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How Covid-19 attacked my central nervous system: Sam Plaatjies shares his story

4 December 2020 12:43 PM
Tags:
Sam plaatjies
COVID-19
Covid-19 complications

Memory loss. Difficulty talking. Loss of muscle control. Cape Town resident Sam Plaatjies describes how Covid-19 led to a rare autoimmune disorder of the nervous system.

Most people who fall sick with Covid-19 experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover without special treatment.

Sam Plaatjies, a senior employee at the Department of Home Affairs, tested positive for Covid-19 in July and he is still recovering from the neurological complications triggered by the virus.

He tells CapeTalk's Refilwe Moloto about his ordeal and sketches a timeline of events:

Plaatjies received his positive Covid-19 test results on Tuesday 20 July. At the time, he had a high fever.

But a few days later, on Saturday 25 July, he was admitted to hospital after experiencing difficulty breathing.

Imagine thinking where your next breath will be coming from... That was the point I was at when I was admitted to hospital.

Sam Plaatjies, Western Cape District Coordinator - Department of Home Affairs

Staff at the Louis Leipoldt Mediclinic in Bellville put him on oxygen support. Three days later, on Tuesday 28 July, he was released from the hospital but felt "extremely weak and fatigued".

On Sunday 2 August, he woke up with muscle spasms and slurred speech. He was taken back to the hospital where his health rapidly deteriorated.

I experienced what I can only explain as a muscle disorder... I felt constant, uncontrolled muscle jerks.. Almost as if I had had a stroke... At this point, my speech was affected and becoming more slurred.

Sam Plaatjies, Western Cape District Coordinator - Department of Home Affairs

When speaking with someone, I experienced something like memory loss... I almost lost all ability to speak.

Sam Plaatjies, Western Cape District Coordinator - Department of Home Affairs

MRI scans detected no abnormalities. Doctors performed two lumbar puncture procedures to test his spinal fluid. The test results came back clear.

He was placed on anti-viral treatment for two weeks while he was in an isolated ward. His condition still did not improve.

Plaatjies was transferred to a neurological ward at the Panorama Mediclinic in mid-August.

That's where a neurologist diagnosed him with a very rare condition called Opsoclonus-myoclonus-ataxia syndrome.

Often referred to as OMAS, it's a rare disorder that affects the nervous system. It can be triggered by a viral infection.

Plaatjies has warned people to take the coronavirus seriously and not to ignore safety precautions.

I ended up having to re-learn to talk and walk and stand or balance.

Sam Plaatjies, Western Cape District Coordinator - Department of Home Affairs

Covid-19 is not a myth. It's not a conspiracy theory as many people would like it to be, nor is it a "normal fever". It's not like that.

Sam Plaatjies, Western Cape District Coordinator - Department of Home Affairs

Listen to Sam Plaatjies share his story on Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto:


4 December 2020 12:43 PM
Tags:
Sam plaatjies
COVID-19
Covid-19 complications

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