'I couldn’t breathe': Covid-19 survivor has a message to share with SA
“You can’t let this virus get to you. You’re young. Don’t give up.”
These are the words Amy Louw remembers hearing a doctor say while she lay in the Brackengate Hospital of Hope intermediate care facility with severe Covid-19 symptoms.
Louw, who works as an admin clerk at a local motoring company, has spoken about her battle to overcome the coronavirus during a 10-day stay in the field hospital.
As the Western Cape heads towards the peak of a second wave of infections, with some hospitals operating at more than 100% of capacity, she has advice to share: “Please stay home if you can. Be safe. Wear your mask."
In a statement released by the provincial health department on Wednesday, Louw said: “I was healthy before Covid-19 and I was so cautious.”
She started feeling sick on November 25.
“I didn’t think I had Covid-19. I was hoping it would just be flu. I was at work when I started to feel sick. I had headaches, coughed a lot and had phlegm on my chest. I could still taste and smell. It became bad the next day. My taste went away and I couldn’t smell. I was sent home."
She received her positive result on November 28.
In the days that followed she self-medicated at home, but had to be taken to hospital on December 2.
“When I woke up on that Wednesday morning, I was OK, but by 11am I couldn’t breathe at all. My sister phoned the ambulance and they came to get me.
"I was so scared. It was really bad. I panicked. When the ambulance arrived they provided me with oxygen and I felt OK. This is the first time in my life I had to receive oxygen support.”
Louw said she did not realise how many people were already sick at the time.
“I first went to Mediclinic Panorama but was later transferred to Brackengate Hospital of Hope. I was surprised to see so many other people who had Covid-19, like me. It was scary.”
Mentally, the road to recovery was not easy.
“I was laying there and looked at the people around me. There were so many old people. It’s very hard to fight Covid-19. All we can do is fight it and do our best to keep positive.
“At first, I remember feeling weak and I didn’t want to help myself, but then I pushed myself. I’d say: ‘Don’t give up, you can overcome.’ I remember a doctor told me: ‘You can’t let this virus get to you. You’re young. Don’t give up.’”
Louw said she found comfort in prayer and speaking to family members via video calls.
“The doctors and nurses checked on me every 30 minutes. I could ask them anything and they’d do it. They helped me to recover and supported me during this scary journey,” she said.
Louw spent five days on oxygen support.
“I just started praying. I prayed my way through Covid-19.
“On the sixth day, I’d recovered well enough for the oxygen to be turned off and realised I could breathe on my own again. It was such a happy moment. Before that, I would take 10 steps and I was out of breath.”
After being discharged, a small effort like taking a shower left her out of breath, but her energy levels are slowly returning to normal and she will spend Christmas with family.
Getting ill has changed her perspective about socialising.
“I live with my parents and siblings. My other family members have not visited yet, but we keep in touch via video calls and messaging.
“Remember, it’s not necessary to go to events. Things are really bad out there with this virus.
“Please stay home if you can. Be safe. Wear your mask and keep 1.5m from other people if you have to go out. Wear your masks, and not only around your mouth - it must cover your nose too. This virus is terrible, and we need to be safe.”