I have always said that good leadership is about openness wherever possible and on that note, I want to share my personal journey of dealing with Covid-19 over the past two weeks. On the evening of the 7th of October, I started developing a light cough, and a gentle fever. Henna (my wife) was also not feeling that well since the 5th of October, although her symptoms were primarily tiredness, followed by a bit of change of taste and difficulty breathing. While we were at heightened awareness of Covid-19, we were also taking all reasonable precautionary measures (staying indoors mostly, face coverings outside, hands sanitised/washed, etc) and my immediate feeling was this must be a cold virus. By the evening of the 8th, I started feeling really tired and water started to taste bitter. At this point, both Henna and I agreed to get ourselves tested. We opted for home tests and ordered them on the 8th. Both tests arrived on the 9th morning (fantastic delivery service) and we did the tests on the 9th and posted them back on the same day. Very clear instructions by NHS on how to conduct the test and a really useful guiding video. The experience nonetheless was not pleasant, particularly the nose swab part of it.
My test results came back at around 10pm on the 11th of October (Sunday) with a confirmed positive case. Henna’s results didn’t come back till I think on the 13th of October, and she had a negative test result. Not really sure how or why! Thankfully Zuhair (my three and a half year old boy) remained well throughout and showed no symptoms whatsoever. This also started a flurry of extremely repetitive and mostly useless messages/calls from NHS or NHS linked services. They all started by talking about the training they have received on data security and that they are fully aware of the privacy concerns, but after a couple of conversations, my confidence in their awareness of GDPR regulations or privacy policies was not that great. It also felt that the services were really disconnected, e.g. I got a call on day 9 of my self-isolation (the NHS app recommended a 14 day isolation) suggesting that my self-isolation has finished and how am I feeling about going out. There were very few questions on whether I have had any contact with anyone else, and many questions/messages about my mental health, whether I am speaking with my friends and family on regular basis, and that I shouldn’t break the self-isolation rules, etc. Generally speaking, I was pleased that they were asking about these things. However, their repetitiveness meant that I got tired of them very quickly (especially as I was also answering the same questions on behalf of my three and a half year old). My opinion is that most staff felt under-trained, lacking in confidence, and not entirely sure how to respond if you ask them anything off script. Almost all calls were like that, apart from an early one I had, with a lady who knew her stuff and you could tell straightaway.
In terms of how my body reacted to the virus, for the first few days, my body (while tired) kept going on. It had a weird reaction to Covid for the first few days. In the mornings between 8am to 12pm, I was completely fine. Then I would start feeling feverish and tired till around 4pm. Then generally ok till around 7pm. Then extremely knackered and feverish till I could finally go to sleep around 12 or 1am. Anyway, I continued working and by Wednesday (one full week since the symptoms started), my body decided it has had enough. I went in bed on Wednesday night and literally could not move out of it on Thursday. By this time, cough has gone worse, fever remained continuous and high (but thankfully never too high – although there were times when I was burning and shivering at the same time), and I had to stay in bed mostly till Monday morning. It was only on Monday where body felt recovered and my fever broke properly.
I still have not fully recovered though. I am still easily fatigued, can’t do any real physical activity, and my breathing gets laboured very quickly even if I go up the stairs quickly. From others who have had Covid-19 and whom I have spoken with, they have all said that it will take a week or two more for a full recovery. I am still so thankful that I have made a recovery the way I have, as I have seen it impact on several of my friends and colleagues in a lot worse fashion.
A couple of people have asked me whether I felt scared during this. Strangely, no I didn’t feel scared. I think my faith kicked in and helped me go through this in a positive way. I have this strong belief that if this is the end of my life, then this would be it, there is nothing I can do to change it. Of course this doesn’t mean you go and do crazy stuff, but it did allow me to not worry about things too much. The only advice I can give is to avoid googling your symptoms, that did create a sense of worry occasionally. A lot of bed time also meant a lot of reflection time. Particularly about what is important in our lives, including family, work, happiness, contentment, and the power of positivity. It also created a feeling of humbleness and happiness for me, and a feeling of being very thankful for all the blessings that are already in my life. It reminded me of my roots a lot, which I really cherished during this time.
I am very thankful to my family who have been there throughout for me during this. Particularly Henna who has been superbly supportive even while not feeling great herself, my colleagues and friends who dropped me so many messages of support and brought essential supplies at home, my leadership team who sent a generous get well soon goodies basket at home, and my siblings who have been praying and sending their messages of support from across the globe. Thank you to each and everyone of you.
On the bright side, I might have antibodies for the next few months now 🙂