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When I nearly died from malaria

Samuel Sey malaria
Courtesy of Samuel Sey

Today is my eighth day with COVID symptoms. Well, I suppose it’s more accurate to say today is supposed to be my eighth day with COVID symptoms.

I received a positive test for COVID three days ago on Sunday, but I already knew I had COVID five days before that on Tuesday.

On that Tuesday, I developed a cough, fatigue and a fever. I knew immediately I had COVID.

I’m rarely sick. It’s uncommon for me to get a cold. And I think I’ve had the flu maybe once in my life — but the fever and fatigue I had from the flu were less mild than the symptoms I had last Tuesday.

Actually, one of the reasons why I was sure I had COVID last week is because my symptoms reminded me of when I had malaria — not the flu. And I’m grateful for that.

When I was 8 or 9 years old in Ghana, I nearly died from malaria.

I haven’t forgotten about that. How could I? How could a child forget knowing they came so close to losing their life?

However, in some ways, I had forgotten what it felt like — I had forgotten what it felt like when I was dying from malaria — until I had COVID.

My COVID symptoms didn’t make me feel like I was dying. Nor was I worried — I didn’t think I would die from COVID. However, COVID made me remember what it felt like when I was dying.

My COVID symptoms were mostly identical to my malaria symptoms. My malaria symptoms consisted of essentially a fever and fatigue too. However, they were much more severe — and I didn’t have the privilege of resting in a comfortable bed like I do now.

When I had malaria in Ghana, I didn’t have a bed. I was significantly poorer at the time. So I shivered on a mat on the floor for several weeks — before my almost lifeless body was carried to a hospital.

I was just a boy, but I knew I was dying. I knew I had become skin and bones. I had seen less frail children die at the hospital.

I was one of many children who was carried into that hospital. But I am one of the few children from the hospital who wasn’t carried out to a cemetery.

By the grace of God, I survived malaria. And I’m grateful I’m surviving COVID too.

Politicians and the media have made COVID more threatening than it really is. However, that doesn’t mean COVID isn’t threatening to some people. 30,000 Canadians and 5 million people around the world have died with COVID.

But by the grace of God, I’m a healthy, young man. And before I had COVID, I was taking seamoss, magnesium, and vitamin D3 every day to increase my immune system. I increased my intake of these vitamins and supplements after I developed COVID symptoms, and they’ve been extremely helpful.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, I developed a cough, a fever, and extreme fatigue. However, since then, I do not have anymore COVID symptoms besides mostly congestion and a relatively inconsistent cough.

I recently received a picture of me standing in front of a hospital shortly after I started recovering from malaria. That picture made me remember what I looked like when I nearly died from malaria. It’s the featured picture of this article.

However, that picture didn’t make me remember what it felt like when I was I dying from malaria. My COVID symptoms last week did that, and I’m grateful.


Originally published at Slow to Write

Samuel Sey is a Ghanaian-Canadian who lives in Brampton, a city just outside of Toronto. He is committed to addressing racial, cultural, and political issues with biblical theology, and always attempts to be quick to listen and slow to speak.

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