A young woman will never taste or smell again after being struck by Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic and sustaining permanent nerve and lung damage.
Livia Bowman, 29, from the Tweed region of New South Wales, traveled to Ireland on March 6 last year and returned to Australia on March 16 with no immediate symptoms.
But in the days following her return, the young woman developed a fever, lower back pain and struggled to breathe — her experience compared to that of “someone sitting on my chest.”
She was tested for Covid on March 19th and got a positive result the next day before spending any money five days in the hospital to recover from the deadly virus.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Ms Bowman revealed the permanent memories she has had of the terrifying experience – and why the rest of Australian young people should follow strict restrictions across the country to the letter.
Livia Bowman, 29, from the Tweed region of New South Wales, contracted Covid-19 in March last year and spent five days in hospital
“The hospital stint was clearly very unnerving as it was March 2020, just when the pandemic really took off and nobody really knew about it or how to treat it,” she said.
“I now have scars on the lungs and also permanent nerve damage, which means I have lost my sense of taste and smell forever.”
She said losing her senses was extremely frustrating and despite seeing ear, nose and throat specialists, she was told there was nothing that could be done to undo the damage.
“Now I actually eat and drink because I know I have to do it to stay alive and healthy, not because I look at something and think ‘hmm this looks good or this drink is good,'” she said.
Mrs Bowman said she was having trouble breathing and had a constant fever (pictured is her hospital room)
“I could literally sprinkle my meals with dirt without noticing.”
The 29-year-old revealed that before she got the virus, she had underlying health conditions, including a 50 percent lung capacity and only one kidney.
Mrs. Bowman was also born with her digestive organs on the outside of her body.
LIVIA BOWMAN’S COVID-19 TIMELINE
Livia Bowman traveled from Australia to Ireland on March 6, 2020.
She returned on March 16.
She began to feel unwell and was given a Covid test on March 19.
On March 20, she tested positive.
She then spent five days in the hospital and was released. The young woman spent a total of a month in isolation.
She suffered permanent nerve damage and has lost her sense of smell and taste for life.
Mrs Bowman also has scars on her lungs.
But doctors were unable to confirm whether Ms Bowman’s previous health problems affected her recovery from the virus.
She said that after returning to Brisbane from Ireland, there were hardly any resources the government used to track down the virus.
“Back then there were no QR codes and contact tracing was new, so they relied heavily on honesty and memory about which stores and times I had been to the airport,” she said.
“The same was true of what my flight numbers were and my seats to try and notify those on the same flight and section as me.”
Within days of her arrival in Australia, she began to feel the symptoms of the virus, now that millions of people around the world have come to know about it.
Ms Bowman said she believes she contracted the disease during her layover in Dubai.
“My first symptoms were a dull ache in the lower back, with a temperature and chills gradually progressing to a headache, stuffy nose, mild dizziness and difficulty breathing,” she said.
“The best way to describe that is someone is constantly pushing or sitting on my chest.”
Ms Bowman was released from hospital after five days after health workers found it wasn’t getting any worse.
In total, she spent a month in isolation while recovering from the virus.
“At the hospital, they monitored my heart rate and blood pressure closely and gave me paracetamol if the body aches flared up,” she said.
When sharing a photo of the inside of her hospital room, a yellow warning tape that reads “Stop – do not cross” is seen on the floor, preventing her and her fellow patients from leaving the area.
The 29-year-old also suffered a lung pneumothorax, which occurs when air gets trapped between the lungs and the chest wall, causing the lung to collapse.
The 29-year-old spent a month in isolation while recovering from the virus. She also had lung scars
Pneumothorax can take several months to heal after treatment is needed, which in some cases means surgery.
“The doctors were absolutely amazed, given my already underlying health conditions, that I didn’t need any kind of help, like a ventilator,” she said.
“They couldn’t explain why or how, but they just wrote it out luck that I didn’t get a worse form of the virus.”
While compared to some coronavirus cases, Ms Bowman says her attack has been relatively mild, she has urged others to realize that each victim will have a different experience.
Ms Bowman was released from hospital after five days after health workers found she wasn’t getting any worse
“Everyone will deal with it differently, some may recover faster than others, while some may not be so lucky,” she said.
Australia has lost 912 people to the deadly virus and has seen more than 31,000 test positives.
Greater Sydney has been in lockdown for three weeks triggered by an explosion of cases linked to an unvaccinated limousine driver at an airport.
The outbreak of the highly contagious Indian Delta variant that began on June 16 in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has now reached 1,026 infections after 97 new cases were registered on Friday.
The home orders would end on Friday, but will last at least two weeks until July 30.
Victoria has also been thrown into a five-day lockdown after the outbreak in Sydney spread to the southern state via movers.
Only ten cases were reported on Friday – but four of those were already announced on Thursday.
There are now 24 cases linked to the outbreak, with 1,500 close contacts and 5,000 secondary contacts.