Paul Prem Nadama shares his personal experience and insight.
Foreword: Before I begin, please understand that this article is primarily about MY experience with Covid-19, and the feelings, thoughts, pains and challenges it brought up within ME.
Some people’s lives have been severely affected by the Pandemic, physically, emotionally and financially. Yet there are others who tell me they have hardly been affected at all, and have seen this time as a long holiday off work.
But I am acutely aware that everyone has their own opinions about this pandemic, and what’s ‘going on’; ranging from the ultra-cautious, ‘stay safe’ compliant people, to the less fearful and more casual, all the way to conspiracy theories about alien lizards controlling 5G masts. Even denying that it’s a virus at all. I respect you all. I’m sure you all have very valid reasons for your opinion.
If you know me you would know that I’m not a man that jumps on ‘bandwagons’ without tuning into my own intuition.
I have had plenty of time to read some of these ‘theories’. I do know I had to mostly detach from both news and social media for a while, as the relentless bombardment of conflicting information was not helping me.
It’s also possible you may not know anyone who has suffered any form of Covid-19, great or small. Well, if you read this, you do now…
So if you think reading a detailed account of my Journey through Covid-19 may cause you any anxiety, then maybe this is not for you.
The last time I wrote something for Osho News was a couple of years ago. I described how I combined my life in the egocentric world of mainstream Television in UK with my more holistic, ‘spiritual’ life as a singer-songwriter-guitarist of conscious or ‘new-age’ songs and mantras. Some of you may have seen or heard me in Arillas, Corfu.
Here we are two years later, and both those ‘lives’ are currently wiped out by the Corona Pandemic lockdown. Everything I do in both those worlds involves audiences or groups of people in public venues, theatres or studios. It’s becoming clear this will be one of the last areas where the restrictions will be lifted. I have lost two entire TV series and my new Music Tribute Show ‘Fire and Rain & American Pie’ has had all theatre dates postponed.
So at time of writing this, my family and I find ourselves, like many others, in a financial mess, and being self-employed, the assistance from government looks like being poor.
Therefore we were already in a state of shock in mid-March, letting this reality sink in, when on March 15th, I began to feel unpleasant flu-like body aches and pains, and a day or so later a nasty dry cough… We had all seen the news by then, and it matched what we were being told were the first symptoms of Covid-19, caused by this new coronavirus. I had been a week in London discussing plans for a new show, and seeing my son in his theatre show, among other things, before flying back to where we live in Spain. So it’s likely I ‘caught’ the virus in London.
At that time, mid-March, one of the British TV companies I work for were still optimistically intending to go ahead with the show in the studio, and asked me to get a Covid test done while still in Spain. I arranged this privately, and sure enough two days later, I was confirmed positive.
I had caught Covid-19. As the doctor confirmed this on the phone, I felt my body tighten with a little anxiety, unusual for me. Up to that point I had not been at all worried, even been a bit dismissive of the fear-mongering press and media.
But now – I confess – I was a little bit troubled.
Spain, by then, were already having many more cases, and deaths, than any other European country other than Italy. And the numbers were rising quickly every day.
Initially, after a few days of these aches, pains and cough, I actually felt a bit better. I even remember telling some people that if that was ‘it’ then there’s nothing to worry about. I am 63, I play Tennis regularly, music gigs, I eat ok-ish (!), I don’t smoke, rarely drink alcohol, no ‘underlying health issues’. I don’t think my immune system was weak.
I had beaten it at the first hurdle, Yay!
Then, one night, a couple of days later, things changed.
I woke up in the middle of the night, I saw 2am on the clock, and sat upright.
The reason my body had woke me up was because my breathing was poor. I immediately found myself struggling to inhale properly, and I was breathing very quickly but shallow. And the cough, which up to then hadn’t seemed so bad, was now worse, and felt like it had ‘blocked’ part of my windpipe. I tried moving, walking about, then jumping, thumping my chest with my fist, trying to unblock what I felt was restricting my breath.
At one point I was even chanting mantras as the vibrations of the singing were helping to loosen my chest. I took the remains of an old cough mixture, and a thyme-honey tea. All this eventually helped calm it down and I could breathe a bit better. I did fall asleep again.
But by the following day it was clear: I needed to call a doctor.
Long story short, I was taken to our nearest hospital, IMED in Benidorm, 12km away (a town I have never chosen to visit as it’s mostly famous for it’s wild nightlife and drunken Brits..!).
Within 20 minutes of arriving at the hospital, I had received many blood tests, multiple chest scans, an ECG and various other checks.
When the doctor called me in my room, he informed me the Covid-19 had become quite severe. My white blood cell count was very low, and my chest scans showed the shadowing which they know is what Covid-19 does to your respiratory system. It was good that I had been taken to hospital; the first time in my 63 years…
I was in a room with one other guy, who seemed in better shape than me; he had been there a while. But he told me he had lost a dancing friend to Covid-19. I started to become very emotional, very tearful.
By this time I was feeling very ill; very weak, exhausted with the pains and not being able to breathe properly. In addition I could not sleep for too long as I was worried I would wake up struggling for breath again.
I even set my phone as an alarm to wake me up after two hours. My instinct told me it was unwise to sleep too long… my tears came regularly.
