Covid, three years on: ‘I was the only one to walk out of hospital alive’

This thing was very real. And it killed many people.

When I hear antivaxxers and other conspiracy theorists call Covid a “hoax”, I get so mad. That’s because I was there and I nearly died from something these people say was “just a flu”…

Because I have an existing condition, I have always been careful about looking after myself. But somehow, I must have picked it up from a visitor to our home over a weekend in 2020. This was, of course, before the vaccines were available and, as it is clear now, when the virus was at its strongest and most deadly.

I started feeling as though I was running out of breath and, thankfully, my wife insisted on rushing me to hospital, even though, at that time, my blood oxygen saturation levels were still satisfactory. But those numbers began to plunge and I was admitted and immediately placed on oxygen and other treatments.

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I spent two weeks in hospital in what I can honestly say was the worst experience of my life. My oxygen number fell to the 60s, which, as any medical person will tell you, is an almost certain one-way ticket to the morgue.

In my room, there were three other men with Covid. I was the only one to walk out of hospital alive – and for that miracle I am eternally grateful. There was one fellow patient who seemed to be on the mend, laughing and chatting to the nurses and he suddenly began to scream out for help because he couldn’t breathe.

Then they pulled a curtain around his bed – and less than two hours later he was wheeled out of there with a sheet over his face. I have never come so close to death and the doctors told me I should not really have survived.

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Even as the disease was dragging me down, I couldn’t help but think of my family and what might become of them after I was gone. This thing was very real. And it killed many people.

In my home town in KwaZulu-Natal, I know many people who got Covid and died, either in hospital or at home. So please don’t tell me it was all a lie. That is an insult to my suffering and the suffering of my family – and it is an insult to all of those people who died. We must never forget them…

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