'It was quite shocking': A matric student shares her journey to Covid-19 recovery

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Madikgetla* shares her story
Madikgetla* shares her story

Sanitising, social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks are all precautions we use to guard against picking up the Covid-19 virus, but no matter how hard we try, many people are still falling ill. 

A 17-year-old high school student wrote to us to share her experience of a positive coronavirus diagnosis. Madikgetla* asked us to share her story to help other young people who may have the virus, and to describe how the symptoms are not always as they might seem.

Read her words below...


In July, I tested positive for Covid-19.

As a healthy 17-year-old in matric, it was quite shocking.

I was nearly asymtomatic, because I only had the mild gastrointestinal symptoms.

My school went under quarantine and continued online learning as a result.

In week 1 of quarantine, I experienced no symptoms. In week 2, I started experiencing the respiratory symptoms.

My symptoms continued 

In close contact with my doctor, my symptoms continued past the 14 days, and she said it was unusual but I still went back to school after being written as non-infectious. 

During week 3, I complained of breathlessness. My mum took me to a clinic to get checked and the doctor determined that I had pre-pneumonia, which was also shocking.

My mum, not wanting to take any chances, drove me to the hospital that night.

There I found out that I had a pulmonary embolism: I was admitted to the ICU where they tested me again and gave me treatment. I was negative for Covid-19.

Here is where it gets complicated.

My first doctor (a GP) found it unusual that I was still breathless. She suggested it could be anxiety.

I am in matric, I understand that it could look that way.

The doctor I visited in the clinic also suggested that although I had mild-pneumonia, anxiety could make it worse. She had patients post-Covid that felt symptoms up to five or six weeks.

My third doctor (a physician) said that I should not be feeling breathless and deemed my current (still ongoing) symptom as pure anxiety and referred me to a psychiatrist.

She gave me the best treatment for pulmonary embolism and simply dismissed me.

The reality of Covid-19

I felt defeated: although I do have anxiety, my symptom of breathlessness should not be ruled as just anxiety.

The reality of Covid-19 is that it affects people in different ways. Some people have no symptoms. Some people have complications. Some people heal faster than others. 

Covid-19 is complicated and new to everybody.

There should not be a black and white area. So for now, my breathlessness still remains a mystery.

I am in that grey area where nobody knows why breathlessness is still ongoing for me, but everybody should keep an open mind when it comes to Covid-19 symptoms.

I hope my story is enlightening for others. Maybe some people feel that they are in that 'grey area'. 

*Name changed on request

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