Say Their Names

Say Their Names. 2020

While we were busy complaining about 2020, 2021 was like “hold my beer” (but don’t drink it because he’s running out due to the booze ban). Don’t know about you guys but we had a very unmerry Christmas indeed. Let me share with you our tale of woe.

T’was the night before Christmas (actually a couple of days before), the husband and I were walking around Rosebank Mall doing Christmas shopping and he seemed to be almost out of it. No, not the usual man-shopping-and-looking-for-an-excuse-to-wriggle-out-of-it, he was weirdly spaced out. I wanted to make decisions about the kids’ Christmas presents as this was about our third visit to the Mall and we still had bought zip.

I was about to start whinging when I finally twigged that he really wasn’t up to it, in fact he was looking most unwell. Alarm bells started ringing and we immediately went looking for a place for him to have a Covid test. The testing centre at Rosebank was about to close and there was a looooooong queue but he managed to get in at Ampath by Donny Gordon hospital.

We got the results the next morning – the husband was positive.

Covid Positive

I had planned for my daughter and I to go and get our hair and nails done that afternoon – a little mother/daughter bonding time – and I felt dreadful for her and for the little salon we had booked at because they were relying on the business. We had plans for a socially distanced outdoor Christmas Eve dinner with friends and the same thing on Boxing Day with our family. We had to cancel it all. The kids’ moods just plummeted.

They were already depressed that we were not going away for Christmas, now this. I was three days into my precious two weeks of leave, I would be spending it in quarantine, plus I was scared. How was this terrible virus going to affect my husband?

Fortunately, he wasn’t too badly affected.

He lost his sense of taste and smell, he had flu symptoms for a few days, felt pressure on his chest and had an irritating rash and fatigue but all-in-all it was manageable – although a really shitty way to spend Christmas (and one of his long-term issues has been horrendous insomnia.) The doctor then advised me as the husband’s closest contact, to start taking vitamin D. At the beginning my symptoms were vague, I had a burning feeling in my chest, a cough and some fatigue – I assumed I was just having a mild case of the Rona. Boy, was I in for a rude shock.

On Christmas Day, I suddenly had a sneezing fit and then on a Zoom call with my family, I felt like I had grit in my right eye which wouldn’t stop watering. I remembered how the husband had complained that he thought he was getting a stye the week before he tested positive and I had a little bit of a premonition that I might be getting sick but pushed the thought away. Then on Boxing Day I started feeling fluey. I went for a test at Ampath that afternoon (BIG thank you to the staff who were manning it on a public holiday, including the twelve year old boy that tested me – okay, maybe not twelve, he could’ve been fifteen).

I woke up on the 27th feeling terrible, I didn’t need anyone to tell me, I knew I was positive.

The famous oximeter

Although my oxygen levels went down to the beeping level on the oximeter a couple of times, that was not the worst part for me. For me it was the pain, my entire body hurt, even my eyeballs and my hair. That and the weakness, I was so weak, I found it difficult to sit in a chair. I had a terrible cough that gave me a headache and sore ribs and sometimes I coughed so much I wanted to vomit.

Shout out to the ice packs left over from the son’s wisdom teeth removal which remained permanently affixed to my forehead.

Auntie Rona really is an all-rounder – not only did I have the usual flu symptoms, I also lost my sense of taste and smell and had no appetite, I had a burning pain in my sinuses and couldn’t stop sneezing and to cap it all I had diarrhoea and was terribly dehydrated. And it just wouldn’t go away. I was scared.

I had read everything about people taking a turn for the worse from day 8 to day 14 so I couldn’t relax until I was two weeks in.

My husband confessed afterwards that he thought he would have to take me to hospital,

I was so sick and I must say a little drip for the pain and the dehydration would’ve been lovely, but as I could still breathe, I thought I should tough it out at home. I gritted my teeth, downed painkillers, and a whole shoal of vitamins and remedies, steamed and nebulized and hoped for the best. The kids tested negative, thankfully, but they were so worried about us and simultaneously so depressed by the thoroughly shitty Christmas and New Year we were having, that it was hardly a picnic for them either.

