PETALING JAYA, June 15 ― “Give it all you’ve got to cling on to life even if it’s just for one second.”
Those are the words of Rabiatul Adawiah, a 35-year-old mum who survived Stage 4 Covid-19 earlier this year whilst pregnant with her third child.
The project manager who works at a manufacturing company in Kuala Lumpur took to Facebook recently to detail her ordeal with Covid-19 in a harrowing account that provided insight into the severity of the pandemic.
It all began on January 15 while she was on the way to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for a maternity check-up when she had a cough that felt unusual.
She couldn’t walk, she ran a fever and had no appetite the following day.
The doctor at a clinic told her she didn’t require a Covid-19 swab test since she wasn’t a close contact but her gut feeling told her otherwise and she decided to get a test the following day which came back positive.
The nightmare began when she had trouble breathing and an ambulance arrived to bring her to Sungai Buloh Hospital’s emergency department.
Her oxygen levels dipped so low that had she arrived a little later, it would be too late for the then-expectant mum.
In a span of one day, her Stage 4 diagnoses of Covid-19 escalated to Stage 5 that required supplemental oxygen.
She had to be intubated, which was painful and made ingesting food a challenge.
When doctors said they couldn’t guarantee if the oxygen would reach her baby, she begged them to perform a caesarean section to save her pregnancy which was at 30 weeks.
Luckily, her prematurely born baby who is now almost five months old is healthy and goes for regular check-ups to monitor her growth.
‘We got infected despite being careful’
Rabiatul spent 42 days in hospital fighting to stay alive in the intensive care unit (ICU) where she was intubated twice, had a hypoxemia attack (low blood oxygen) and was prodded with needles at least 150 times.
The mum of three told Malay Mail her husband and two children also tested positive for Covid-19 and self-isolated at home.
She doesn’t know how her family contracted the virus, especially since they made sure to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and only went out when required.
“Who would have thought we would get infected despite being careful.”
She said the doctors and nurses urged her to share her survival story on social media but she couldn’t bring herself to rehash the details and would often be reduced to tears thinking about her ordeal.
“When I was in the ICU and showed improvement, the doctors and nurses were so happy that I was recovering well ― I’ve never seen that kind of joy on a person’s face,” she said.
Months after her recovery, she still thinks about their selflessness.
“I’m so grateful to the frontliners, I can’t put into words what they’ve done for me and I can never repay them for their kindness and patience.
“Even though their workload was unimaginable, they always wore a smile and made sure to cheer us up while attending to our needs,” she said.
But she was determined to type a long Facebook post after encountering an insurance agent who was a Covid-19 denier that made light of the pandemic.
Advice from a Covid-19 survivor
A year into the pandemic, many Malaysians still ignore public health SOPs by not wearing a face mask or wearing it wrongly around their chin or refusing to scan their temperatures and MySejahtera app.
“All I can say is, pray that you will never get it because once you’re infected, you will feel as though you can’t even walk on this Earth and the trauma is life-long.”
Asked why she thinks there are still many who don’t fear Covid-19, Rabiatul used the example of telling someone to avoid a dangerous road.
“There will be people who think they are such excellent drivers that the warning doesn’t matter.
“So if people feel they are healthy and strong, they don’t view the virus as a threat.
“Never feel that you are superior to anything ― take the experts’ advice because if you don’t, you’re increasing your risk,” she cautioned.
Rabiatul urged her fellow Malaysians to always stay informed, saying that knowledge is important to fight the pandemic.
She said her friends and family were unaware of Covid-19’s various stages when she told them she was classified under Stage 4.
“Malaysians who don’t view Covid-19 seriously often don’t have enough information on the disease and what the situation entails in ICUs.
“A lot of the coverage in the media is repetition without explanation so the public still lacks understanding,” she said.
Rabiatul is now hoping recovered Covid-19 patients will be given vaccine priority to further boost their immunity.