Op-eds

Not just a little flu

  • ZenKrengel
It began on the first day of July, when I awoke with an unusually severe cough. Six months ago, I would most probably have made light of my condition, and gone into work as usual, but of course, everything has changed completely since then, and I lost no time in contacting my doctor.
by ZEV KRENGEL | Jul 16, 2020

After being tested, I immediately went into quarantine while awaiting the results. They came through 48 hours later, and officially confirmed that I had joined the ranks of more than 288 000 South Africans to date who have contracted COVID-19. What had for so long been a potential danger had become an immediate reality.

The diagnosis didn’t come as a surprise. By then, my condition had worsened considerably, with severe headaches, bodily aches and pains, and an almost total loss of taste and smell (even now not fully restored) adding to the original symptoms.

I was also often abnormally fatigued, so much so that I was unable even to watch TV, let alone do anything mildly strenuous, and I lost a great deal of weight. In subsequent days, it got so bad, I was unable to get out of bed at all.

Things became particularly bad, not to mention frightening, when I found myself battling to breathe, and required a hasty dose of cortisone to approach something approaching normal.

I would stress that I was lucky enough to have fairly mild symptoms of the disease, and in the end, was able to recover at home. Many tens of thousands of other South Africans haven’t been so fortunate.

Through the Hatzolah Wellness Programme, in which infected community members are wherever possible treated in their homes, my oxygen levels and temperature were monitored on a daily basis during the entire two weeks I was in quarantine.

In spite of the staunch and unstinting support I received from them and from the community in general, I nevertheless found myself having to cope pretty much on my own.

Indeed, it’s that enforced solitude quite aside from the actual physical ailments that makes COVID-19 so very difficult to deal with. One has also to continually deal with feelings of anxiety and despondency, to try always to maintain a sense of perspective and not start imagining the worst. Always present is the concern that things might deteriorate to the point that one will require hospitalisation.

Much has been said and written about how vital it is during those times to take whatever steps the medical experts recommend to minimise contracting and spreading the virus, and I can only endorse that.

As for those who, like me, do end up becoming infected, my advice is to listen to what your body is telling you, and don’t try to be a hero.

COVID-19 isn’t just a little flu. It’s debilitating, dangerous, and of course highly contagious. Don’t play around with it, because it certainly isn’t going to play around with you.

  • Zev Krengel is the national vice-president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Emmanuel Diakakis 20 Jul
    Dear Zev

    i don’t know if you remember, I was the Hellenic Section’s chairman before JB.   Dry glad to read about your recovery & please G_D you will be back to normal soon. Thank you for sharing your experience. 

    stay well & safe

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