‘The time Covid-19 (almost) took my breath away’

Two months after contracting Covid-19, media personality Yusuf Mallie has fully recovered. He tells Al-Qalam of his life-changing experience.

Just one week before Ramadan, Yusuf Mallie, a Cape Town herbalist, organic health advisor and Radio786 presenter went to his local supermarket to stock up for the Holy month. He had his mask firmly strapped and felt safe – but he was dead wrong as he caught Covid-19 that ravaged him.

“I thought wearing a good quality 3M Dust Mask was enough. I thought I was 100% protected. It was at the supermarket that I noticed a sickly elderly lady, coughing profusely while holding her chest and hanging on to her trolley.

“I walked past her and said, ‘Aunty you must have yourself tested.’ I carried on walking. Normally I would offer assistance …but times have changed.

“I do suffer from a weak immune system and every year during change of season to winter, I would succumb to severe flu symptoms. This is when I would whip out my book of herbal remedies and make me a special treatment for my condition. Years ago I formulated a treatment that I would use annually for the past 10 years – and for the past 7 years helping others. But this year it was different.

“It was the Tuesday afternoon, the 3rd day of Ramadan, when I felt something strange overwhelming my body, I felt funny and different.

I had chest pains but more tightness, aggravated joint pain and numbness, severe headache from my eyes to the back of my head, shortness of breath, dry cough and a painful sneeze that left me in tears, this was all happening as I struggled and committed to carry on fasting. I do have low blood, but my symptoms aggravated my blood pressure. Suddenly I had high blood, this left me delirious and disoriented. My blood pressure was so high my eyes were bloodshot and everything looked blurry.

“As the evening drew closer, my condition worsened, I had trouble speaking and the pain was more intense. At Iftaar, I broke my fast with my new NBC flu fighter formula to help with my breathing / tight chest and to help increase blood oxygen.”

“Wednesday 4th day of Ramadan, I informed my family that I will self-quarantine, with humidifiers and use NBC treatment, using 2 x tablespoon of treatment for Suhur, it worked till midday after which I was out, lights out. I woke up at iftaar time with immense pain but on Thursday morning I felt lot better. I was adamant and stubborn, I wanted to fast. I kept repeating to myself, ‘Ramadan only comes once a year. I will sacrifice a little discomfort to seek Allah’s mercy.’

Concerned

But by midday, Mallie of Surrey Estate, Athlone, felt immense pain, shortness of breath and severe sneezing. He was forced to break his fast. By this stage his family became concerned and suggested he have himself tested for Covid-19. He lost his appetite and sense of taste. He also noticed blood in his sputum.

Two days later – on a Friday – his chest “closed again” and he suffered shortness of breath and was disorientated. This was when he decided it was time to head to the Covid testing station.

“The nurse told me that because I have all the symptoms, they will admit me to Heideveld local clinic/ hospital. But doctors at the trauma ward, decided after some investigation, to rush me to Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) as the X Rays revealed my chest was inflamed and engorged with pneumonia. “

“At GSH, the trauma team tested my blood oxygen levels, dropping to 66% with high fever but with low blood. I was disorientated and delirious. I had no idea where I was or what was happening. They immediately placed me on nebulising oxygen respirator with a bag extension.

I went back to bed to rest. Subghanallah, at 2am, my blood pressure dropped below 90, my heartbeat slowed to below 50, my feet was ice cold, the alarm bells alerted the nurses, who hovered over me, waking me to sit-up and breath without the mask.”

“I didn’t get out of bed till Tuesday evening. High temperature persisted and I was perspiring profusely, yet I felt cold. I was told to constantly rotate my body and rest in different positions. The pain disappeared with the next round of medication and drip.

Alhamdulillah, on the 6th day, my oxygen level increased to 92% without the mask.

But on the 7th day in hospital, Mallie received the dreadful news he suspected all along – he was Covid-19 positive. The next day, the doctor informed him he could go home as his breathing had stabilised to 95 without the mask. “They now needed the beds for more severe cases. “

“Now almost two months later I am in good health. In the first month after treatment, I still suffered from wheezy chest and occasional tightness but had no symptoms. Compared to so many who suffered the same critical fate, I testify that Covid-19 is not a joke or hoax. It’s not a scratch that needs a band aid.”

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