Morocco, Part 2-Covid, Our Thanksgiving Covid Tsunami

When we left on our long-awaited tour of Morocco we brought Covid tests along and even had cajoled our doctors in to giving us Paxlovid to take along just in case. We prayed of course we would not get Covid but unfortunately we did. Jeff probably started first though we did not test him in the beginning. He had a cough and cold symptoms, but it did not stop him from enjoying the tour. He thought it was just a cold and he did not feel bad. The only other problem was a funky stomach and not much appetite, but I had that too blaming it on the water or whatever bug we managed to pick up. We tried to only drink bottled water and were careful but many on our tour had similar upset stomachs so we just ate carefully and relied on Pepto bismol or Imodium.

               We had taken it all in; the beauty of this  fascinating country, learning about what was left of a once thriving Jewish population,  visiting the old Jewish cemeteries and  marketplaces, Roman ruins, craft workshops and a leather tannery in the Medina, and a workshop where ancient fossils were incorporated in to tables and other furniture. I enjoyed seeing the modern Arab women in colorful hijabs, with some women not wearing hijabs at all, hip and modern, but tolerated in this moderate country. Before I came I did not know how I would feel being in an Arab country, but I found the people we met were welcoming. There were wonderful contrasts in beautiful mosques with classic mosaics, as well as modern skyscrapers,  a variety of boutiques and shopping malls, well kept roads and infrastructure. Perhaps the highlight for us was sleeping in a camp in the desert. It was definitely “glam” camping in a comfortable tent  with electricity and a shower. For me, that was my perfect kind of “camping!”

               We got to ride a camel, a one-hump dromedary if I am to be accurate. The camels politely bent  to let us get up then with a whoosh stood up (I was holding on for dear life and making deals with my camel).   Then we plodded along to a flat area near the dunes. We got off the camels and climbed up a sandy ridge in our bare feet where we watched the sky changing with sunset approaching. We sat on the ridge, posed for photos, as sunset overtook the skies. Unbelievably in the middle of nowhere I posted photos of the desert on Facebook! The golds of the sands, the purples of the changing horizon were unforgettable. Then we lumbered back on our camels back down to our tent camp. We gathered around a fire pit for a relaxing glass of wine then went to a tent for dinner and entertainment by local tribesmen with drums and chanting that got us up dancing.

               Our days were filled with site seeing, also long bus rides some days, but we were always  learning from our very knowledgeable guides while traversing the country from Casablanca to Rabat and Fez,  through valleys and mountains to our final destination, Marrakech , a hip, modern city,  with a massive public market with snake charmers and much to see. Friday evening in Marrakech we visited a packed synagogue filled with tourists, many Israelis,  and had a lovely Shabbat dinner there just for our group.  Jeff and I were both not eating much at the dinner with our yucky stomachs. We were doing OK though not feeling great.  Little did I know the ordeal that was ahead of us.

               The next day, I was really not feeling well and decided to leave the tour. Jeff had stayed with the group while I went back to the hotel and spent the day in and out of bed not knowing at first what was going on. I decided to use one of the Covid tests I had brought and test myself. I almost could not believe my eyes when I saw the telltale two lines. I called our tour guide who pulled Jeff aside and told him I had Covid.  

               This was the start of a very unpleasant bout with that nasty virus. The first thing we did was make arrangements to stay longer in Marrakech. We knew we could not leave when we were supposed to on Monday so we quarantined in the hotel. Jeff was also showing a positive test albeit his line was faint but we assumed he had Covid as well. My version of Covid was strange. I had no fever, body aches, very little cough. What I did have was extreme thirst on many days, fatigue, and the continuation of a funky stomach. All in all I felt really crappy. I felt so ill that I was sure I needed an IV for hydration. We decided to go to the emergency room at an international hospital in Marrakech luckily not far from our hotel. By the way, I had started the Paxlovid after calling my doctor in Oakland. However, I thought that it was making me feel  even worse so I stopped taking it after a couple of days.

               You can imagine how bad I had to feel  that I wanted to go to the hospital. It was scary and intense but as soon as we walked in a young doctor who spoke passable English and was very sweet to me got me in a private room rather quickly. He ordered blood work to be done and concluded I was not de-hydrated despite my intense thirst. He gave me something for my stomach and after he looked at the blood work said we could leave. I was so grateful I did not have to stay in a foreign hospital. We stopped at a little store and bought a ton of drinks and went back to the hotel.

               The next few days we stayed away from everyone in the hotel, sat by the pool in a lovely garden area. There was even a Kosher restaurant in the hotel, and we managed to share one dinner. Breakfast was always a buffet and we could sit outside, but I could barely eat anything or even stay long enough to eat.  There were some moments I felt better and we would take a little walk outside. I had never felt so out of sorts except for my post chemo days. This was how I described to Jeff how I felt. Not good.

