Today, a year ago, I woke up and went for a run. Fifteen minutes into the run, I was gasping. I came back and tried a simple mobility workout. I could barely stand up.
I went back and collapsed in bed. Two hours later, the test results were back. I was diagnosed with the Delta-variant of Covid.
I thought I was fit. Yet, for the next 10 days, I could barely get up. I drove to hospitals almost in a hazy fog. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been driving at all. It’s only my trusty car that I believe took me. That and the empty roads of Bangalore then.
Excruciating tiredness was the only ‘symptom’ I had then of Covid, apart from a raspy throat. I couldn’t rest as I wanted to, and I paid the price for it later.
For months, I had long Covid after that. My brain was foggy. I couldn’t remember simple words. I could barely speak. Emotionally, Covid wreaked havoc. Old memories tumbled out of the mind’s closet. Old pain. Buried trauma. I couldn’t focus. Couldn’t work for months.
Physically, I had one weird side-effect after another. From marathon-level fitness, my body plummeted to “can’t run 5km fitness.” I had high sodium levels, making me glug 4 liters of water every day. When I ran, my heart pounded. My lungs struggled to keep pace.
A year later, I still can’t run a full marathon. My Vo2 Max has improved from 41 after Covid to 47, but long, aerobic activities are still challenging. I get tired faster. My cognitive capacity is at about 60%.
The thing is: Covid is real. Long Covid is real. I see now people who get the milder version of Covid foolish enough to think that this is like a “natural” vaccine. “At least I got it, and now I can get on with my life” seems to be the thinking. I can’t tell you how wrong they are.
No one has any idea how this virus is going to behave. We are only now seeing tentative results of how the virus has even changed our brain. You may have heard reports of highly conditioned athletes collapsing from a heart attack after a bout of Covid. The long-term effects of this are still unknown, irrespective of whether you have the Delta, Omicron, or whatever variant you get in the future. It will take a while to understand it.
Which is why I hope you never get it.
And if you do, please don’t act cocky and ignore the rest this virus demands. A friend of mine in London thought she was feeling “fine,” and stepped out after 5 days (In the UK, it wasn’t mandatory to self-isolate). It took her 15 days to recover after that. 😀
Get the vaccine. Get the booster. Wear a mask. Until this is over.
And whatever you do, don’t be foolish enough to underestimate this. Not yet.
Meanwhile, I look back on this day, and I can’t describe my feelings. Yet. There’s sunshine outside today. A blue yet hazy sky in Bangalore. A slice of light falls on the floor, its patterns weaving a dance on the rug. I walk up to the window, wipe the dust off the grills, and stand there. I stare out at this world: this precious world of ours. The dust goes. The light fades. In the end, you are left with you.
And that’s so precious. This dancing cell of our body. This magnificent reservoir of our mind.
You are here. I am here. For this moment, it’s ok. Life is.