A renowned television personality has recently tested positive for COVID-19. At this moment in time, our interviewee will remain anonymous, however there will be a time where we will meet with him again, speak face to face, without anonymity.
In this article, we delve into his experience and aftermath. In this interview, we discuss how this has affected his personal and professional life.
What symptoms got you worried and made you want to get tested?
At first, I was feeling tired and with minor headaches, but nothing so alarming or so I thought. After two days, the headaches persisted and I started to experience a discomfort in my throat. At this point, I knew I was sick but was still hoping it could be a normal cold, however I booked a swab test straight away which was scheduled for the following day. Given the protocols suggested by the health authorities, I had quarantined myself immediately.
What was your first feeling when you received the result?
Almost a day after I had been tested, my mobile phone rang and I knew even before I answered, that I was positive and so it was confirmed as soon as the public health doctor told me “I am sorry”. At that point I felt devastated, helpless, angry and worried. I simply broke down and for various reasons. First of all, I feared for my family, close relatives and friends who I was in contact with. Also, I had no clue what damage this virus will do to me – it was simply a thousand thoughts in a few seconds!
What happened next? How did the health department handle your situation?
Unfortunately, there was not much anyone could do but simply accept it and rest. The health authorities were very helpful and supportive but could not suggest any medications whatsoever, since there is no cure for it. I could take medication to cope with the headaches and maybe lozenges for my sore throat.
You are a married person, with a wife and kid. How did you handle your situation at home?
Four days after I was diagnosed, both my wife and mother started showing similar symptoms and that was it! My worst nightmare came true as I had infected both of them. Luckily my 7-year-old son did not get infected! At that point I felt that the world just fell on my shoulders as I found myself trying to cope with the fact that I had caught the virus and also had transmitted it to my close relatives, in particular to my vulnerable mother, who is seventy-two years of age. I had mixed feelings and emotions such as anger, guilt and fear. The thought of risking my mum’s life was devastating besides the fear that this virus can leave you with permanent side effects/repercussions. Obviously at home we had to be separated and this has caused a psychological negative effect both to me and my wife, but mostly to my son. Given his age, he is still dependent on us so it was a huge challenge to cope with his needs but at the same time trying our best not to infect him. The thought of not knowing what was going to happen was devastating. We used to check and ask thousands of questions to our 7-year-old child to try and figure out if he was ok or not.
How was quarantine like?
Locked up in your bedroom for fifteen days was a nightmare. Luckily, I could make use of a separate bathroom so at least I could, sometimes have a three second walk! Quarantine is mandatory so I could see the positive side of it, since it was the only way to recover and minimise exposure to my family, however collecting dinner from behind my bedroom door, was emotionally painful.
What did you feel everyday during your quarantine?
Everyday was different. I could feel that the virus was taking its course since just after three days I had lost the ability to taste. This was really annoying as I couldn’t distinguish what I was drinking or eating! At one point my headaches started to fade off but on the other hand new symptoms resurfaced, those of nausea and shortness of breath.
Which side effect worried you the most?
The shortness of breath without any doubt. On a daily basis, the public health officials used to call to keep me monitored and I must take the opportunity to thank these people as they were a breath of fresh air. After complaining about my shortness of breath, they had suggested to have me checked at hospital and the necessary arrangements were made to have me picked up by an ambulance and taken to a dedicated area at the emergency section at Mater Dei, where I was thoroughly checked and luckily enough I was not admitted.
What was the main concern during your experience? Was it directly COVID-19 related, financial or psychological? Were there any other concerns?
It was a mixture of everything. Obviously, my main concern was my health and that of my family, but I was extremely concerned about the psychological effects my son could have been experiencing. He was struggling all alone in the bedroom for fifteen days to say the minimum, with no contact whatsoever and the only way I could communicate with him was by video calls and this had damaged us all. It was heartbreaking.
Could you perform your normal everyday functions when you were infected?
On the whole yes, although I couldn’t do much, locked up in one room, however I struggled with my breath every time I tried to do some sort of exercise, together with the exhaustion.
What precautions did you take to minimise the risks of the virus spreading to your family members?
As explained, the three of us quarantined ourselves in separate rooms with me and my wife using one bathroom and my kid the ensuite which was convenient, since we had placed him in our main bedroom. We also had our set of utensils, cutlery etc and used to place our clothes in separate bags so that they could be washed separately. Every time we had to go out of our rooms (me and my wife) to go to the bathroom, we had to wear masks and also gloves when my wife had to cook for our child. Yet again, the image or the thought of how we were living, is still very much present and consequently painful.
