Africa-Press – South-Africa. Cape Town – Even though she was overweight, Monique Johnstone, the communications officer for Western Cape Government Health, believes having started a healthy living lifestyle three months before she contracted Covid-19 enabled her body to fight the virus and survive.
As an essential healthcare worker and living with hypertension, she decided to share her story of living with chronic illness and contracting Covid-19 to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, moreover with Healthy Lifestyle Awareness Day commemorated on Sunday.
She realised that taking her health for granted is the ’’worst injustice I can bring upon myself, especially when I have co-morbidities’’.
According to Western Cape Government Health, people with chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes are considered high-risk candidates for Covid-19 and the chances of contracting severe symptoms are probable. Therefore, feelings of fear and anxiety can arise when someone with a chronic illness encounters people in public spaces or shopping centres.
Johnstone highlighted the importance of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, together with taking her medication daily, to keep her chronic illness under control.
’’I want people to know the impact and damage living with a chronic illness, along with being overweight, can have on your body when contracting Covid-19.
“Before contracting Covid-19, I joined a walking group in August 2020 at the age of 38 and started a healthy eating plan to control my weight and gain back my healthy lifestyle, of which I lost control due to my busy work and fast-paced personal lifestyle with my kids.
’’Walking with a group of motivating people after work gave me the confidence to continue my healthy lifestyle and I started walking five to 18 kilometres four days a week.
“My blood pressure was under control and I felt less tired and drained. By just walking every day, my breathing, heart rate and stamina improved.
“In December 2020, I contracted Covid-19 and suffered severe symptoms such as coughing, breathing difficulties, nausea, headaches, tiredness and a fever that lasted a few days.
’’On day nine of isolation, I encountered breathing difficulties and was rushed to a private hospital and received oxygen to assist me with my breathing.
“I was still overweight, but I believe that because I started my healthy living lifestyle three months before I contracted Covid-19 and lost a few kilograms, my body could fight this virus and I survived, thank God.
“I realised that taking my body and health for granted is the worst injustice I can bring upon myself, especially when I have comorbidities.
“The specialist caring for me in the hospital during my Covid-19 recovery said that besides my chronic illness, my weight was a concern in the fight to overcome Covid-19 and it scared me!
“After seven days of hospitalisation and after a month-long post-recovery journey, I started walking to a healthy lifestyle path again.
’’It wasn’t easy and I struggled with my breathing after contracting Covid-19, but with consistency and not giving up, I persevered and my breathing continued to improve.
’’Post Covid-19, I have conquered a combined 30km walk and managed to start jogging to get my lungs strong again and my body excited for living a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
“I want people to take their health seriously. Start by walking each day, changing your eating habits and taking your medication daily. By the end of each week you will start to feel much stronger and more excited to push yourself harder to achieve your goals.
“I’m back in action at the office, taking the necessary Covid-19 precautions and back to loving my job and working in healthcare facilities, interacting with patients and staff, and sharing their stories of hope.
’’I am so emotional and excited that the vaccines are here in Cape Town and our front-line workers are finally going to be protected from this dreaded virus. I can’t wait to receive my vaccination!”