep headache, a dry cough and a fever, as well as a lot of fatigue, which lasted a week.
“Our symptoms came and went. My brother took a long time to get better and was really sick with absolutely no energy. There was one day that we were very worried about him, but then two days later he showed signs of improvement and then continued to get better.
“My dad, who is 70, was sick for a lot longer. He has taken almost three full weeks to feel somewhat better. His energy levels still aren’t back to normal but we’re very glad that he’s himself again.”
Another symptom suffered by her father and brother was the loss of sense of taste and smell.
Describing the real experience of the coronavirus, Smith says, contracting the virus is mentally shocking and draining as your body feels physically weak. A physical feeling of lethargy sets in.
“It was a shock because at the time there were only about 30 cases in South Africa and although the world was aware of corona, for South Africans it definitely wasn’t a reality yet.
“Physically for us it was like a hardcore flu but Julia who was with us only showed symptoms for one day and then was absolutely fine so the symptoms vary greatly.”
Although there is currently no cure or vaccine, the coronavirus seems to go through each patiently differently, with some succumbing to the virus while others overcome it quickly without being admitted to the hospital. Smith learnt a few lessons on her journey of living with the virus and recovery. She was able to take care of herself while sick as the virus didn’t ravage her as it had some others.
“Well, I wasn’t sick enough where I couldn’t take care of myself. I think out of my family, other than Julia (her brother’s girlfriend who really only had one day of feeling bad), I was let off the lightest so I’m really grateful I could have been there for my family.”
Smith explains that she was able to recover by getting through the phase where symptoms were bad, and then she just focusing on staying hydrated.
“Resting as much as we could, eating as healthily as possible, and anything else that would support improved immune activity,” were key.
The department of health was very involved with medical assistance, testing and clearance.
Through the process she set up an Instagram page to help other people in South Africa and the world over deal with contracting the virus and recovering from it.
“Being one of the first South Africans to get the virus, we almost felt that we had a duty to share our experiences and what we were going through so that people understood first-hand what this whole thing was all about.
“We realised quickly that there were a lot of misconceptions about the virus and that so many people just wanted in on the truth and to hear from people actually going through it and recovering, as opposed to only hearing the horror stories.”
With the misconceptions floating around South Africa, it’s imperative that people understand the key factors that should be known about the virus. There are things Smith thinks people should be educated on in terms of contraction and living with it.
“If you have a healthy immune system, you can recover and not require hospitalisation. If you contract the virus, it’s highly possible that you might pass it on to people you come into contact with, so although you might be OK as an individual, you could make your whole family sick, as was the case with us, and that is tougher to deal with. This virus is not gentle on the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, so you really don’t want one of your parents or older family members or friends to get it.”
Her 70-year-old father got through the virus and is currently in recovery.
“My dad is an extremely healthy, fit and grounded guy and that’s why he’s gotten through this at his age! My health and looking after it is more important than I’ve ever realised.”
Living through the virus is a life-changing experience that can make all who contract it view health in a different light. To Smith, it’s been a reminder of the importance of the basics of health – hydration, rest, good nutrition, minimising stress, sunshine and fresh air as well as eliminating and minimising toxins.
“I’ve learnt a lot more about how the immune system functions and what additional activities and habits aid and inhibit its effectiveness and ability to fight off infection or disease. My system now needs a reboot so I’m trying to focus on hydration through a lot of herbal teas, adding Vitamin C, zinc and L-lysine supplements to my diet.”
Being a small business owner and being ill had a drastic financial impact on Smith’s business.
“I was away overseas for two weeks and then away from work for two weeks because of corona and now my business has been forced to close during lockdown – so that’s a total of seven weeks being away from my business (at least). Excluding the impact that a compromised economy will have on my business that is already a significant knock.”
She encourages people currently diagnosed or living with the virus under quarantine or currently hospitalised to stay the course.
“For those people in quarantine, I would say stay strong … temporary quarantine is a small price to pay for some relief of the long-term effects the virus as a whole will have on our country. Your health and your relationships are the two most important things in life! We do not want this virus to spread and by staying home, you’re helping that happen.”
Info: Megs Smith shares her visual journey on the following social media platforms: www.livingcoronapositive.com and Instagram @livingcoronapositive.