Are the symptoms similar to those of a cold or flu?
I consider this as the million-dollar question as some symptoms differ from one person to another, however you can’t really tell as COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the cold, influenza and allergies. In my opinion this is a complete bummer! My initial symptoms were exactly like a normal cold or flu.
What were you told to do during your quarantine? What medication were you given, if any at all?
All we had to do is to rest as much as possible, however it was always suggested to perform a ten-minute exercise to avoid even further complications such as thrombosis. No specific medications can be consumed for the Coronavirus, only Panadols for headaches.
Did you try any home-made remedies?
Yes, this was vital as we needed to improve our immune systems which would help to fight the virus or so we thought. Such home-made remedies included lemon tea, honey and fruit containing the necessary vitamins.
From where do you think you caught the virus?
I am still asking this question. Local transmission is surely a possibility but not my first suspect since I was always very attentive to limit any exposure with people. I still believe though that this was a case of surface contact, followed by touching my face.
Do you still have any symptoms now that you have recovered?
Unfortunately, yes. I am still struggling with my breath and occasional headaches. I hope this is temporary and that I recover my health 100% and close this chapter as soon as possible.
How is your son recovering from this ordeal?
We are still trying our best to convince our son that we are back to normal but in reality, we are not. At his current age, he is well aware of what is going on. At this moment, we are considering seeking professional help but at the same time, we are not so keen to go out or to visit doctors, so we are seeking online options. His fears of touching surfaces, even at home, are still evident even though we make it a point to sanitise the house frequently. We are trying our best to distract him and spend a lot of time together doing what he loves most. In fact, it is a must that we dedicate most of our free time with him. It’s not an easy situation living in such conditions, but we have to be positive and strong for his sake.
How did your mother fare against COVID-19?
Thankfully she was ok throughout. She suffered from severe nausea, but nothing life threatening. Having said so, both my mum and myself have to undergo further tests like the Heart ECO test and CT Scans to see if there is any permanent damage to our organs. I do suggest that anyone who had been positive to undergo all the necessary tests and check-ups. Unfortunately, no one knows if such damages are permanent or if they will bite you back in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time so I do recommend every precaution. I was a smoker pre COVID-19 but I had to quit from the day I tested positive. Now, it would be suicidal for me to smoke a cigarette, as I still feel I am smoking a packet a day!
How did you spend time during quarantine?
It all depended on how I woke up. There were times where I just needed to sleep most of the day but there were moments where I had to lay down and watch a movie or part of it since nausea didn’t leave me with much options. The best cure however is to be in constant contact with your loved ones or friends by video calling them on a daily basis. Being alone is not the best scenario one would hope for, so being surrounded by people was the best solution.
Do you have any advice to give to our readers?
Unfortunately, people are not realising the impact this virus can have both physically and mentally. It would be inappropriate to say that one has to go through this ordeal to better understand what I mean, so my honest advice would be to, please, be careful where you go, wear masks, sanitise your hands and surfaces often. Let’s all do our part as it’s the only way we can get rid of this virus. I also encourage employers to help as much as they can by embracing remote working. Whatever your grade, your position or situation, doing your part will have a domino effect.
What other comments do you have to share about the experience?
Without any doubt this was the worst experience we have ever encountered. Luckily, my mum, wife and I have survived it and my son remained negative all the way. Besides a couple of repercussions I am still experiencing, the impact and damage it caused us psychologically is devastating. We have become paranoid and struggle with anxiety. This experience has changed the way we think, how we look at things and people. It has helped us in a way to appreciate each other more but on the other hand, we are now more scared than ever. We are not going to restaurants but simply enjoy short walks alone. Luckily both my wife’s and my employer have been very supportive and gave us the opportunity to work remotely thus limiting our exposure out there. As for the rest, being an actor myself, I had to quit for the same reason, to limit my exposure. This experience might not sound so scary or else people may think that the virus is not a killer. Well you are wrong. The psychological damage is irreparable for starters, especially for kids. It can also be deadly for vulnerable people like my mother or myself today since I am still struggling with the after-effects. Let us all please do our part and respect each other by wearing masks. No one can magically help us to get rid of this virus but collectively yes, we can by respecting all the protocols and not be selfish. Today it was me and my family but next time it could be you or your family.
During the time I was positive, it made me realise how precious life is. It made me realise that I need to spend as much time as possible with my loved ones. We only have one life and need to make the most of it. I had to quit a lot of hobbies and I don’t regret it, as I can dedicate all my free time to my son, especially now that I realised how much he was longing for our ‘us’ time.