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Oct 21, 2021

The COVID Chronicles: Marion Ali’s Road to Recovery

As many of you know, News Five’s Marion Ali is a veteran of the news scene in Belize. She has worked for decades in radio, print and television to get the story to you, her listeners, readers and viewers. Marion has always preferred to be behind the scenes.  So she is the last person you would expect to be in the news herself. But a recent bout with COVID-19 has prompted Marion to step forward and speak out.  Even though she was fully vaccinated, she spent several days in the hospital, fearing for her life, but vowing if she got out of there she would do what she can to help others.  And so, in tonight’s COVID Chronicles, we invite you to join News Five’s own Marion Ali as shows you that checking out of the KHMH was only one of many milestones to pass as she reclaims her life, stopping to catch her breath, but also appreciating everything just a little bit more, along the road to recovery.


Marion Ali

Marion Ali, COVID Survivor

“You still don’t really understand what it is like until you’re in that position and you have to fight for your own self. Mein, I tell you, that was a rough one — everything that COVID does to your body, because it just breaks you down in every way.”


Marion Ali, Reporting

That was me on Open Your Eyes one week ago trying to describe what COVID does to your body if you become one of the patients who, like me, have existing health issues and need to be hospitalized for COVID. I share more of my personal struggle now as I recover so that the people who still take COVID for a joke may see what survivors go through after hospitalization; so that you, who are still gathering with friends to have drinks and barbeque on the weekends or for birthday celebrations at someone else’s home may realize that the same people you are hugging and sharing drinks with could be infected and not know it. And you could catch it from them and pass it on to someone you love, who may not be as lucky as you. You can inadvertently cause the deaths of people you love and care about by simply being careless and irresponsible. I contracted the virus almost one month ago and it dealt me a serious blow. Despite all the home treatment of hot teas, boiled herbs with garlic and turmeric, and fruits, I needed hospitalization one week into my fight with COVID. A lung X-ray detected that I had developed pneumonia – a frightening situation for anyone, and even more so for someone who is hypertensive, obese and has a history of smoking. Smoking, as we all know damages the lungs. If you smoke, I urge you to stop so that if you happen to catch COVID, your lungs are not already compromised to fight it off. The hospitalization involved an aggressive cocktail of medication, taken both orally and intravenously or through the veins. Even that was a struggle, because the nurses had to constantly search my arms for a new vein since the aggressive treatment, couple with my smoking history, caused my veins to collapse after just a day of taking the IVs. It came to a point when the Head Nurse, Sister Casilda Bowman had to personally come and find a new vein after all on my arms had been used and collapsed, leaving large bruise marks on my skin. She found one on top of my right foot – another pain that I’d prefer to avoid again. Aside from the physical debilitations that the disease inflicted on my body, there was also the mental struggle I had to cope with. Seeing people die right beside and across from me in the ward as they struggled for air was not a pleasant experience and my own mind began to drift on thoughts of whether my condition would deteriorate or if I’d be spared a second chance at life. I took a picture of my hospital bed to look at daily and to tell myself that I’d get up out of it and walk out, rather than allow the disease to overcome me as it did those people and so many others.  I became friends with two other patients who were also struggling with COVID, but who, like me, did not need ventilation. We were a tiny army praying for ourselves and each other. Gospel music and each other’s encouraging words were necessary when one of us, or the other, was having an especially difficult day. Our commonality with COVID in that ward keeps us connected even today. COVID also delivers another blow to our pocket after hospitalization – that is to those of us who were lucky enough to not die. My hospital bill after eight days in the COVID ward stands at over seven thousand dollars. Personal Protective Equipment, the outfits that medical professionals use – those alone – cost me three thousand dollars, and that’s not half as costly as in the private setting. When I asked him about the costly hospitalization in the public setting, Prime Minister John Briceno said the Government will have to look at that issue.


Prime Minister John Briceno

“We have to see how we could address that matter, honestly, because a lot of people just would not be able to pay it, so let’s not fool ourselves, the Government will probably have to find a way to step in to be able to address that matter.”


While the Government has its own challenge addressing the cost COVID will deliver on our healthcare system, survivors with lasting symptoms, like myself, struggle still with the simple things we normally take for granted. Here you see me walking and everything looks normal, doesn’t it. Underneath my mask, I’m breathing through my mouth because shortness of breath is still very much an issue. This flight of stairs to get just to the second floor at work takes so much out of me… As people like me with damaged lungs recover, lung therapy is necessary in order that we can climb those stairs again without being on the verge of passing out.  I share my story because I want people to  see what  COVID survivors have to go through. I share my story because many COVID victims do not live to tell their story.  Many times we endure these debilitations because people continue to be selfish. All the backyard barbeques, the birthday celebrations, and the social drinking and gathering, and I wonder if at the end of all that celebration, if it is really worth all the pain and suffering, all the expenses, and losing so many people to COVID.

Marion Ali for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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