               After five days of quarantining, we knew we had to get out of Marrakech and go home to finish convalescing. I had changed our flights to leave Thursday morning.  I had to pay for flight changes but fortunately Air Maroc was able to get us on a different flight as did Jet Blue. Originally we were staying New York for three days after the tour, but that was of course was canceled. I decided we needed to stay in New York at least one night and break up the flight which turned out to be a godsend. Jeff was very worried about me on the long flight home, and I barely held it together not feeling well and drinking constantly. We spent the night at the Crowne Plaza near the airport which was very comfortable, and I really felt better on Friday morning for the last leg home. I thought I might be on the mend at last. I was fooled by this sneaky virus with its ups and downs and twists and turns.

               We thankfully made it home Friday, but by Sunday I felt really bad again. We had called our doctor and decided I should go to the ER to be checked which I did. They gave me blood work and an EKG, and a chest Xray but I checked out OK. This time I did get an IV though technically I was not dehydrated. The kind ER doctor (I’ll talk more about him shortly) told me what I was going through was not atypical. We went home and by around the tenth day I tested negative. Jeff had already tested negative. I was still feeling out of sorts, anxious, some days thirsty, vulnerable, weak, not myself. I had moments when I thought I would not recover.  This was not a good feeling. I refused to entertain the thought I had long Covid

               Poor Jeff. I really put him through the ringer. He did not have to ask how I felt. He saw me looking strained and white.  He fortunately was doing OK and returned to his volunteer work schedule. Everyone in the family was worried about me. My kids had brought over bone soup and chicken soup, and I tried various homeopathic remedies. I also took Advil off and on for inflammation.  I think it helped somewhat. I felt well enough to go to shul one Shabbat. However by the afternoon that day I was yucky again. My stomach was not good. I even threw up. By the next morning we decided to go the ER again.

               I turned out to have the same kind doctor as my previous Sunday visit. Once again I got an IV, blood work, and he even tested me for a blood clot. Again, he reassured me that what I was feeling was not unusual and I should just take advantage when I felt better to do things and when I needed to rest I should do that. He had seen on my records somehow that I had kids in Israel which launched a discussion about my kids there and his connection to Israel. Then on a whim I asked him if he was related to a dear friend of mine. I remembered she had a cousin who was an ER doctor. It was him!  Then we were like cousins, and he told me I could text him with questions. The next day he called me to see how I was. I can’t express how his kindness and concern meant so much to me. A couple of times I texted him and he always reassured me.

               Originally I was going to host twenty one for Thanksgiving and when I do this holiday, I go all out. I decorate my table with my collection of Thanksgiving tchotchkes, whip up my tried and true recipes and always add a few new ones I’ve found from perusing the internet. I make a lavish meal with all the trimmings, including two kinds of homemade cranberry sauce.  My mom also embraced this holiday and this makes me think of her, and it is also my favorite also because it is right around my birthday.This year obviously there was no way I could host or do much of anything. I was so looking forward to my nephew Marcus who was coming from Philadelphia  especially to hang with his cousins. He was going to stay at our house and he wanted to celebrate my birthday on Saturday. My brother was also coming in from LA to stay with us. Then all the plans shifted. My dear sister took over preparing Thanksgiving and we divided the group. Elana also hosted and had twelve at her house with Laurie and her family. I was able to help Linda with a few dishes. I was very grateful I could go and participate and felt pretty well.

               Some of the group gathered at my house for a small birthday celebration on Saturday. I managed to do a lunch and we had cake and ice cream. Not everyone was there but we had a nice group. I was feeling relatively well, not completely myself but hopeful I was making  real progress. It was a phone call on Saturday night when we started to get the news of the first Covid case in the family. Then the tsunami hit!  By Monday, six members of the family had come down with Covid then two more later in the week.

                OY vey! Just hearing that so many were sick was literally making me feel sick and really anxious. This nervous, vulnerable feeling was not like me.  The good news was that my family took it all in stride and mostly had mild cases ranging from very light cold symptoms to some coughs. They started a hilarious Whats App group with cartoons, tips, commiserating with each other and, and  kept everyone’s spirits up. There was a humorous discussion on the merit of jello molds which my sister makes (like my mom did) and my husband (maybe the only one in the family) really loves. My nephew put in a hilarious cartoon entitled, Thanksgiving 2023 with a man wearing a Hasmat suit.

                           This was all funny but maybe not so funny. Is this our destiny to be beleaguered by Covid with its new strains year after year? My brother in law came down with the flu so we had Covid and flu. Of course we don’t know where our family Covid originated. We thought perhaps from the Warrior game where some of the group went the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. My brother had flown in from LA. Who really knows? What we did learn is how contagious this virus is.

               Finally, almost five weeks from starting Covid on a Tuesday, I started to feel like myself.  It was almost like a switch was turned on. It is hard to explain feeling almost normal again but that day was a turning point for me. I felt less anxious and returned to exercising. Every day now  I am still filled with gratitude remembering too well what I just endured. All we pray for is good health for 2023.  

One thought on “Morocco, Part 2-Covid, Our Thanksgiving Covid Tsunami

  1. What an adventure! So sorry about all you had to endure but glad to hear that you’ve pulled out of this
    without long Covid. Looking forward to seeing you both again.

    Like

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