Chronicles of Corona
It is a truth universally acknowledged that any disease ever described in medical literature can manifest itself as generalized weakness and fatigue. I shall not be at fault for speculating these symptoms as the most ubiquitous terms in any textbook of clinical medicine. These two go hand in hand just like tea and biscuits, paws and claws, brown-nosing and opportunity. Owing to their theoretically pervasive nature and since these are not tell-tale symptoms of a specific illness, stating them as an answer to a viva question (medical students, please make note) or even presenting them as a patient's chief complaint is met with little regard.
After spending sixteen days in isolation, I had expected to have fully recovered. After all, it is natural to trust years (two makes plural) of healthy eating and strength-training to have granted me a head start on the path to recovery. However, enveloped in wishful thinking, I had forgotten the theme of the current year: shocking. It was not considered odd when at first, I could not go by for longer than three hours without an urge to nap. It was obviously a classic case of procrastination and with an exam upcoming, we all know that studying is the most potent sedative out there. The realization that something is unusual hit as I climbed down the stairs on my first day back at university. My knees felt wobbly and weak, as if at any second they would buckle and give way. I slowed my pace and fixated my gaze on the steps, like a two-year-old, to prevent fall.
As the day progressed, the need to lie down intensified but remained unmet. It gradually morphed into generalized body aches, shrouding my body as if I had draped on a heavy blanket. Sitting down did not ease the aching of my legs. Eventually towards the end of the day, a feeling of fever had set in, signaling the pinnacle of debility. At this time, I felt a sensation that my arm would self-detach from its socket and drop like Mr. Potato Head's parts (from Toy story). Fortunately, that did not happen. College campuses should consider establishing a few resting nooks on the grounds, maybe with a couple of hammocks or sleeping bags, for weary bodies like mine suffering from post-COVID fatigue. Yoga mats would do just as well, considering we live in a resource limited setting.
One does not know true fatigue unless they have experienced post-COVID fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, or fibromyalgia. The exhaustion is incomparable to the kind incurred on 16+ hour workdays or on post-call days. There is no respite since post-COVID fatigue does not yield to rest, caffeine, or analgesia. Perhaps the biggest shift of reality was that sleep is no longer the remedy for all woes. The “generalized" in generalized weakness refers to the anatomical non-specificity of the weakness yet is subconsciously implied as a customary prevalence of the symptom itself. There is nothing usual, ordinary, or generic about generalized weakness. If anything, it should be called global weakness to ensure that due concern is garnered.
COVID-19 is unforgiving, yet it can make some seek forgiveness for the smallest of tasks. I had to apologize to a good deal of people for lagging in my commitments and responsibilities. For two weeks since the end of my isolation, all conversation began with “I am sorry, but I had COVID….".
I was sorry for not being able to carry on with a research project.
I was sorry for not being fit to hang out with friends (with the SOPs in place).
I was sorry for refusing to play tag with my cat.
And I was sorry for requesting a minute's break amidst delivering a presentation to catch my breath.
Apologizing for a sickness that cannot be certified felt illegal, wrongly so. Fatigue, myalgias and malaise are symptoms that cannot be seen, heard, or quantified. They can only be felt by the sufferer whose narrations are taken with a pinch of salt and assumed to be smeared with subjectivity.
As cliched as it sounds, every cloud does have a silver lining, however weak or brief it may be. Justifiably, I have been exempted from all household chores, and I shall try my best that it remains that way (shhh!).
DISCLAIMER: Copyright belongs to the author. This blog cannot be held responsible for events bearing overt resemblance to any actual occurrences. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of CCIT or AKU.
About the Author
Having a penchant towards learning new words, Mehdia feels that the words "Perception" and "Juxtaposition" enjoy distinguished seniority amongst others in the English language, a bias that is apparent in her writing. She likes bossing around, cooking food that her mom frowns upon, making sassy remarks, crossing intangible boundaries and preferring cats over human babies. Currently, a 5th year medical student at The Aga Khan University, she aspires to become a jack of all trades by having an interdisciplinary career.