Dr Noureen Ahmad, GP, Belgium
As a General Practitioner, it was only a matter of time before getting infected with the coronavirus. Despite working with full PPE, it remains a huge challenge to avoid a Covid-19 infection as we’re exposed daily to it through patients. After catching it, I kept a daily journal about my symptoms and parameters.
On a Thursday when I came home, I was extremely tired which was not unusual due to a lot of workload in recent months. Suddenly I felt very dizzy. During the night, my fever started with chills and night sweats and I was deprived of sleep. I started with isolation in my home to prevent spreading this to my family. My dad wrote a letter immediately to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, may Allah be his Helper.
The next day my fever increased as I felt more ill. Muscle pains and cramps started all over my body, especially in the back, neck and legs. It was impossible to leave my bed. I also had a runny nose and a sore throat. During the day, I started to develop gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea (no vomiting), abdominal cramps and diarrhea. I lost my appetite and noticed the total loss of my taste and my smell.
On day three, my fever remained however the muscle pains got tolerable, but I still could not leave my bed. The upper respiratory symptoms (throat pain and runny nose) were now accompanied with a non-dry cough. This cough was paired with a lot of mucus which led sometimes to moments of shortness of breath. A chest pain started, it felt like a heavy pressure in my chest, leading to breathing difficulties. In these episodes of shortness of breath and chest pain, an anxious feeling would overcome me. This was something which I never have felt before. My gastrointestinal symptoms vanished; however, my appetite was still lost.
On day four, my fever finally dropped, and I could get out of my bed. My body still felt cold, but I was very happy that my muscle pains disappeared totally. However, my non-dry cough increased in frequency and intensity, especially at night. The chest pain became continuous and these both led to shortness of breath. The positive element of this day was that my appetite was slowly coming back. I could eat fruits and vegetables.
Over the next few days I was feeling much better than the past days. The cough turned into a dry cough however I experienced no more breathing problems. Occasionally I felt out of breath, for example going up the stairs or walking in the garden. I also performed a nose swab test on myself to check for Covid-19. It is an unpleasant test but not painful. It was positive for SARS-Cov-2 or Covid-19 infection.
By the grace of Allah, symptoms reduced as the month went by and my sense of smell and taste returned. I still felt extreme fatigue, but I was recovering. On day 21, I did a blood test to check for antibodies against Covid-19. It is important as a doctor to know if I have antibodies as my job exists of being in daily contact with Covid-19 patients. The blood test showed that my body had developed antibodies against it.
From what I have experienced, a Covid-19 infection is different than a regular flu or a common cold. The unusual and disturbing symptoms were mostly shortness of breath and chest pain which lead to uncertainty. Also, the loss of smell and taste are very common symptoms. However symptoms vary from person to person but, for the most part, have a common trend.
It is also important to quarantine at home immediately, as soon as the first symptoms occur, and preferable in one’s own room (with a separate bathroom) to avoid other family members getting ill. In the period of my illness, sadly everyone at home got sick at the same time.
Before and during my illness, I was continuously taking homeopathic medicines advised by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa. Before the infection, I was taking AAG (Aconite, Arsenic Alb, Gelsemium 200) two times a week and Chelidonium Majus (1x) three times a week. After experiencing the first symptoms on day 1, I added BIDO (Bacillinum, Influenzium, Diphtherinum, Oscillococcinum 200) and Chelidonium Majus (1x), both twice a day, for two weeks. I kept taking then until my symptoms disappeared, and then returned to the previous prescription.
It is also important to stay cautious as this is a new illness. It is advised to have a thermometer and a saturation (or an oxygen meter) at home to follow the disease properly, it will also lead to appropriate communication with your doctor which are mostly telephone based right now.
Fever usually starts above 38°C (100°F) however some studies suggest that the body can feel feverish from 37°C (98°F) in a Covid-19 infection. An oxygen or a pulse meter measures the blood oxygen in the blood through a sensor placed on the fingertip. Normal oxygen in the blood is between 96-99% and it is a good parameter to evaluate the clinical condition when feeling shortness of breath. Guidelines recommend that when the blood oxygen is 92% or below, one should contact their doctor.
Covid-19 infection gives an array of symptoms. Fever usually comes with chills and night sweats which leads to excessive loss of water. Thus, is it very important to drink a lot of water. Also, if clothes get soaked from sweating, changing them immediately can avoid quick temperature changes. For the fever and muscle pains, your best option is taking only paracetamol (acetaminophen) occasionally. I would take only before sleeping to have a good night rest (8-10 hours of sleep).
The loss of appetite happened due to several reasons but mainly because of the nausea feeling. For this, my father, a homeopathic doctor, would give me Ipecacuanha 30 which gave me quick relief from nausea. Besides patience not much can be done for the loss of the taste and smell.
During this illness, I was more focused on eating fruits as they contain a lot of vitamins and water. I would eat at least three apples, two pears and one kiwi which boosted up my energy. When my appetite was slowly returning, I would eat cooked or steamed vegetables and would avoid oil-rich heavy meals.
Shortness of breath would occur while lying down on my back. A useful tip is to add extra pillows at night for the head to be elevated. I did not use nose sprays or cough syrups for the cough but used a teaspoon of honey (three times a day) instead and found it very useful. Recently, Dr Noori Sahib from Pakistan advised some breathing exercises online. They exist of taking deep breaths (6-7x) every two hours by inhaling through the nose and holding the breath for a moment and then exhaling through the mouth. I did these breathing exercises daily and they most definitely helped toward my shortness of breath.
There are several studies discussing supplements for Covid-19 infection and prevention. I would take extra vitamin D, as some studies show that patients with severe Covid-19 symptoms also had severe vitamin D deficiencies. I would take this in the form of cod liver oil capsules, also known for other health benefits such as reducing inflammation in the body.
For extreme tiredness, I would get vitamin B12 injections. This was a remedy against severe weakness often used by my grandfather, Dr Manzoor Ahmad. I would not take extra supplements for vitamin C as I was eating a lot of fruits.
The last important point to mention is not to panic if you catch Covid-19. This is because fear and anxiety can be so overwhelming causing strong emotions which can lead to worsening of symptoms. From my personal experience, there were moments of anxiety, but it is important to try to ignore these feelings and focus on prayers instead and write immediately to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa for prayers.
As Ahmadis, we are lucky to have the dua (prayers) and the dawa (medicine) of our Huzooraa. So, if one does get ill, one must remember that Allah is:
“The Knower of the unseen and the seen, the Mighty, the Wise” (Surah al-Taghabun, Ch.64: V.19).
Allah has full control over everything, and He is the true Healer. We must implore before Him.