He was an athlete in one of the best form of his life. Then Covid-19 almost killed him

He was an athlete in the best shape of his life. Then Covid-19 nearly killed him


And when he appeared down, he could not acknowledge himself. Once a 215-pound athlete with chiseled muscle mass and astounding energy, the 40-year-old appeared like a totally completely different particular person.

“I woke up and looked at my arms, my legs, and my muscles were gone,” he mentioned. “I was kind of freaking out, like where are my legs? Where did my legs go?”

Ayyad is a coronavirus survivor.

Doctors had positioned him in an induced coma for 25 days to avoid wasting his life.

It’s been a little bit over two months since these touch-and-go days and he is nonetheless recovering. Still out of breath at instances. Still nursing the injury to his lung and coronary heart.

But he has a message — for individuals who refuse to put on a masks throughout this pandemic, for these dismissive of public well being steerage, for these within the prime of their well being and really feel invincible towards coronavirus.

“It worries me a lot seeing people take this lightly,” he advised Source on Tuesday. “I got it and survived, and I’m still terrified.”

How all of it started

It began with an amazing feeling of weak point.

One week, Ayyad was working his personal restaurant and membership in Washington, DC whereas working at his household’s retail furnishings enterprise. He was racing marathons and competing in impediment course races, taking weekly basketball courses, and boxing, considered one of his favourite sports activities.

The subsequent week, his complete life had modified. Walking up the steps left him exhausted. So did cooking, speaking, and driving.

Then got here the coughing and sneezing. Eventually it was a excessive fever, whole lack of vitality and urge for food, and a problem respiratory.

Ayyad thought he had the flu.

But after considered one of his mates, a doctor assistant, urged him to go to the hospital, he took an Uber to Sibley Memorial Hospital on March 15. Their suspicions had been confirmed; he examined constructive for influenza and the coronavirus.

His situation continued to worsen. He was positioned on a ventilator and instantly transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, the place he was put in an induced coma.

The majority of coronavirus sufferers who’re positioned on ventilators are positioned in an induced coma as they’re normally too uncomfortable to remain relaxed with a tube down their throat, which makes them really feel like they can not breathe.

Ayyad grew to become the hospital’s third Covid-19 affected person and the primary to be positioned on a ventilator, John Hopkins mentioned.
While medical doctors stay not sure why the athlete was at extra danger, particularly with such good well being and no preexisting circumstances, “there could be factors” they nonetheless do not absolutely perceive, Dr. Sandra Zaeh, who handled Ayyad within the hospital and continued to take care of him after he returned dwelling, mentioned in a hospital news release.

“It was extremely emotional,” Ayyad mentioned. “I knew I would be in this completely alone. Then I called my friend and told him to pick up my dog. And that was it. I didn’t know what was coming. I didn’t know if this was the last time I would talk to them. I didn’t know if I was about to die.”

What occurred subsequent

Ayyad would not know for certain when or the place he was uncovered to the virus. Per week earlier than he started displaying signs, he took a 3-day journey to Florida to go to his brother. It may have been then.

Ayyad after recovering from the coronavirus.

As he lay in a hospital mattress, his relations had been tormented they’d lose him with out even getting an opportunity to say goodbye.

When his mother, Zeinab Ayyad, first laid eyes on her son after he was launched, she burst into tears. She longed to carry her son in her arms. Instead, she was pressured to face far-off on a road and watch him go inside his house to self quarantine in solitude.

Every three days, she cooked for him Palestinian meals — stuffed grape leaves, Molokhia, Maqluba — and did her greatest to “fatten him back up,” he joked.

“I had nightmares every night, calling the hospital at 3 a.m. just to make sure he was still alive,” Zeinab advised Source.

How issues are actually

After almost a month with out stable meals, Ayyad clearly remembers the second he obtained to eat once more.

“It was apple sauce,” he mentioned. “I was so happy. That first bite, it felt so satisfying. Well, before I realized I forgot how to swallow. It’s like I didn’t remember how to eat. I had to learn that all over again. But I won’t forget the apple sauce.”

It wasn’t simply swallowing that the athlete needed to study once more. He could not speak or stroll both. For the following three weeks, each motion knocked the breath out of him, elevating his coronary heart price and leaving him gasping for air.

But he was removed from discouraged.

Every day, Ayyad tried one thing new. First he began with leg extensions from his hospital mattress utilizing the blankets. Then it was aspect lunges. Eventually he was off the bed, squatting and strolling laps after laps. He was decided.

Ayyad 2 months after recovering from the virus.

After lastly going dwelling on April 22, Ayyad was 60 kilos lighter. He had a blood clot in his left arm, injury to his coronary heart and lungs, and spent the following month struggling to do something with out dropping his breath.

But on a regular basis, little by little, he was gaining again his weight — and muscle mass.

“He seems to be making a great recovery,” Zaeh, the physician, mentioned.

“It was remarkable to go from seeing him at his sickest in the ICU — intubated, deeply sedated and on his stomach to help him breathe — to seeing him at home. He was smiling and talking about how happy he was to go for a short jog and sit outside with the sun on his face,” Zaeh mentioned.

Ayyad is now nearly again to regular. While he is again to boxing, figuring out on a regular basis, enjoying basketball and hopefully working marathons quickly sufficient, he is nonetheless nervous in regards to the virus.

“People are acting like it’s gone. It’s not. Wear your mask. Don’t gather in big groups. Take care of yourself and the people around you,” Ayyad mentioned.

“Take it seriously. It’s not a joke. It can kill you, even if you think you’re healthy and immune to it. You’re not.”

He is aware of. He hopes others haven’t got to seek out out the arduous manner.

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