Coronavirus cases continue to climb in the Western Cape, the epicentre of the disease in South Africa, and authorities fear that the looming peak expected in the coming weeks could see scores of people infected, with some hospitals in the province already feeling the pressure.
However, the number of people recovering from the virus is remarkable and often not celebrated enough.
This is the story of Nadia Smith, a woman from Atlantis, a town 40km outside Cape Town, who conquered Covid-19.
Smith, 43, said she followed the hygiene protocols at all times to avoid contracting the virus, which included her staying at home as per the national lockdown orders.
“I did all the things I was supposed to do by wearing a mask when going to the shop to buy essentials,” said Smith.
Her journey with Covid-19 began in May.
“I refuse to use the ‘covid-19’ in capital letters because my God is greater than this pandemic,” declared Smith.
Smith said the symptoms of the disease manifested as a sore throat, tiredness, lack of appetite, excessive sweating, chest pains, diarrhoea, shortness of breath and splitting headaches. She also had a horrible metallic taste in her mouth, which made the food she ate taste unpleasant.
“During the lockdown period, I gained weight, but with ‘covid-19’, I lost weight just like that,” said Smith.
“I also could not smell anything, I couldn’t sleep, anxiety invaded my room like a thief at night, but I never stopped praying.”
“It was a Monday morning I went to my doctor with these terrible flu symptoms, starting off with the headache, sore throat, fever, body pain and shortness of breath.
“The virus was actually the last thing on my mind.
“I got my meds and my doctor put me on a nebuliser.”
The doctor told Smith he would have to conduct a Covid-19 test on her as she was displaying all the symptoms of the disease.
Smith explained that the test involves inserting what looks like a very long earbud into one’s nostrils right to the back of the nose. She said it was brief but unpleasant.
This was her first visit to this particular doctor, and he treated her like a concerned friend.
“It was on a Wednesday when the doctor confirmed that my results are positive and I need to isolate myself for 14 days.
“I started having anxiety because I was thinking of my kids and my mom and it was like everything is about to end. What about my babies and my mommy?
“But I have amazing people in my life,” she added. “My friends and family fed me with positivity.”
According to Smith, only a few people knew about her diagnosis as she didn’t want to talk about it.
“It’s not that I was ashamed, I just didn’t know how to explain it to people,” she says.
Smith avoided phone calls and didn’t return messages.
“I isolated myself from the world. Some of my friends will choke me for sure for not letting them know, and some are already upset, but I’m sorry, guys.”
The mom of two admits it wasn’t easy, especially having to isolate herself from her little princess.
“I could not touch her by kissing or hugging my child.”
“On day six I was struggling to breathe,” she continued. “My friends took me to the private hospital without hesitating, even though it was pouring and wet outside.”
According to Smith, her experience at the hospital was unpleasant because the staff were afraid.
“The staff were so scared of me. They asked me so many questions, but I don’t blame the health staff, because the number of cases and rising death toll is shocking in the Western Cape.”
X-rays of her lungs were taken and then she was sent back home.
She said, with the virus, you have to fight on your own, stay calm and stay with God. What kept her going were her mother’s prayers and video calls from family, friends and colleagues.
The Department of Health contacted her to make sure she was okay. They told her she needed to self-isolate, as well as when she could emerge from self-isolation.
She drank soup as well as lots of water, and took vitamins C and D. A recipe of boiling water with lemon, ginger and honey also helped soothe her, and she took Panado every four to six hours to control the headaches.
Eating regularly is also important, she stressed.
“You need to stay positive, because anxiety is a silent killer. The hardest battle to fight is fear and emotional stress of ‘covid-19’. But I found my strength in relying on the people who were supporting me.”
She said recovering from the coronavirus has changed her perspective of life and made her appreciate family, friends and the small things in life even more.
“To the guys out there who are still breaking into people’s houses, robbing people and hearing gunshots during this pandemic, what’s the point?
“It’s time to love one another, we must tolerate each other and pray and work hard together.
“We can defeat ‘covid-19’ because the virus can’t spread if it’s not moved around,” she said.