“When I went to [Sibley Memorial Hospital in D.C.] and they intubated me and I woke up in Baltimore at [Johns Hopkins Hospital],” Ayyad said. “I had this tube and all these things connected to me. I texted my best friend ‘I think I’m going to die.'”
In March, Ayyad was starting to feel weak and a little under the weather when talk of COVID-19 spreading across the United States was just starting. With no coughing or fever, Ayyad said at first he thought it was just a cold, but after a few days he found that he wasn’t getting better.
“I went to the hospital just to get medication, then I went to Sibley and they put me in and the next thing you know, it’s oxygen and they might have to put you into a coma. And at that point, you’re like ‘What, woah, me?'”
Ayyad said he was one of the first people in Hopkins with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
“I was a guinea pig,” Ayyad said. “They didn’t know much of what to do with me about how to help me. They didn’t really have the knowledge that we have now.”
As he was lying in the hospital, Ayyad said he not only had to tell his parents what was happening but had to warn them away from coming to the hospital to see him in what might have been his final hours. Even after the disease has passed, Ayyad said that’s the part that still haunts him. Ayyad said he still thinks of what his parents went through: crying themselves to sleep and waking up at 6 a.m. to call the doctor just to hear that Ayyad is still stable.
“The hardest thing was hearing what my parents went through,” Ayyad said.
Meanwhile, Ayyad said being in quarantine inside the hospital was a lonely and isolating experience.
“You’re kind of, like, stuck on an island by yourself and you have no one to talk to or encourage you, anything to feel like you have someone on your side,” Ayyad said. “You’re just stuck in the room.”
Recovery for Ayyad has been slow, especially for someone who said he took a lot of pride in being in shape. Even over a month after his release, Ayyad said he still suffers shortness of breath when he works out. Progress has been a slow build: from moving around on a walker to walks around the neighborhood and eventually to weight training.
Ayyad, a fitness buff and marathon runner, lost 60 pounds and much of his muscle tone while in the hospital.
“My determination has never been higher,” he said. “You look in the mirror and see the COVID in your body. I’m determined to get my body back to what it looked like before.”
After his release, Ayyad said he’s been very wary of the virus and its spread through the community. In the early days of the pandemic, Ayyad admitted to being a little cavalier about activity, including a trip to Florida the week before he started showing symptoms.
Having the virus changed that, and Ayyad said he’s not only wary but tries to warn his friends against being too active.
“I wonder if we will ever get back to normalcy,” Ayyad said. “I’m still nervous as I go out. People come in for a hug, and I don’t want the hug. People are texting you, calling you, messaging you and when you run into them they want to touch you and it’s hard to say no. Sometimes you’re just like ‘Please don’t have COVID.'”
Ayyad said he’s become particularly been concerned about his parents.
“You’re a lot more protective of your parents, saying ‘why are you going to the grocery store all the time?'” he said.
Ayyad said he still gets flashbacks to the hospital whenever he hears stories about COVID-19. He said he’s still trying to wrap his mind around what happened.
“Coming back home, walking into my house, it’s a feeling that it’s somewhat over,” Ayyad said. “[But] you still don’t know what happened. I’d been awake for a little over two weeks and you’re still trying to put together what happened.”
Photos courtesy Ahmad Ayyad
The disciplinary process for federal employees including the appeal process is discussed in Legal Insider.
An Arlington County police officer has been arrested and charged with seriously injuring a woman while off duty.
The Arlington-based mobile app Sandboxx plans to roll out a new chatroom feature for military recruits and their families, in an attempt to increase communication and minimize dropouts.
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Signature Theatre just released single tickets for all 33rd season productions, which highlights the organization’s long-time relationship with legendary composer Stephen Sondheim. Beginning with the musical adaptation of The Color Purple and irreverent No Place to Go, the season continues with three Sondheim musicals, the DC premieres of Off-Broadway hit Which Way to the Stage and Pulitzer Prize finalist Selling Kabul, the Tony Award®-winning rock musical Passing Strange, and return of Signature’s cabaret series honoring legendary artists.
“Last November, the world lost an icon. The death of Stephen Sondheim was a blow to everyone in the theater community. Signature Theatre would not be the same without Sondheim — he IS Signature’s ‘signature.’ This season, we are honoring the legend with productions of Into the Woods, Pacific Overtures and Sweeney Todd dedicated to his memory. These shows represent the diversity and range of Sondheim,” said Signature’s Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner about the new season.
“Probing the highly imaginative, inspired mind of Teresa Oaxaca is not altogether unlike having a present-day conversation with an Old Master,” says Nashville Arts Magazine.
Here is an unusual opportunity to learn from this incredibly talented and accessible artist, at Art House 7’s two-day oil painting workshop in October. Teresa will give 2 portrait painting demonstrations for 3 hours each morning. Students will then be painting from a clothed live model. Teresa will offer individual critiques that focus on materials, techniques, process and artistic vision. You’ll get jazzed up about painting and become more confident about your abilities.
Art House 7, Two-Day Oil Painting Workshop with Teresa Oaxaca. Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. EDT $250.
See more about Teresa Oaxaca here. Art House 7 5537 Langston Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22207
Are you ready to buy your first home, but concerned about saving for a down payment? Grab a drink and join us for 45 minutes to learn more about how you can buy your first house with 3%, 5%, or