Me? COVID-19? How? - Allison shares her story

24/08/2020

COVID-19 hit Nelson Mandela University Events Manager Allison Olivier hard in July, as treatment for the illness was further complicated, due to an ongoing blood-clotting disorder. 

Although she is now back at work, it was physically and emotionally gruelling for Allison, her husband Russell and their son Max, only five years old.  She shares her story with resilience and humour.

Body aches, a pounding headache and a tight feeling in my throat saw my GP send me for a COVID-19 test on Tuesday, 14 July. I was nervous, as I had heard how uncomfortable it can be. A nurse in a hazmat suit walked up to my vehicle, checked I was the correct person and then asked me to open my mouth wide and keep my tongue down. In went this long thin testing swab. I gagged but am thankful that I did not vomit.

I received my results the same day (lucky me) but when my GP told me I had tested positive for COVID-19, I went into a mini state of shock.

Me? COVID-19? How? We sanitised, wore our masks and practised social distancing. I made trips to the shops for groceries and that was about it. I had been working from home since lockdown started.

After taking a few minutes to process, I told my family. I needed to explain everything to Max, in particular, as he and Russell would need to quarantine with me. Neither were presenting any symptoms and I prayed it remained that way.

The next day I woke up with extreme body aches, a headache, a dry cough and a snotty nose. My GP and a haematologist recommended a blood test for my blood-clotting condition but, as I was a COVID-19 positive case, I couldn’t simply walk into a facility to have blood drawn.

So, I had to drive myself to hospital and a staff member had to come to my vehicle and draw my blood, in the parking lot. We had a giggle over that!

Added complications

My GP called later with my blood results and prescribed five days of Clexane injections for my slightly raised D-dimer levels. I had to inject myself in my tummy – oh boy, this was going to be fun!

I watched a video or two and did what my GP instructed. I thought it would be easy, but I was wrong. Do I jab it in? Push it in gently?

And it bruised! At the end of it all Max could have drawn a dot-to-dot picture on my tummy.

By this stage, I was confined to my bedroom but would venture out every now and then, with my mask on, to sit in the sun for about 20 minutes.

Two nurses visited on Thursday, 16 July, and questioned Russell for close on 30 minutes. They also checked I was in my own bedroom, with my own bathroom, with the door closed. It was very extensive.

Apparently, if they were not happy they would take me to a quarantine facility for the 14 days. I completely freaked out, there was no way I was going to leave my family for 14 days.

‘I needed them near me’

I needed them near me and, even though Max couldn’t come near, he needed me too. They were the reason I was fighting this horrid virus.

That evening when it was time for Max to go to sleep, he cried as he wanted to hug and kiss me goodnight. I also just burst into tears.

However, I never received that phone call so and I assume they were satisfied.

I longed for a cuddle from Max. At night, we would tap our toes together and our elbows as our way of saying goodnight.

All I could do was watch Netflix and Showmax on my laptop, read and try to sleep. I really battled with sleep and ate purely to fill the feeling of hunger.

In addition as I was starting to feel slightly better I noticed a sign of a possible blood clot: a sensitive spot on my leg which felt like someone had given me a “lummy”. I immediately went and did the worst thing – check Dr Google! I panicked and phoned my GP. She re-assured me but did extend the course of injections.

Freedom and family

When quarantine was reduced from 14 days to 10 it meant Saturday 25 July was Day 11 and the day I could be reunited with my family. Freedom!

I asked Russell to photograph the moment I got to hug Max as I wanted to treasure it.

I got on my knees and Max ran into my arms. I burst into tears, it felt so surreal (of course, Russ got lots of love too). I was totally overcome with emotion and it was a while before I could compose myself. 

This virus is horrid as apart from the physical aspects, it takes its toll on you mentally. I had to give myself pep talks, my mantras were:

  • Die Rona, you b####!
  • Be positive, be positive, be positive.

I was lucky enough to have the most amazing husband who juggled work, Max (school work included), chores and more as well as amazing friends who dropped off meals and treats. I will be eternally grateful to them.

Even though I still can’t taste or smell properly, I feel like a human again. I get to be around my loved ones and that for me is enough as I reach the final stretch to full recovery!