Propped up for the media vs reality
Propped up for the photo…social media vs reality

It must’ve seemed schizophrenic to all our friends on social media as we were trying not to be Debbie Downers over Christmas so we kept posting these cheery pictures of us sitting (appropriately socially distanced) at the table in the garden.

Little did they know that after our pic on Christmas Day, the husband had to go and have a little lie-down and that I was virtually propped up at the table over New Year as I was too weak to sit up straight.

Say Their Names. Twitter Post Day 22

Eventually, I wrote a piece saying that we were positive and I tweeted my symptoms on a daily basis on Twitter and I have to say that the support we got was phenomenal (BIG mwah to everyone on the socials and to our family and friends who called and messaged to check on us.)

It was really lovely being able to compare symptoms with fellow covideers and to have people cheering you on especially when I didn’t feel like I was getting any better.

That is really the great part of social media. The not so nice part was a troll saying “Maybe now you’ll wear a fucking mask”.

However, I didn’t really need to respond as author, Eva Mazza took care of her (if you haven’t read any of her books, you really should, I see she has a new one out soon. Look out for Christine.)

Speaking of books, reading was honestly what kept me sane during this whole experience.

A few more fab books that got me through the Rona...
A few of the fab books I read..
A few of the fab books I read..
A few more fab books that got me through the Rona…

That and watching doccies about Princess Diana on Netflix. No, I don’t know what that was about either. Maybe because I knew the story so it didn’t matter if I nodded off for an hour? I have no idea. I read sooooooooo many books. Too many to talk about in one blog post, so here are a couple of pics of all the books I’ve read since we last spoke.

No, I am not kidding, I really did read them all.

I am still bitter that my precious two weeks leave got swallowed up by the Rona, and I know there are people far worse off than me, but being told you have no right to feel sad about something never helped anyone, did it?

So, I am giving everyone permission to grieve right now. For the book launches that were cancelled, for the holidays they couldn’t take, for the Matric Dances that never happened, for the jobs that have been lost, for the weddings that had to be postponed, for businesses that have folded, for the houses/cars/TVs that had to be sold to make ends meet, and most of all for the people that we have lost – and the fact that there is no closure, we didn’t even get to say goodbye or mourn them properly.

On my 19th day of recovery, when I was starting to feel better, I got the news that my cousin’s son had passed from Covid related complications.

I did not know my cousin’s son well, but his death shook me. I guess firstly because that could’ve been me, and I did have to ask the question, “why did we get to survive this, and he didn’t?” He was a pilot, in his early thirties, he had his whole life ahead of him. I don’t want him or anyone else to become just a number – part of the graph of daily deaths that are reported every day and that’s why it’s important to remember all the people that have passed and to say their names.

RIP Neal Scowby thanks to Jiksha Mahavir for the pic
RIP Neal Scowby (thanks to Jiksha Mahavir for the pic)

His name was Neal Scowby.

At this time, I would also like to remember my colleague, Nas Hoosen – buddy, I never did get to tell you how great your last script was so I’m telling you now. I’m also thinking of my friend Kim who lost her sister, my BFF Cath who lost her mum, and our beloved minister, Jackson Mthembu who recently passed away, along with everyone who had died from this terrible virus.

Although I don’t often go to Church anymore and am more of a Lapsed-Catholic-Buddhist-Agnostic, I still love this prayer and remember my mother saying it:

Eternal rest grant unto them, Oh Lord.

Let perpetual light shine upon them.

May they rest in peace.

I wish you all strength and love as we get through this difficult time together .

The candle we lit on NYE to remember all the lives livelihoods lost to COVID19
The candle we lit on NYE to remember all the lives & livelihoods lost to COVID19