I was being given oxygen via a tube, an antibiotic drip ( for the ‘pneumonia’), and various other injections and tablets. I honestly don’t know what all of it was. But as there is no cure for Covid-19 they basically attack the symptoms with everything they can to give you a chance to recover.
I know one of the drugs was hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria tablet that you may have read about in the news.
My wife texted me regularly, one of which said, ‘If you die in a hospital in Benidorm I’ll divorce you!’
Dark humour indeed. Made me laugh out loud!
What she did’nt know at that moment was that overnight I was woken twice by sounds through the walls from the room next to me. Awful, gut-wrenching sounds, of a human being hanging in there, fighting to stay alive.
Again I could not stop the tears. I just allowed them to flow.
But these tears were not for me, they were for everyone suffering with this all over the world. It felt like we were all connected via this disease in some way, and I was crying with compassion for everyone, everywhere. I cannot explain that. It’s just my gut feeling.
So, let me be clear. I totally understand how Covid-19 can end lives.
For me, it was a real thing, a very debilitating virus that kind of sneaks up on you and can turn serious very quickly. I realise now that even when I thought I had beaten it, that the virus was still spreading and wiping out my immune system before attacking my lungs.
But, as I lay there, in a kind of meditative, emotional state, with my cough and body pains coming and going with painkillers, something in me surrendered. Now and then I checked my phone, just to read the many beautiful, heartfelt messages from all over the world (I had posted one photo of me when I was admitted to hospital).
If any of you are reading this, I thank you, bless you all.
These messages did lift my spirits and made me smile.
I deleted most of those funny videos that were flying around, but I was drawn to articles that had begun to appear describing how the planet had changed in just a few weeks. Since most car journeys and aircraft flights have stopped, the air pollution is 60% down in cities. The oceans have less pollution from motor boats and jet-skis. Fish are able to breed uninterrupted and not be hacked by propellers. Animals are wandering around the empty streets in villages. Dolphins swimming near the shores of beaches, which hadn’t been seen in decades. I’m sure you all have your own example, wherever you are, of how our Planet is healing itself, and so quickly.
Finally we have undeniable proof that Mother Earth and some of it’s inhabitants can recover from the devastation we humans have brought upon it, if we just stop for a while. So maybe, just maybe this is what Covid-19 is about.
As I lay there reading these articles about the Earth and watching a beautiful video, a letter written from the perspective of the virus… I came to realise that I must not view this ‘thing’ as an enemy, which up to then I had done.
It is not an enemy. It is a messenger.
Yes, it is a messenger with a horrible and devastating way to get our attention. It has caused a huge amount of human pain, loss, grief, and of course economic chaos. But the message has to be that devastating to wake more people up? Especially some world leaders…
I won’t go into politics here…
This is not a spiritual ‘by-pass’.
I have not suddenly gone into a ‘Ted Talk’! That is not what I do.
I repeat, I have cried and cried with compassion for the real human suffering that is still going on as a result of Covid-19.
At this point, I want to hand-on-heart give my praise and gratitude for the armies of angels who came to me day and night, and in the hospitals everywhere. Clad in plastic, masks, goggles, they march cheerfully into rooms of very ill people to help us resist this virus, knowing they could well catch it too.
I am in awe of what you do, bless you all.
For me, the message from the virus is clear.
STOP, just STOP. Take your time (which it has given us all) and have a close look at everything we do, individually in our own lives, and globally. I know I am not alone in the realisation that this has provided an extraordinary opportunity to stop and look at what we are all doing.
In a recent song of mine, called ‘Coming Home’, one of my lyrics is:
“Adversity, my dear old friend, He’s the only Guru I recommend…”
On my fourth day in hospital I woke up for the first time without pain… First time in two weeks! The last lot of painkillers must have worn off.
That’s when I knew I was going to be ok. For sure I was still very weak, Knackered! (as we say in English), and the cough was very much still there. But the pains came and went, and I had longer periods of feeling more myself. Now all I could feel was profound relief and gratitude.
And more tears.
I came home a couple of days later, and my recovery was another couple of weeks in all. There is still a bit of cough, as I read there is often ‘scarring’ in the lungs from the Covid-19, which takes a while to heal up.
I had been quietly thinking that at least I am now immune to this coronavirus, as initially the ‘health experts’ were saying that ‘herd-immunity’ was a good idea (remember that idea in UK six weeks ago?).
Now the ‘experts’ say there is ‘no evidence’ that catching Covid-19 gives you immunity, Ha! So after all that, apparently I could still catch it again, not very reassuring…
So while the ‘health experts’ pontificate over how to proceed with the rules for the coming months, I at least have my own experience to BE with.
I have stopped, apart from giving my online Facebook ‘live’ concerts! Mostly I am enjoying the nothingness of my existence right now. Spending time with my beloved Luna and daughter Isabel.
Meantime, in the midst of all this, in Nottingham UK, my eldest daughter gave birth to a baby boy. I am now a Grandad!
Of course when things open up again, some of what I do will return. But I will be very mindful of how much I really need to do, and how many journeys will I really need to make…
One of them will be to visit my Grandson…