PETALING JAYA: Having studied overseas in London for the last three years, Ilyana Nisa was excited to finally fly home and be reunited with her family and friends.
But things took a turn as she started developing a high fever two days after she landed in Malaysia.
Following that, all her muscles started to ache. Her back hurt and she eventually lost her sense of taste and smell.
“I assumed it was just a normal fever because when I travel, I tend to fall sick. But this was different because after awhile I noticed that I lost my sense of smell and taste.
“A few of my friends told me that it was one of the symptoms most people coming back from the UK were going through. That’s when I decided to take a Covid-19 test,” she told FMT.
Unfortunately, the test came back positive.
“They sent me to the Sungai Buloh Hospital. I was supposed to go by ambulance but my mum sent me straight away when we got the test results from our private clinic.”
Admitted at the height of the pandemic in March, Ilyana remembers the gloom of uncertainty during her isolated six-day stint in the hospital.
“I was anxious, maybe 90% of the time, as I was not sure what was going to happen to me. I was not allowed visitors — we were confined in this one ward space and there were lines drawn within us and the outside world.
“We could not leave or go beyond that red line. We were literally in that secluded ward the whole time.”
Adding to the fear were her hospital neighbours’ conditions, which were worsening by the day.
One of them required respiratory assistance through a ventilator, and the patient in front of her contracted a wheezing cough which Ilyana described as loud enough for the entire hospital to hear. The rest were prescribed an increasing amount of medicine as time went on.
“I was waiting for the symptoms to develop. Every time I felt like something was developing, I got really scared and anxious.”
With no discharge date in sight, Ilyana tried to make the best of her situation by setting a routine of exercising, ticking off her reading list and getting to know her wardmates.
“There were times where we talked about the cases and how high it was getting, but we also talked about our experiences and where we travelled, what we did for work.”
Also included in her new routine were four daily health checkups involving temperature, blood pressure and breathing tests conducted by the hospital staff to check if she’d developed more symptoms.
Based on her experience of the service at the Sg Buloh Hospital, Ilyana expressed nothing but gratitude for the nation’s frontliners.
“They were amazing. I’m so thankful to them because they were always on the go, even the ones working the night shift. I couldn’t see their smiles (through their personal protective equipment) but I could tell from the tone of their voices that they wanted to make sure I was okay.”
As someone who has experienced the physical and mental impact of the coronavirus, she stressed the importance of adhering to new norms.
“People should know that there’s still a deadly virus going around the country. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic.
“Following the standard operating procedures (SOPs) can be difficult or annoying for some people, but honestly it’s for the better and I feel like we must accept that we need to abide by the new normal. You cannot be ignorant about it.”
Ilyana urged the public, especially the younger generation, to be more appreciative of frontliners who have to work round the clock.
She added that preventing the spread of the virus started with each one of us.
“People don’t think far enough to know that the virus can affect anyone. We need to consider the ones we have at home, the ones close to us.” -FMT