Thursday , September 24 2020

Our Covid stories

Two members of our admin team have recently been affected by Covid, in different ways. Due to some extremely negative events and comments of late, they have chosen to share their stories, to try and explain Covid from their personal perspectives.

Thank you to both Chrissie and Louise as we know this has been really tough for you both.

A covid positive reality by Chrissie Parker

The world is going through massive upheaval at present. We’ve all felt it. It was a situation that started with everyone caring for each other, being kind and genuinely worrying about what would happen in the future. Lately it has turned into bitterness and anger, with people torn down the middle on opposing sides. Those who “believe in Covid” and those who choose not too.

It’s unclear how things turned so quickly. Or why so many people have chosen to disbelieve something that has affected the lives of so many others, in such a terrible way. The bitterness and hatred is frustrating.

People are allowed opinions. Opinions are what make us individuals. People can choose to believe what they want, but it’s also time there was some respect and understanding for others and what they have and are still going through.

Here’s where it gets personal. Please bear with me. As I write this, I’m on month six of Covid fallout and my life is far from what it should be. I contracted Covid in April. I spent eight days in bed and was very unwell. I’m going to be blunt now to those who say it’s just a mild flu. It’s not, so please stop calling it that.

Mild flu isn’t struggling to breathe, unable to catch your breath. Waking up in the night from panic attacks because you’re unable to breathe properly. It’s not your chest hurting and crackling every time you cough or merely breathe in. It’s not your throat overheating feeling like it’s on fire. It’s not a cough that almost makes you vomit and hurts your body, every time you cough. It’s not a temperature that gives you hallucinations and leaves you soaked through, due to extreme heat one minute and freezing cold the next. It’s not tiredness that’s so bad you can’t even move your limbs to get out of bed to go to the bathroom.

After eight days of these severe symptoms, there was a further four weeks of exhaustion and muscle loss that turned into post viral fatigue, with growing side affects of heart palpitations, insomnia, memory loss/brain fog, continued temperature spikes, dizziness, violent nausea, breathlessness, inability to go about life as normal and continued fatigue.

In June I collapsed. After tests and continuing symptoms I’ve now been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A condition that has no cure, no treatment and there’s no medication. It may be short term or I may now have it for  the rest of my life. No one knows. I’m now only able to work a few hours a day. In fact it’s taken me two weeks just to write this post as I struggle to write anything at at all right now. I’ve cried, I’ve been angry. Frustration is a daily battle. My life has changed so much I have to follow a management plan just to get through each day. I never know if I’ll be normal again.

That’s the reality of Covid.

It’s not a scam, it’s not flu and it’s not made up. It’s very real and it’s vile and I’ve had to live with consequences for almost half a year now. Maybe for the rest of my life. It’s frustrating and upsetting and I wish I could change things but I can’t. I just have to live with it.

I can however try and explain from my personal is experience. No fake news, no fiction. Just honest, blunt reality. So please, be kind, be thoughtful of others. We need to support each other right now. We need to treat each other better. Having an opinion is fine, but do your research, really do it. Don’t just read one thing online and assume it’s true. Look into it, get the facts, back it up. Be aware of others who may be struggling and who may going through an awful time. I’m one of the strong ones, I’m fighting every day and every step of the way, others however may not be as strong, and they are the ones who need your support, so please be kind.

It’s the only way we will get through the madness that currently surrounds us.

Chrissie Parker

A tragic family loss by Louise Inzk

We’ve all seen the news reports and the live footage of the Italian city of Bergamo, where they needed army vehicles to help carry the dead to their place of rest.

Like many I couldn’t believe what I was watching and certainly did not think that covid-19 could hit so close to my family’s door.

I’ve been watching TV reports, videos and reading comments on social media about the pandemic. I also reported the restrictions that our Government has made during this pandemic and basically anything that has to do with covid for our website and members.  I have even had to report the daily data that occurs within our country on a 24 hour basis, the amount of new cases and of course the number of deaths.

Number, it was exactly that, a number, with no personal tie to these numbers at all. Like many, I had my doubts about these numbers, especially when it came to the higher aged groups. Often I would hear and read comments like “Oh he was 80, what do you expect he could have had the flu and died” or “what other underlying problems did they have, they just put covid as the cause of death to scare people.”

No consideration as to how the people behind these numbers were coping with the new pandemic and no consideration of the how families were affected when their loved one died.

