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Anna Lee found herself in the ICU after receiving a positive test result; she shared her harrowing experience and hopes to inspire others with her story.


South Africa (16 August 2021) – Anna Lee found herself fighting for her life in the ICU with a Covid-19 diagnosis. She went from feeling normal one day to too sick to lift her arms the next.

Anna penned her entire experience, which we will be sharing here on Good Things Guy, in three parts. The first two can be found below. Anna wanted to give a look at what happens inside the ICU Covid-19 wards and how she found her strength to pull through.

Part 1 – Covid Positive and Admitted to Hospital

On 08 June 2021, I went for a Covid test. I was nervous but so sure that it wasn’t Covid. I took all the necessary precautions like sanitising and face masks etc. And with most of our family 2 hours away, we hardly ever socialise.

On 09 June 2021, I got the dreaded call from the doctor “you are Covid positive.” I was scared as I have asthma, but the doctor sent medicine from their pharmacy for me to take. Luckily my husband was home that day, and we started our self-quarantine. On this day, I felt a slight tightness to my chest and fatigue.

Over the following 6 days my symptoms varied. One day I would feel almost 100% fine, and the next, I would be really, really sick. On days 5 and 6, I started with cold fever (chills), which were the worst symptoms at the time for me. It would start suddenly and so fast that my hands and feet were ice-cold, and it would take an hour or more to pass. In between, I took the meds the doctor sent and used the nebulizer 3 times a day to help me breathe easier.

On day 7, 15 June, I woke up and did not feel good at all. Diarrhea had started, and I was out of breath just by walking a few steps. I couldn’t speak more than 2 words without taking a breath, and it was a very short one as I couldn’t take deep breaths. I also had extreme muscle fatigue. It was an effort to just raise an arm. That’s where I told my husband I think we need to go to the hospital.

So we packed my bag, thinking maybe 2 or 3 days I just need some oxygen. Went to the trauma entrance, and they told us to go around to the ambulance entrance as that’s where they take Covid patients. It’s a huge gate that leads into what looks like a dark New York-style alley. We waited for about 2 minutes when a nurse came to fetch me. I was too weak to carry my own bag, so she had to carry it. And Chris couldn’t come along. That’s where we had to say goodbye as he wasn’t allowed inside.

They got me onto a trauma bed and oxygen immediately and started taking my stats. I was almost hypoxic, which means my oxygen levels were so low that I wasn’t getting enough oxygen to my cells and organs. They gave me this green mask with a balloon thing at the bottom of the mask and 15 litres of oxygen. It helped a bit, but I was scared, alone and not sure what was going to happen.

They then put me in a wheelchair with an oxygen cylinder as they need to do a chest X-ray and CAT scan of my lungs, and they also took blood to get tested. My x-ray and scan came back showing severe scarring and inflammation on my lungs, and my blood showed that my infection levels was at 270 (around there), but it should be 5. They started admitting me to hospital, and I waited about 4 hours for a bed before they took me up to the Covid ward.

Part 2 – The Covid Ward

After the 4 hours of waiting, they wheeled me up to the Covid wards, which is closed off from other wards with red tape and plastic sheets hanging from the roof.

I got a into my room and bed and met my 3 roommates. We all got along great and spent some time sharing our stories. I had a drip put in, and after about 3 days (17 June) of meds and oxygen, I had more energy so could get out bed easier. But I had started to cough up blood mixed with phlegm. Too much movement would cause me to start coughing again. The doctor adjusted my meds and said I had Covid Pneumonia.

I spent a lot of my time sitting in one of the chairs as I just can’t sit in bed for too long. I needed oxygen, though, to go to the bathroom, so I had to call a nurse for assistance. They would then connect your oxygen to an oxygen cylinder and escort you to the bathroom. And then the one night, the cylinder I had ran out of oxygen. I made my way back to my bed, which I can’t remember, and crashed into my bedside table but luckily didn’t fall. My mind was so confused from lack of oxygen that I had forgotten about the panic button in the bathroom. My roommates called a nurse, who quickly put me back on oxygen. They ran out of oxygen cylinders every few days and couldn’t keep up with the demand. So I asked them for an extended oxygen tube which I called my leash. It allowed me to go to and from the bathroom while staying on oxygen and didn’t need to use the oxygen cylinders.

There aren’t enough nurses. The Covid wards are full. People are sick, really sick and all of these nurses are overworked. They cannot be everywhere at once. They even have trainee nurses there to help with smaller stuff. All of them wear the required PPE, so you only ever saw their eyes through the plastic visor they wear. But they were always friendly and tried to be helpful. Sometimes they took too long to get to us if we called them. But I understood as there are only so many of them, and every bed in that ward is filled. They are on day 6 or 7 of working overtime; they are exhausted, scared, and yet they are there, and they try their best to be friendly and do their job to the best of their abilities.

I stopped coughing up blood and started to get better on the new meds. So the doctor started to wean me from the oxygen by dropping it to 10 litres for a few days, then 8 litres, and eventually we got to 6 litres oxygen. We removed the mask I was using and received a nasal canula, the tube thingy that goes in your nose. Then I had a setback, and my oxygen saturation dropped to 78. It should be 95 or higher, and on 24 June, they put me back on 15 litres of oxygen. This is the highest level of oxygen the Covid wards can give. The doctor told me our lungs sometimes need more time and not to panic.

I also continued experiencing the Covid symptoms and started feeling that extreme fatigue. Not just sleep but also muscle fatigue. My infection rate had gone down from about 270 to 18. That’s a good sign and closer to the 5 it should be. The doctor explained to me that with Covid, it is like a rollercoaster ride, one day up and one day down and could continue for a few months and not to be stressed about it. He also said sometimes our lungs just need more rest and that more oxygen will help the lungs rest more to fight the inflammation.

Sources: Anna Lee – Supplied
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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