'When you get Covid-19 you have to fight it on your own, and it's terrifying'
Fear of contracting Covid-19 again is a constant companion for single mom Linda Glieman, 56.
She did, after all, end up in intensive care the two previous times she got infected, despite taking what she thought were adequate safety precautions.
Catching a spot of sun at her home in northern Johannesburg, Glieman said she conscientiously followed all the coronavirus protocols, worked from home, sanitised the groceries - so she was puzzled to wake up with a terrible rash, and pain in her jaw and chest on August 31 last year.
"I thought maybe I was having an allergic reaction to something, and also heart issues run in my family. So at about 4am I decided to go to the hospital to get checked out," she said.
By 9am she was diagnosed with Covid vasculitis, a condition in which the virus attacks the lining of blood vessels, putting the patient at risk of a stroke, and was admitted to Netcare Sunninghill Hospital's ICU.
"They pumped me full of blood thinners and steroids through drips," she said, describing her four-day stay, during which she continued working as a business unit manager for an IT company.
Glieman made a full recovery and got back into mountain biking and long walks.
The second time around she traced her infection to a small outdoor lunch in April. She and three others guests tested positive on May 1, and initially she was treated with vitamins, an ozone drip, cortisone and antibiotics.
A week later she fainted, and was again admitted to Sunninghill's ICU, this time with Covid pneumonia, and put on oxygen.
She was discharged after five days and spent six weeks recovering.
"It's such a very lonely illness. When you get it you have to fight it on your own, and it's terrifying because you don't know if you are the one who won't recover.
"I don't think my story is 'Yay, I caught Covid twice and beat it', but more a case of 'Be very careful people, because this can very easily happen to anyone.' "
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