And when he appeared down, he could not acknowledge himself. As soon as a 215-pound athlete with chiseled muscular tissues and astounding power, the 40-year-old appeared like a totally totally different particular person.

“I wakened and checked out my arms, my legs, and my muscular tissues have been gone,” he mentioned. “I used to be sort of freaking out, like the place are my legs? The place did my legs go?”

Ayyad is a coronavirus survivor.

Medical doctors had positioned him in an induced coma for 25 days to save lots of his life.

It has been just a little over two months since these touch-and-go days and he is nonetheless recovering. Nonetheless out of breath at instances. Nonetheless nursing the injury 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 towards coronavirus.

“It worries me so much seeing individuals take this frivolously,” he advised CNN on Tuesday. “I obtained it and survived, and I am nonetheless terrified.”

The way it all started

It began with an amazing feeling of weak spot.

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 lessons, and boxing, considered 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. Finally it was a excessive fever, complete lack of power and urge for food, and a problem respiratory.

Ayyad thought he had the flu.

However after considered one of his associates, 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.

Ayyad after waking up from a coma.

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.

The vast majority 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.

Ayyad grew to become the hospital’s third Covid-19 affected person and the primary to be positioned on a ventilator, John Hopkins mentioned.
Whereas medical doctors stay uncertain why the athlete was at extra danger, particularly with such good well being and no preexisting circumstances, “there could possibly be elements” they nonetheless do not totally perceive, Dr. Sandra Zaeh, who handled Ayyad within the hospital and continued to take care of him after he returned dwelling, mentioned in a hospital news release.

“It was extraordinarily emotional,” Ayyad mentioned. “I knew I’d be on this fully alone. Then I known as my good friend and advised him to select 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’d discuss to them. I did not know if I used to be about to die.”

What occurred subsequent

Ayyad does not know for certain when or the place he was uncovered to the virus. Every week earlier than he started displaying signs, he took a 3-day journey to Florida to go to his brother. It may have been then.

Ayyad after recovering from the coronavirus.

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 pressured to face far-off on a road and watch him go inside his house to self quarantine in solitude.

Each three days, she cooked for him Palestinian meals — stuffed grape leaves, Molokhia, Maqluba — and did her greatest to “fatten him again up,” he joked.

“I had nightmares each night time, calling the hospital at Three a.m. simply to ensure he was nonetheless alive,” Zeinab advised CNN.

How issues at the moment are

After almost a month with out strong meals, Ayyad clearly remembers the second he obtained to eat once more.

“It was apple sauce,” he mentioned. “I used to be so completely satisfied. That first chunk, it felt so satisfying. Effectively, earlier than I spotted I forgot find out how to swallow. It is like I did not keep in mind find out how to eat. I needed to be taught that over again. However I will not overlook the apple sauce.”

It wasn’t simply swallowing that the athlete needed to be taught over 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 price 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. Finally he was off the bed, squatting and strolling laps after laps. He was decided.

Ayyad 2 months after recovering from the virus.

After lastly going dwelling on April 22, Ayyad was 60 kilos lighter. He had a blood clot in his left arm, injury to his coronary heart and lungs, and spent the following month struggling to do something with out dropping his breath.

However on a regular basis, little by little, he was gaining again his weight — and muscular tissues.

“He appears to be making an amazing 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 dwelling. 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 nearly 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 anxious concerning the virus.

“Individuals are performing prefer it’s gone. It isn’t. Put on your masks. Do not collect in large teams. Deal with your self and the individuals round you,” Ayyad mentioned.

“Take it significantly. It isn’t a joke. It could possibly kill you, even should you assume you are wholesome and proof against it. You are not.”

He is aware of. He hopes others haven’t got to seek out out the arduous manner.