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A month after she was considered recovered from Covid-19, musician and copywriter Wani Ardy found herself brushing her teeth with facial cleanser.
“I didn’t realise it at all. I took my facial cleanser, looked at it, put it on my toothbrush, but I didn’t register it as facial cleanser.
“When I was brushing my teeth, I couldn’t taste anything. It started bubbling. I was wondering why this toothpaste had more bubbles than before... then I realised I was brushing my teeth with my facial cleanser.”
Her mental slip-ups didn't stop at toiletries. Another day, she found herself parked outside of a shop, having no idea why she was there.
“I was supposed to go to the shop and get a big icebox for my ice cream. The moment I parked my car in front of the shop, I totally lost my memory of why I was here.”
She said what she experiences now is unlike before she was infected with Covid-19 when she would have instances where she would momentarily forget what she was supposed to do, but would be able to remember a second later.
The artiste may be experiencing “brain fog”, a condition where individuals experience disorientation and is a symptom of Post Covid-19 Syndrome, or popularly known as Long Covid.
According to Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, a minority of patients declared free of Covid-19 could still display symptoms like fatigue, difficulty breathing when carrying out activities, sleeping disorders, coughing, and anxiety for 12 weeks or more after being discharged.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also lists brain fog among the symptoms of Long Covid.
“Unlike some of the other types of post-Covid-19 conditions that only tend to occur in people who had severe illness, these symptoms can happen to anyone infected with Covid-19, even if the illness was mild, or if they had no initial symptoms,” it said.
Loss of income
For Wani, it means having to relearn basic routines in her daily life - something she likens to the protagonist of the movie 50 First Dates, whose short-term memory is erased every day.
“The other day, for 15 minutes I struggled to turn on the engine of my car because I was using my house key. I was forcing my house key into my car and wondering why it was not working.
“I had to sit down and take a deep breath, (because I was) thinking that something was going wrong. Only after a good 15 minutes that I realised I was using my house key.”
Her disorientation has meant that the freelance copywriter has been unable to work, putting a strain on her finances.
“I’m a writer, or at least I used to be before this affected me. I cannot write anymore.
“I’m losing my writing jobs because I cannot stay in front of my laptop and focus on my writing,” said Wani, who received her first Covid-19 vaccine dose on June 5.