A somewhat surreal experience at the specialist this afternoon yielded some mostly good news.
Surreal because the whole place looked like a building site, there was no receptionist, the doc himself looked like he had just finished working in his garden on a weekend, and the entire episode was accompanied by some energetic jazz funk on the radio. Then the previous patient – still clutching his fresh urine sample in one hand – asked if I could spare him R5 for parking. He was wearing a Liverpool shirt, so I took pity on him and gave him the money. In his other hand.
But once I was in the practice room, thankfully things were a bit more normal. Nice guy.
Let’s get the not so good bit over with first: no magic pill, no quick fix, no guaranteed timeline of escaping these crappy symptoms. That “you really just need to be patient,” line again, which seems to be the (admittedly justified) mantra for this thing. And a few more blood tests (LFTs, Cortisol etc.), just to check that the Covid symptoms aren’t hiding any other nasties. We’re all pretty sure that they’re not.
But mostly good news because – having had an ultrasound of my heart, a resting ECG and done some treadmilling (I got up to 6kph on a slight upward slope, for a whole 150 seconds!!) – I have permission to begin exercising again.
My heart is good and strong, I have no blood clots and my lungs are almost repaired. It’s just the rest of me that is completely broken and needs some work. So not klapping the gym, boet quite yet (it’s an absolute haven for Covid infections anyway), but a walk a day, increasing my pace and increasing my distance each week.
He stressed that he seen a number of patients who simply don’t seem to understand quite what a blow Covid has dealt them. The idea that once the acute symptoms have gone, you can go back to normal, just isn’t true. One also needs to recognise the regression that the infection has caused.
“You’re running 100m, but you’re starting 50m behind the starting blocks,” was his analogy.
Longest 100m ever.
Anyway, without putting any firm timeline on it, there was mention of six months (from now) to maybe get back to where I was. I almost cried. Six months might seem like a long while, but honestly, there have been a lot of times when I didn’t think I would ever get back there. And maybe I won’t. Or maybe it will take 3 months.
But there’s hope, and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and so I’ve set myself a goal: I’m going to run 5km in 30 minutes with my son on his birthday next year.
That will be more than 9 months to get myself back to normality after this “mild” infection, assuming this all goes to plan. So let me just drop the message in here once again that you can increase your chances of avoiding all this shit, simply by getting vaccinated. Incidentally, my doc thinks that the timing of my first vaccine dose might just have been the thing that kept me out of hospital. Thanks be to Pfizer.
I have already taken the beagle on a celebratory trip around the block, and so now I am ready for bed, but it doesn’t matter.
This has been a good day.