It has been more than five months since Calis Bruckmann tested positive for Covid-19 and the industrial designer, 29, is still grappling with the after-effects. Bruckmann tested positive for Covid-19 in June. When The Citizen first spoke to him in July, about four and a half weeks later, he was still struggling with a headache, ringing in his ears and general fatigue. This week, he was doing better – but only somewhat. “I’ve still got severe ringing in my ears. It’s very intense at night especially and sometimes it becomes almost disorienting and makes it difficult for me to concentrate,”…
It has been more than five months since Calis Bruckmann tested positive for Covid-19 and the industrial designer, 29, is still grappling with the after-effects.
Bruckmann tested positive for Covid-19 in June. When The Citizen first spoke to him in July, about four and a half weeks later, he was still struggling with a headache, ringing in his ears and general fatigue. This week, he was doing better – but only somewhat.
“I’ve still got severe ringing in my ears. It’s very intense at night especially and sometimes it becomes almost disorienting and makes it difficult for me to concentrate,” he said. “My energy levels are also still very low and I’m
on medication to get them up.”
Bruckmann has been to see a number of doctors and specialists but no one has been able to give him any answers.
“The scariest thing is when everyone says you’re perfectly healthy,” he said.
But he also said he had made a conscious decision to, as far as possible, not let his physical health affect him mentally.
“I would have gone crazy a long time ago otherwise,” he said.
From fitness fanatic to being in constant pain
Phillip Duncan, a 46-year old former school hockey coach returned to his Roodepoort home after a long visit to Cape Town in early March, feeling under the weather.
An avid runner and hiking fanatic, Duncan didn’t suspect that his lower energy levels and mild migraine was linked to the Covid-19 pandemic which had already spread to South Africa.
“I remember waking up one morning, feeling like a heavy weight was on my chest and I couldn’t take in enough air. So obviously that made me panic because I’m not a smoker and it actually felt as though I had been running so fast that I needed to catch my breath but I couldn’t because I was just defeated, my body was in pain,’ he recalls.
At the time, the availability of Covid-19 tests, even privately, was scant and expensive.
Suspecting it was probably just a ‘ really bad flu’, the married father of two teens, spent the next few weeks at home and isolated, hoping he was on the mend.
It was only while visiting his GP two months later that the penny dropped. By then, the fear and the virus had swept the nation enough for him to suggest to his doctor that he may have caught the virus.
“The reason I went to seek medical help is because after I seemed to recover, I still found myself unable to run or even walk as much in the mornings. I also noticed that my sense of taste and smell were mostly gone long after the so-called recovery.
Though exercise was known to be part of the healing process, Duncan had to swap his dumbbells for a yoga mat, and stick to a lighter regime. Permanent damage to his lungs meant that running, for even shorter distances was a mammoth task. Nerve damage he suffered during the illness means he may never taste or smell again, although experts have yet to determine whether these long-term side effects were permanent.
“It really pains me because I love nothing more than taking my body to its limits, whether it’s the outdoors or gym. It was odd to think that even someone as tall and big as I am, could get so badly damaged by this disease. But I’ve had to accept that some of the effects of this disease may never go away.”
Mental health needed to carry on
Another Covid-19 survivor emphasised the importance of the mental strength required to overcome the virus, which has claimed nearly 21 000 lives in SA.
“The mental strength required to survive this is huge and, fortunately, I am strong mentally and that gave motivation to my wife and daughter – that if papa looks like this, we can survive [because] he is not as bad as we think he is,” Ramohemi Motshegoa said.
Motshegoa was speaking at a virtual briefing by the Gauteng government, Surviving Covid-19: The Journey of Defeating Covid-19, in September.
Although Motshegoa put on a brave face for his family while fighting the virus in isolation at home, it was one of the worst experiences of his life.
“On the fifth day, I began the Panado programme because I was feeling very cold on my back from the neck downwards.
“It got worse. Every night I would change pyjamas four to five times because they were wet, as if they were coming from the bucket of water or something.”
He slowly felt he was beginning to recover but on the eighth day, he questioned whether he could truly survive the virus.
“I felt some very painful experience around my kidneys and I thought this is what they mean when they say, once your kidneys collapse you are dead. Fortunately I didn’t, but the pain was extreme and bad,” he said.
Motshegoa kept his diagnosis private. “I also decided that no one else should know that I am ill. As I am the pillar of strength of my family, it was going to create problems for everyone. The reaction I anticipated would be that everyone would be devastated.”
Although Motshegoa’s family has had to make adjustments, he is happy to be alive. “I finally got cured. Right now my family and I are living on multivitamins.
“I am okay now, I’m alive and kicking, working from home.”
– email@example.com with additional reporting by News24Wire
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