I remember when I first read about it the new-age C disease causing flu-like symptoms and pneumonia circulating in China, I had a dreadful feeling about it. With a masters degree in Epidemiology (the study of diseases) and Biostatistics, I instantly knew that a very long incubation period and the ease of transport between countries these days is a recipe for a global disaster. Sure enough, the UAE registered its first cases soon and the spiral of fear and terror began. I know a lot of people around me were taking it lightly, but with a history of allergies and asthma, I did not want to get infected with a respiratory disease whose effects on each person cannot be predicted, and it’s long-term effects still so ambiguous. So I took to extreme measures to exercise control over the situation – my family and I continued a self-imposed lockdown even after the official national one was lifted, and after months of doing that, we minimized contact with others when we did venture outside our home bubble. I was criticized and called out by some, but I did not care – I was prioritizing the safety of my family over everything. The decision to send the kids back to school in September was a tough one, I had become adept at supervising their home-learning and was happy continuing to do that, but as an advocate for mental health, I also knew that they needed to be around their friends and back on more familiar learning grounds. I put my trust in their school’s safety measures and let go of what I cannot control.

With cases soaring in the country and the husband meeting clients for work, the inevitable eventually happened. He tested positive and I knew I was following suit. Sure enough, the worst headache of my life creeped in on me, and when I took a two-hour nap and it was even worse, I knew I have started showing symptoms. In total, I had 3 nights of chills, low-grade fever (38.8 C) and really painful headaches and body aches. I was not prepared for the shortness of breath that came along too, but thankfully my good oxygen saturation gave me comfort, and exactly a week after my symptoms started, the feeling of not being able to breathe deeply lifted. Each day after my fever broke and before I could breathe better, I felt a little bit less pain and a little bit more energy. Anosmia hit right after, and I welcomed it as an attestation to my last few days with covid.

The physical symptoms that accompanied my covid experience were tough, but immeasurable in comparison to my soaring anxiety levels that robbed me of sleep at times. The what-ifs were very loud in my mind, and I did not have the strength to detach myself from my thoughts. The relief I feel now that I am on my last day of isolation and the excitement to be with my kids again tomorrow is immeasurable too; although I do have to say the last couple of days of isolation have been the closest thing to a vacation I can ever get as a mom so grateful for this silver-lining, and the five books I got to read! I am grateful to my body for how it fought, and this experience definitely serves as a reminder to always honor, love and take care of it the best way I can.

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