David Anzarouth's Story

David Anzarouth knew it could happen to anyone but never thought it would happen to him.

The fit 25-year-old living in Toronto didn't worry about taking his vacation to South Beach in Miami, Fla., in early March.

"I can't put into words how different this feels than anything I've ever experienced before," Anzarouth told CBC News.

He arrived in Miami on March 5 with his friend to take part in the Winter Party festival.

After a week of nightlife among thousands of people, travelling with a group of about 20 and sharing a hotel room with three others Anzarouth flew back on March 11. 

That's when things started to change. He said he felt "drugged" as if he was "completely out of it" during his Air Canada flight.

Anzarouth went straight to his apartment on Yonge Street, where he lives alone.

The most incredible pain I've ever experienced'

The next evening on March 12, the virus hit him full force.

"The minute I woke up, I was drenched in a pool of sweat. I was shaking. I was so cold. My head was pounding. It was something like I've never experienced before," Anzarouth said. 

"It was the most incredible pain I've ever experienced ... My body felt like I had been flattened."

He didn't know what was wrong, but whatever it was had left Anzarouth debilitated and bedridden until Saturday evening, two days later. Still, he couldn't stomach a slice of toast or hold himself up in the shower.

"There were points where I thought I might need to call 911 and to get picked up and to go to a hospital," Anzarouth said.

Anzarouth says despite exercising more than four times a week and eating healthily, COVID-19 hit him with symptoms that felt unlike anything he's ever experienced before.

That night, his mouth and throat began to feel parched, and he struggled to breathe as he lay in bed, sleeping for no longer than 30 minutes at a time.

"At that point I thought, 'I need to do something now,'" he said.

That night, he put on a mask he picked up from the airport and called an Uber to take him to Toronto General Hospital. He was out of the waiting area within 25 minutes and placed in a holding room while staff cleaned a different empty room for him to stay in. After that, Anzarouth said two doctors and a nurse spoke to him from behind a closed door. When they tested him for various strains of influenza and X-rayed his chest for pneumonia, each was covered in a full gown from head-to-toe. "The final swab for COVID-19 was an incredibly painful swab they stick far up one of your nostrils," Anzarouth said.

He left the hospital that night, not touching anything and returning to his apartment.

Four days after learning he is infected, Anzarouth is still recovering. He's taken some acetaminophen to help dull the symptoms, but there is no treatment yet for COVID-19. His body has to recover on its own. His friend, meanwhile, hasn't experienced any symptoms at all.

While COVID-19 can manifest differently in different people, and some have reported much milder symptoms than Anzarouth, he is hoping his story will catch the attention of those who still don't take the virus seriously.

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