And when he regarded down, he could not acknowledge himself. As soon as a 215-pound athlete with chiseled muscle mass and astounding energy, the 40-year-old regarded like a totally totally different individual.
“I wakened and checked out my arms, my legs, and my muscle mass have been gone,” he mentioned. “I used to be type of freaking out, like the place are my legs? The place did my legs go?”
Ayyad is a coronavirus survivor.
Docs had positioned him in an induced coma for 25 days to save lots of his life.
It has been slightly over two months since these touch-and-go days and he is nonetheless recovering. Nonetheless out of breath at occasions. Nonetheless nursing the harm to his lung and coronary heart.
However he has a message — for many 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 in opposition to coronavirus.
“It worries me loads seeing folks take this evenly,” he advised CNN on Tuesday. “I received it and survived, and I am nonetheless terrified.”
The way it all 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, certainly one of his favourite sports activities.
The subsequent week, his complete life had modified. Strolling up the steps left him exhausted. So did cooking, speaking, and driving.
Then got here the coughing and sneezing. Ultimately it was a excessive fever, complete lack of vitality and urge for food, and an issue respiration.
Ayyad thought he had the flu.
However after certainly 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 have 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.
Nearly all of coronavirus sufferers who’re positioned on ventilators are positioned in an induced coma as they’re often too uncomfortable to remain relaxed with a tube down their throat, which makes them really feel like they can not breathe.
“It was extraordinarily emotional,” Ayyad mentioned. “I knew I might be on this utterly alone. Then I referred to as my pal and advised him to choose up my canine. And that was it. I did not know what was coming. I did not know if this was the final time I might discuss to them. I did not know if I used to be about to die.”
What occurred subsequent
Ayyad would not know for positive when or the place he was uncovered to the virus. Per week earlier than he started exhibiting signs, he took a 3-day journey to Florida to go to his brother. It might have been then.
As he lay in a hospital mattress, his members of the family have been tormented they might 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. As a substitute, she was compelled to face far-off on a road and watch him go inside his residence to self quarantine in solitude.
Each three days, she cooked for him Palestinian meals — stuffed grape leaves, Molokhia, Maqluba — and did her finest to “fatten him again up,” he joked.
“I had nightmares each evening, calling the hospital at Three a.m. simply to ensure he was nonetheless alive,” Zeinab advised CNN.
How issues are actually
After practically a month with out stable meals, Ayyad clearly remembers the second he received to eat once more.
“It was apple sauce,” he mentioned. “I used to be so completely satisfied. That first chew, it felt so satisfying. Nicely, earlier than I noticed I forgot the best way to swallow. It is like I did not bear in mind the best way to eat. I needed to be taught that yet again. However I will not neglect the apple sauce.”
It wasn’t simply swallowing that the athlete needed to be taught yet again. He could not discuss or stroll both. For the following three weeks, each motion knocked the breath out of him, elevating his coronary heart fee and leaving him gasping for air.
However he was removed from discouraged.
Daily, Ayyad tried one thing new. First he began with leg extensions from his hospital mattress utilizing the blankets. Then it was aspect lunges. Ultimately he was away from bed, squatting and strolling laps after laps. He was decided.
After lastly going residence on April 22, Ayyad was 60 kilos lighter. He had a blood clot in his left arm, harm to his coronary heart and lungs, and spent the following month struggling to do something with out shedding his breath.
However on a regular basis, little by little, he was gaining again his weight — and muscle mass.
“He appears to be making an important restoration,” Zaeh, the physician, mentioned.
“It was outstanding to go from seeing him at his sickest within the ICU — intubated, deeply sedated and on his abdomen to assist him breathe — to seeing him at residence. He was smiling and speaking about how completely satisfied he was to go for a brief jog and sit exterior with the solar on his face,” Zaeh mentioned.
Ayyad is now virtually again to regular. Whereas he is again to boxing, figuring out on a regular basis, taking part in basketball and hopefully working marathons quickly sufficient, he is nonetheless apprehensive in regards to the virus.
“Individuals are appearing prefer it’s gone. It isn’t. Put on your masks. Do not collect in massive teams. Care for your self and the folks round you,” Ayyad mentioned.
“Take it critically. It isn’t a joke. It will possibly kill you, even in the event you assume you are wholesome and proof against it. You are not.”
He is aware of. He hopes others do not have to seek out out the onerous manner.