I contracted COVID not once but twice: once during Diwali 2020, when the first wave was surging in India; the second time towards end May 2021, when second wave was subsiding.
Both times, the question that least occupied my thinking was: ‘How did I contract it?’ I had realised early in the pandemic that the virus wasn’t going away soon, that most of us, if not all of us would be infected by it. Hence the endless debates about isolating, distancing, masking did not preoccupy me.
Instead, I wanted to understand how the virus behaved inside each of our bodies. I saw in myself, friends and a lady who came to me for treatment, the different symptoms, especially the ones that came with long COVID.
Between Apr and May 2021, I volunteered at a transit oxygen site, administering oxygen to about 20-30 COVID positive people each day. Observing and listening to them and their families, I saw how COVID affected all of us sometimes similarly but sometimes completely differently. COVID induced diabetes, blood in cough, mental disorientation, hypoxia, cytokine storm, went from being complicated words to real life observations.
Then there were the long COVID symptoms and effects: skin rashes, hair loss, new diabetes, eye twitches, extreme fatigue, and joint pains.
I was again troubled by ‘why’ we were all experiencing such varied symptoms and effects.
Listening to one’s body
I am a naturopath, so taking any kind of allopathic drug was not an option I gave myself. So I listened and observed deeply to everything that my body was telling me, extending the same listening to everyone else with COVID that I was encountering.
- My first COVID infection was mild, maybe courtesy the variant going around that time. I had a day of fever, followed by loss of smell and taste for 10 days, general weakness, some pain in the legs. I took no medicine, self- isolated and was fine after 2 weeks. The only irritant that continued, was a skin rash, the area around which was dry and itchy. I drank a lot of fluids, did deep breathing and only ate when hungry, things that I knew would help me recover. But the second time I got COVID, my symptoms were more intense. The fever lasted 4-5 days, my throat really hurt, there were joint pains and the skin itch was back. I administered the naturopathy treatments that I knew would cure the symptoms, drank a lot of water and rested.
Unless you have serious kidney condition, always try and flush the virus out. Drink, drink lots of fluids.
2. I am convinced, COVID affects the weakest organs/areas of our bodies.13 year’s back I had a surgery where some bone was removed from my left hip and added to my neck, from where a diseased vertebra had been removed. COVID made my left hip pain come back, something I hadn’t experienced all these years! My right eye twitched for almost a month. I have short-sightedness and have worn glasses for 28 years, right being weaker than left.
Note if old injuries that have flared up, existing conditions that have gotten worse (BP, diabetes, palpitations, nerve pains).
3. I am fairly certain that one of our elimination systems give us the ‘COVID smell’. Either our sweat, urine or poop will smell different. I noticed it most in my sweat, which was also the most accurate indicator of when I had COVID and when I had recovered. The skin is one of our largest elimination organ, so when it tries to eliminate something that is unhealthy for the body, it is bound to get itchy, with rashes and hives. I consider it a good sign. It shows that the body is actively eliminating. However, if you always had skin issues, then COVID could also just be flaring that up, not necessarily a sign of elimination.
Become conscious of your body’s smells and watch your fluids. If you are experiencing excess hair fall, watch your kidney. Are you sweating or urinating like before?
4. Long COVID: The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), UK describes long COVID as having “symptoms continuing for more than 12 weeks after an infection and that can’t be explained by another cause”. There seem to be a number of reasons why long COVID persists: in some people with strong immune systems, the immune response attacks not just the virus but their own tissues ; the virus itself gets into and damages our cells causing symptoms like brain fog and a loss of smell and taste, while damage to blood vessels in particular could lead to heart, lung and brain problems (Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-57833394)
Become conscious of signs that the body is throwing up: excessive hair fall, new or old aches and pains, headaches, higher sugar levels.
Listen and then…
My biggest take away from COVID so far is this: it is nature’s way of forcing us to take a pause. Pauses force listening!
Listen to the fact that continuing with diseases and deficiencies (vitamins & minerals) in our bodies is not going to be ok. COVID and COVID like diseases are going to play havoc in bodies that are already sick.
Pause when the body gives early warnings: headaches, insomnia, acidity, loss of energy are all early signs. Please do not pop a pill and supress or ignore these signs. Our physical and mental bodies are very patient, even though we might not be. They give us signs and warning for years before reaching a point of total collapse. They also are hugely resilient and are only asking for a little help every now and then (a smaller meal, more water, some fresh sunlight and air). Let us make sure we extend that help.
As you start listening, irrespective of what you notice, do not worry or panic. Panic and anxiety directly impact the heart, one organ that you want to be strong while the virus is playing out. Also have faith in the resilience of your own body. In case of an old illness flaring up, the body has been living with it for some times, so you have time to figure out what you want to do about it. Also use this opportunity to not supress the symptoms (pain, for instance) again but find a system of healing that cures it from its roots. Sadly, allopathy won’t make the cut here.
Knowing one’s body and its signs makes us more self- reliant and less dependent on a medical system that is already over-burdened .There is less fear in a self- reliant person and more faith in self.