Breathing is perhaps the most natural reflex. Who should remember to breathe?
Ria Lakhani does it. Recovering at home in north-west London, after a serious Covid-19 case, the sales manager learns something that most of us never think of.
“Before, it was such a natural action, but now I have to remember how to breathe in and out,” she says.
Isolated, she still cannot hug her husband or see his parents and siblings. And she always wakes up at night struggling to breathe.
Ria started showing symptoms of Covid-19 while she was in the hospital, where she was admitted for surgery. Seven years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare condition that makes swallowing difficult and means that she often regurgitates solids. The surgery was designed to help him manage this esophageal disease, called achalasia.
But she insists that her condition made her particularly attentive to her health.
His admission to the hospital was supposed to be routine. But when she recovered, she began to have trouble breathing. She then developed a temperature.
While everyone hoped it was just a side effect of his surgery, a Covid swab test was taken as a precaution. Ria was agitated and started taking notes on her phone, documenting her experience on Facebook.
“My room was now closed and the rest of the neighborhood evacuated,” she wrote. “Did I close an entire room ?! I miss my family so much. With Covid-19’s tests so limited, I was ashamed that I am given a tampon so quickly when there are others who are more likely to have it. I was sure I was clear. I followed all of the guidelines. “
It was in vain. The Ria virus test was positive.
As her condition deteriorated and she needed more oxygen, she was transferred to one of London’s main Covid-19 treatment centers.
Ria remembers the worried looks on the faces of the doctors who watched her for two difficult days and one night, while her body was desperately trying to fight the disease. She says that what she went through at that time irrevocably transformed her.
“Things were going from bad to worse – catching your breath has become as difficult as climbing a mountain,” she wrote on Facebook. “I could see the increasingly worried looks on the faces of the many heroes who treated me. More and more doctors looked at each other, muttered mutually – observations taken every minute and constantly scrutinized. Scary, uncertainty, annoying, so many feelings, so many thoughts in my head, questions that I was afraid to hear the answers to. “
“I almost died,” she said, speaking from her home to the BBC. “I almost didn’t get out of there. There was a time when I started writing difficult messages to my family. I almost died now that I’m alive. How can life get back to normal after that? “
Ria isn’t sure if she has developed pneumonia but even says now, from her wake-up bed at home in Harrow, she can hear a “crackle” in her lungs “.
His recovery was slow. At the hospital, she could barely move at first and was given morphine in addition to oxygen because of the pain. She says it was difficult to speak.
“Putting out a sentence was like running a marathon. “
But in the middle of it all, there were glimpses of hope. She developed a bond with a 96-year-old deaf woman named Iris in the next bed. They started monitoring each other despite the age difference.
“I needed her as much as she needed me,” she adds.
And she found hope in the small gestures of kindness of the medical staff – “real heroes” in her own words.
“It was the little victories and things like the nurses who assured that Iris had a constant supply of hot tea and a sly extra slice of cake that made me smile. “
At home, she has to keep a distance from her husband and continues to be besieged by coughing fits.
But she is relieved to have been able to fight the virus, especially given the number of people who have died.
“There was a moment in this trip that I didn’t know if I would see the light of day again. Nothing was certain, and even though I always knew how much I love my family – at those times, I learned how much I need them. I can’t explain when I left the hospital, I will never take anything for granted again. ”
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