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SA journalist describes long-haul Covid-19 symptoms after nearly two months

11 August 2020 10:57 AM

Journalist and author Haji Mohamed Dawjee describes ongoing pain, fatigue, fogginess, lack of concentration and forgetfulness.

Much is made of the Covid-19 recovery statistics but not as much about the sometimes long-lasting effects now being diagnosed that the virus has on the body long after 'recovery'.

Journalist and author Haji Mohamed Dawjee talks to Refilwe Moloto about her month-long fight against post-Covid syndrome and the lasting effects of this invasive and destructive virus.

In Haji's case, she has had symptoms that have continued long after the 14-day time period in which most are meant to recover.

I'm ok, I just get out of breath really quickly and I'm out of breath now because I literally just moved to another room that was quieter.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

I have off days and on days - more off than on.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

My wife reminded me that it has been more than 30 days, it has been 7 weeks now that I have had this.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

What symptoms have persisted after the 14-day period?

She says the symptoms listed on the World Health Organisation website of respiratory problems, lack of smell and taste and a sore throat, are quite minimal compared to her experience.

A lot of the symptoms that she is still experiencing are not highlighted.

I got a cough, which actually turned out to be a secondary bacterial infection from Covid.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

She was prescribed antibiotics for that infection which helped her cough and says she now only has a coughing spell now and then.

Fatigue is a major symptom she is still experiencing.

The fatigue has been a massive, massive issue. Fogginess, lack of concentration, forgetfulness,

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

I'm a writer and I know how to spell a lot of words, but sometimes it can take me half an hour to figure out how to spell a very simple word

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

She also experienced head pain and ear-ringing.

Lots of ear-ringing and it almost makes a person feel like they are going a little bit mad.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

I've had a migraine for almost seven days straight which nothing is helping.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

She has tried countless over-the-counter medications for the pain to no avail. It is not like a normal headache, she says.

The other night I got so desperate I rubbed cannabis oil all over my scalp because I couldn't pinpoint where the pain was coming from

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

Are doctors able to help her?

Well, there is just very little research so the go-to is to take Vitamin D and Vitamin B and Zinc and Magnesium and Vitamin C - and I think I am up to about 14 pills a day. That includes my chronic medication for anxiety and depression which is also now through the roof because it's not nice not knowing how you are going to feel moment to moment.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

She says she has joined a number of international groups and forums online for people suffering from the same post-Covid symptoms.

I have not found a South African forum yet, but they help us all feel our way through this together.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

She says there is movement in countries such as the United Kingdom to fund research into the neurological symptoms resulting from Covid-19.

She is young and fit and so not the demographic that has been suggested by health bodies.

But proper research is now showing that fitter, younger people who have not been hospitalised or suffered the 14-day symptoms as badly, tend to suffer from long-haul Covid a bit more.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

She cites a friend in the health sector in the UK who has had it for over 100 days and has developed arthritis in her knee. Ther are reports of some people losing their eyesight, she adds.

All these developmental things are coming out and doctors don't have answers, and I get that because we don't have enough information to know what the long-term effects are.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

Have her symptoms improved over the 7 weeks?

She says the fatigue, delirium and confusion is not as constant as it was.

But there is no way of telling when it is just going to hit you. I can have a morning where I am totally functional and cleaning the house and then by 11 am I am just out for the count, and I can't do anything and my body feels like concrete.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Journalist, author and long-term Covid-19 sufferer

She also describes ongoing pain from her neck down to her ankles.

Despite having tested her oxygen levels and lungs which are both healthy, she still gets shortness of breath.

Listen to the conversation with Haji Mohamed Dawjee below:


11 August 2020 10:57 AM

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