August 21, 2020 | Friday

Marzia: I overcame Covid after a lot of pain, so please take all measures and protect your health

An Italian homemaker, Marzia M recovered from her COVID-19 infection following a long recovery period. She wishes to tell her story because she believes it would help other people – including individuals from other countries. Marzia contracted the COVID-19 virus during the first few days of the lockdown – along with the rest of her family. When describing her physical symptoms, she says, “It began with some general discomfort that progressed to lumbosciatica and neuralgia, during which time I experienced severe pain – even in my teeth. I know my body, and for me to be experiencing this much pain was just so strange. I called my family doctor, who prescribed me some cortisone.” However, Marzia’s pain did not subside, and when the dry cough and fever began setting in at the end of March, she suspected that it might be the COVID-19 virus, and approached her doctor. “My doctor didn’t believe me, and asked me how I could have caught the virus – which I thought was a ridiculous question, seeing as it was clear by March that asymptomatic transmissions had been occurring!” Marzia was unaccustomed to the debilitating fever she was experiencing, and the treatment provided by her family doctor did little to alleviate her symptoms. When Marzia’s daughter requested their family doctor for a COVID-19 swab test, she was told that it was not easily available as, at the time, everyone was asking to be tested. “In the end, it was the town mayor who succeeded in getting us tested in my home. By the time they came to test me, my situation had already worsened, and I decided to make my way to a hospital even before receiving my COVID-19 test results. At the hospital, after being diagnosed with COVID-19, I was told that my condition was serious; in just a few days, my husband was hospitalised as well, and although my entire family tested positive for the virus – only my husband and I fell ill.”

Doctors at the hospital informed Marzia’s relatives that her condition was critical, and that her lungs were almost completely compromised, “Soon after, my husband and I were intubated and mechanically ventilated. We were in a lot of pain throughout the 18 days at the hospital’s intensive care unit, which was followed by a one-month stay in the Resuscitation Unit. The doctors and medics who treated us were not only highly capable and professional, but they were also very kind and gentle with us. After we had our intubations removed, conditions began improving for me.” When asked how she might have contracted the virus, Marzia says, “Probably from my daughter, who, although asymptomatic, tested positive for COVID-19. I’m convinced that that must have been how I was infected, as I had been wearing masks and using gloves even before Italy’s lockdown was in place, after which I left the house no more than a couple of times.” Following her experience, Marzia feels that she should offer some advice to public authorities and countries dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic: “First and foremost, family doctors should not be left without support. My family doctor could not help me during the first few days of my illness because overwhelmed with patients. The doctor who treated me also did not have very much experience, as she was young. Given this situation, I think something should be done so as to help doctors provide remote support services for their patients. Secondly, mayors and local authorities are invaluable sources of support; in my case, the mayor not only helped me get tested, but also continued offering assistance to my children, as he knew that they were home alone while their parents were being hospitalised. As for hospitals, these institutions are at the front line of this ongoing emergency and they need all the help they can get, so that medical professionals can continue helping patients while still protecting themselves from getting infected. Not only was my medical team excellent at their jobs, they also provided us with invaluable psychological support, for which I cannot thank them enough – in fact, I even threw them a special ‘thank you’ dinner! These professionals keep working for hours and hours while garbed in protective vests that are extremely uncomfortable, and even using the toilet proves to be a challenge for them.” Marzia also has some advice for ordinary citizens like herself, who are constantly at risk of being exposed to COVID-19, “Face masks are important! More importantly, remember to maintain a social distance of at least one meter – if not more. Avoid crowds, and explain the pandemic to younger individuals, as they may not understand the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, if it makes you feel safer, use gloves… but the most important thing, regardless if you choose to wear gloves or not, is to always wash your hands before touching your mouth and eyes.”