‘COVID-19 affected my physical and mental health’- survivor 

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By Dinica Paul

Nigel Gravesande has been employed by the Guyana Fire Service for the past 21 years and holds the rank of a Sub-Officer. The 39-year-old, who hails from Lamaha Springs, Georgetown, is a COVID-19 survivor.

The father of two decided to take the test after experiencing severe symptoms last October, and his worst fears were confirmed when he received that dreaded phone call on October 20.

Gravesande shared with the News Room that prior to being tested, he was experiencing flu-like symptoms and fever for a few days. After he realised this was not normal, he started to take ‘conventional medicine.’

“I started to boil up this concoction that people say would normally work- the ginger, fever grass, and all of those conventional medicines- and I used that for approximately a week. However, the fever and flu were still there and I even started having trouble breathing,” Gravesande said.

After realising he was not showing any signs of improvement, Gravesande decided to get tested. The positive result came as no surprise to Gravesande, but what ensued thereafter took a toll on his physical and mental health.

“At that time I was at my lowest; I didn’t even think I would have returned home. When I got to the hospital, I was admitted to the ICU and I could not have even climbed the stairs- they had to lift me up those stairs. I was an emotional wreck after then,” Gravesande shared.

Gravesande spent five days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and received oxygen throughout his stay.  During this time, he also contracted pneumonia, coupled with his underlying health conditions: hypertension and asthma.

“Having COVID can really affect you mentally if you are not strong. I had problems thinking clearly, my thoughts were confused. You have to be very strong mentally to overcome COVID, especially if you were placed in the ICU where you have persons dying next to you,” Gravesande explained.

Gravesande said he would not wish for anyone to experience what he went through, and urged his fellow Guyanese to take precautions.

“Many nights I go to bed and I wake up, somebody died. Yes, there is a bit of fear that will come on you, but you still have to reassure yourself that: ‘I’m gonna make it, I have to make it. I gotta make it for my family’ and you work towards that. Ensuring that you take your medications, do your exercise, and every other thing the health professionals advise; but most of all, you have to work on your mental health because that is the only thing that can preserve you,” Gravesande advised.

It took Gravesande over a month to recover and return to work, and though he was now negative, he was still not 100% well.  Despite being a victim of COVID-19, Gravesande remained optimistic throughout his journey to overcome the deadly disease, which, up to February 10, 2021, had claimed 182 lives in Guyana.

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