So this brings me to my personal situation with Covid-19.  Over the last few weeks our Island took a spike in cases. The British Press were quick to point fingers at Zakynthos; the locals on the other hand were annoyed at the fact that a certain amount of visitors just ignored the measures we had in place.  I was trying to think as balanced as possible, holiday makers wanting to let their hair down and just have a great time, and to be honest why shouldn’t they, that’s what they paid for. On the other hand I was torn by trying to comprehend what us residents actually achieved in order to have a safe environment for these people to “let their hair down” so to speak.

We basically sacrificed everything in order to keep the enemy, covid at bay. Throughout the first months we kept our distance, we locked down our businesses our schools and in the end our ports of entry. Our family visits became limited and eventually stopped altogether. However, we came out in triumph the enemy at that time seemed long gone; we had beaten it and were proud to promote the fact that we were covid free. The sacrifice of all was worth it, we could finally open our doors to what Zakynthos relies heavily on economically; tourism.

Businesses slowly started to re open and strict measures were taken. Making sure that all of the protocols were in place and we all waited patiently for our first guest to arrive. In the first months of July tests were being done at the airport and re assurance that our island is safe came as a relief not only to residents but visitors as well. Come late August however, a change in our security hit us like a tone of bricks. Zakynthos became known as a “hotspot” for the very enemy we tried so many months to keep from our shores. Covid had returned and it would hit us with such bitter sweet revenge.

Hearing stories of some fellow villagers being tested for covid and being positive brought all the fear and concern home. One of them just happened to be my Aunt.

Although I had not been in contact with her directly the news was concerning and at the time we were shocked as to how it could be. It seems that working in the area of Lagana became a death wish for someone we dearly loved.

Four days with a high temperature and not being able to control it, the doctors decided that it would be better to treat her in hospital. Her lungs had paid the price and she was immediately intubated. The virus works that quick, by the time she felt the difficulties in her breathing it was too late, the lungs had been seriously damaged. Her condition grew worse rapidly and it was decided that she be taken to the special covid treatment unit in Patra. Her children were not allowed near her, nor were they allowed at the hospital “it’s protocol for covid patients” they were told.  Knowing that a silent enemy you brought into the home is torment enough but not to be able to stand by the side of your own mother when she is suffering is something no one should have to go through. From a distance we could only pray that the medication would work and that she would be a story of recovery and defeat. Sadly, she did not win that battle. Covid struck its final blow.

Among the numbers of the new deaths for the 24 hour daily report was a number. It was number 1, My Aunt. Needless to say I could not report that number as I had done so many times over and over again. This was my Aunt and she died alone. She died without ever saying goodbye. She died without her children, her grandchildren and those who loved her most. The number had just died.

As shocked as we were, our family prepared for her funeral. Greeks honour their dead in sentimental tribute. They bring their loved ones home and friends and family stay till the morning light in wake. The funeral itself is usually of grandeur were many come to pay their respects. The church bell sounds the mourning chime to let all know of the last tribute and bid farewell. The church is filled with flowers and wreaths and every little detail is made to ensure the person who departs in this life is honoured and respected. Covid however, has ripped this opportunity away from us!   

Protocols won’t allow it. It doesn’t matter what your sentimental values hold, it doesn’t matter that you would dearly like to say goodbye the way you would really like. It just doesn’t matter to covid! It doesn’t matter that the daughter, the son can’t even attend their mother’s funeral as protocol won’t allow it. Covid has got them in quarantine, covid doesn’t care and you just have to suffer the consequences.

We buried our Aunt in a fashion so cruel she didn’t deserve. The memory we all will have to live with. A painful sigh, why couldn’t people listen! Flashes of party goers, people without masks, conspiracy theories and more, my mind so confused as we watched the last bit of soil cover her grave, “It’s so unfair” I whispered to my husband then I collapsed in tears. The tears; they seemed the only real part in all of this. As for my Aunt she is number 2 on the death list of covid in Zakynthos.

Louise Inzk

Thank you for reading our stories. They’ve been painful to write, but Chrissie and Louise both felt the need to tell them. Please stay safe and well everyone.

About Chrissie Parker

Chrissie Parker joined the Zakynthos Informer Team in 2014. Chrissie’s first experience of the island was a combined birthday and wedding celebration, in true Zakynthian style. Since then she has been able to combine her love of the island, including its incredible history, tradition and culture, with her love of writing.

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