Despite the number of Covid-19 cases in SA increasing by thousands on a daily basis and more families losing loved ones, there are those who have won their battles against Covid-19. Durban woman, Bethany Thomas-Wessels is one of them.
According to the National Health Ministry, nearly 300 000 South Africans have recovered from Covid-19.
In a post on her Facebook page, Thomas-Wessels shared her experience and urged people to take the virus seriously.
She said she did “everything right” but nothing had prepared her for what she knows now.
Thomas-Wessels said she experienced silent hypoxia which is a depletion of oxygen levels in the blood and tissue without the person showing visible symptoms.
“I got to the hospital not knowing my blood oxygen levels were below normal from this but I had severe chest pain, breathlessness, and hand tremors. Silent hypoxia is dangerous in that a person doesn’t have outward glaring signs of gasping for air or panting for days or weeks and by the time they become critical, the virus has already slowly deprived the body of oxygen and damaged the lung tissue and nerves,” she said.
Thomas-Wessels said she was admitted to hospital with severe lung complications of Covid-pneumonia and had blood clots in her lungs as well. Her chest walls and ribs were also inflamed.
“It has also affected my nervous system and ability to process thoughts and recall details in my life,” she said.
Thomas-Wessels said she did not have any of the usual symptoms associated with Covid-19.
“I went to the doctor thinking I have a really bad sinus infection as I had extreme pain and pressure in my head. Over this time I have been the most sick I have ever felt – in tears on some days feeling like I am dying. I have had nasal and head congestion, general malaise, extreme lethargy, loss of appetite, smell and taste, nausea, body pain, fevers, foggy brain, heightened emotions, chest pain and breathlessness,” she recalled.
She said her doctor advised her to get a test because her symptoms were unusual yet similar to other unusual positive cases that he had encountered.
She explained that she had gotten to the hospital early enough to be treated as most people with silent hypoxia sought help at a critical stage.
Thomas-Wessels said she decided to share her experience to break two stigmas; that young people will not get sick and that Covid presents conventional flu symptoms.
“I am lucky that although it was unusual to be feeling this way at three weeks, I still came to hospital early enough to be treated. Most people with silent hypoxia seek help after reaching a critical stage where it might be too late,” she said.
Thomas-Wessels urged people to contact their doctors if they develop chest pains or even feel breathless.
“Be persistent in getting help before it gets bad. Even if your doctor doesn’t listen, find one who will or go to the hospital,” she urged.
By Thursday evening, Thomas-Wessels said she was “taking it day by day”.
“I have a few weeks of recovery to go before I am hopefully back to normal,” she said.
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