Learning along with the doctors
Noam Shuster Eliassi, a 33-year-old comedian from Tel Aviv, is being treated at a special department at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva for former coronavirus patients. She seems to have been infected on the way back from the United States after she spent several months in America and was about to launch a new show, “Coexistence My Ass.”
But the pandemic forced her to return to Israel, where, in isolation after her return, she developed a fever. “I started to feel a metallic taste, I lost my appetite and sense of smell,” she says. “I was coughing and my lungs were burning.”
Within a few days she had a hard time breathing; she fainted and was taken to Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem, Jerusalem. But even after she was released, she didn’t feel back to normal. “I felt very weak, in shock, and my appetite didn’t return,” she says.
Still, Shuster-Eliassi planned to donate plasma to help develop a treatment for the virus, but at the hospital, she learned that her hemoglobin levels were too low, a problem she never had before. “I left the hospital feeling like I had no purpose in the world,” she says.
She was eventually sent for a psychological evaluation and further follow-up. Her appetite hasn’t returned, and she still suffers from fatigue and weakness. The uncertainty is one of the hardest things to deal with.
“The medical people don’t really know what’s going on either,” she says. “When you have the flu, the doctors know what to tell you. Here that’s not the case. The doctors are very nice and it’s not their fault, but as a coronavirus patient you’re learning along with your doctors. It’s a surreal feeling.”
A few days ago, she posted on Twitter the clinic’s referral to her for psychological help. Messages of solidarity and support poured in.
“I’ve come to realize that coronavirus patients first deal with the disease and then with complicated feelings related to recovery and the fact that we don’t know what will be and what to do with ourselves,” she says.
Her main advice: “I’m young and I went through hell. This is already a very difficult time for all of us. So if you can manage not to get sick with the coronavirus while we’re in the middle of it, then don’t. It sucks.”