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He was an athlete in the best shape of his life. Then Covid-19 nearly killed him

(CNN)When Ahmad Ayyad woke up, he was delirious. He didn’t realize where he was, why there was a tube down his throat, or how long it had been since he last fed his dog. And when he looked down, he couldn’t recognize himself. Once a 215-pound athlete with chiseled muscles and astounding strength, the 40-year-old…

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He was an athlete in the best shape of his life. Then Covid-19 nearly killed him

(CNN)When Ahmad Ayyad woke up, he was delirious. He didn’t realize where he was, why there was a tube down his throat, or how long it had been since he last fed his dog. And when he looked down, he couldn’t recognize himself. Once a 215-pound athlete with chiseled muscles and astounding strength, the 40-year-old looked like a completely different person.”I woke up and looked at my arms, my legs, and my muscles were gone,” he said. “I was kind of freaking out, like where are my legs? Where did my legs go?”Ayyad is a coronavirus survivor. Doctors had placed him in an induced coma for 25 days to save his life. It’s been a little over two months since those touch-and-go days and he’s still recovering. Still out of breath at times. Still nursing the damage to his lung and heart. But he has a message — for those who refuse to wear a mask during this pandemic, for those dismissive of public health guidance, for those in the prime of their health and feel invincible against coronavirus. “It worries me a lot seeing people take this lightly,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “I got it and survived, and I’m still terrified.”How it all beganIt started with an overwhelming feeling of weakness. One week, Ayyad was running his own restaurant and club in Washington, DC while working at his family’s retail furniture business. He was racing marathons and competing in obstacle course races, taking weekly basketball classes, and boxing, one of his favorite sports.The next week, his entire life had changed. Walking up the stairs left him exhausted. So did cooking, talking, and driving. Then came the coughing and sneezing. Eventually it was a high fever, total loss of energy and appetite, and a difficulty breathing.Ayyad thought he had the flu. But after one of his friends, a physician assistant, urged him to go to the hospital, he took an Uber to Sibley Memorial Hospital on March 15. Their suspicions were confirmed; he tested positive for influenza and the coronavirus.His condition continued to worsen. He was placed on a ventilator and immediately transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he was put in an induced coma.The majority of coronavirus patients who are placed on ventilators are placed in an induced coma as they are usually too uncomfortable to stay relaxed with a tube down their throat, which makes them feel like they can’t breathe.Ayyad became the hospital’s third Covid-19 patient and the first to be placed on a ventilator, John Hopkins said. While doctors remain unsure why the athlete was at more risk, especially with such good health and no preexisting conditions, “there could be factors” they still don’t fully understand, Dr. Sandra Zaeh, who treated Ayyad in the hospital and continued to care for him after he returned home, said in a hospital news release.”It was extremely emotional,” Ayyad said. “I knew I would be in this completely alone. Then I called my friend and told him to pick up my dog. And that was it. I didn’t know what was coming. I didn’t know if this was the last time I would talk to them. I didn’t know if I was about to die.”What happened nextAyyad doesn’t know for sure when or where he was exposed to the virus. A week before he began showing symptoms, he took a 3-day trip to Florida to visit his brother. It could have been then.As he lay in a hospital bed, his family members were tormented they would lose him without even getting a chance to say goodbye.When his mom, Zeinab Ayyad, first laid eyes on her son after he was released, she burst into tears. She longed to hold her son in her arms. Instead, she was forced to stand far away on a street and watch him go inside his apartment to self quarantine in solitude.Every three days, she cooked for him Palestinian meals — stuffed grape leaves, Molokhia, Maqluba — and did her best to “fatten him back up,” he joked.”I had nightmares every night, calling the hospital at 3 a.m. just to make sure he was still alive,” Zeinab told CNN.How things are now After nearly a month without solid food, Ayyad clearly remembers the moment he got to eat again.”It was apple sauce,” he said. “I was so happy. That first bite, it felt so satisfying. Well, before I realized I forgot how to swallow. It’s like I didn’t remember how to eat. I had to learn that all over again. But I won’t forget the apple sauce.”It wasn’t just swallowing that the athlete had to learn all over again. He couldn’t talk or walk either. For the next three weeks, every movement knocked the breath out of him, raising his heart rate and leaving him gasping for air.But he was far from discouraged. Every day, Ayyad tried something new. First he started with leg extensions from his hospital bed using the blankets. Then it was side lunges. Eventually he was out of bed, squatting and walking laps after laps. He was determined.After finally going home on April 22, Ayyad was 60 pounds lighter. He had a blood clot in his left arm, damage to his heart and lungs, and spent the next month struggling to do anything without losing his breath. But everyday, little by little, he was gaining back his weight — and muscles. “He seems to be making a great recovery,” Zaeh, the doctor, said.”It was remarkable to go from seeing him at his sickest in the ICU — intubated, deeply sedated and on his stomach to help him breathe — to seeing him at home. He was smiling and talking about how happy he was to go for a short jog and sit outside with the sun on his face,” Zaeh said.Ayyad is now almost back to normal. While he’s back to boxing, working out everyday, playing basketball and hopefully running marathons soon enough, he’s still worried about the virus.”People are acting like it’s gone. It’s not. Wear your mask. Don’t gather in big groups. Take care of yourself and the people around you,” Ayyad said. “Take it seriously. It’s not a joke. It can kill you, even if you think you’re healthy and immune to it. You’re not.”He knows. He hopes others don’t have to find out the hard way.
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Analysis: Why it could be a Biden blowout in November

(CNN)Poll of the week: A new ABC News/Washington Post poll from Minnesota finds Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a 57% to 41% lead over President Donald Trump among likely voters. Two other Minnesota polls released over the last few weeks by CBS News/YouGov and New York Times/Siena College have Biden up by nine points.…

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Analysis: Why it could be a Biden blowout in November

(CNN)Poll of the week: A new ABC News/Washington Post poll from Minnesota finds Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a 57% to 41% lead over President Donald Trump among likely voters. Two other Minnesota polls released over the last few weeks by CBS News/YouGov and New York Times/Siena College have Biden up by nine points. What’s the point: The Trump campaign has made a significant investment into turning Minnesota red, after Trump lost it by 1.5 points in 2016. The polling shows his efforts are not working.They are part of a larger sign suggesting that Trump still has a ways to go to win not just in Minnesota but over the electoral map at-large. If his campaign was truly competitive at this point, he’d likely be closer in Minnesota. One day Trump may get there, and he definitely has a shot of winning with still over a month to go in the campaign. Yet, it should also be pointed out that despite folks like me usually focusing on how Trump can close the gap with Biden and put new states into play, there’s another side to this equation. There is also the distinct possibility that Biden blows Trump out. It’s something I’ve noted before, and the Washington Post’s David Byler pointed out a few weeks ago. If you were to look at the polling right now, there’s a pretty clear picture. Biden has leads of somewhere between five and eight points in a number of states Trump won four years ago: Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Those plus the states Hillary Clinton won get Biden to about 290 electoral votes. If you add on the other states where Biden has at least a nominal edge in the averages (Florida and North Carolina), Biden is above 330 electoral votes. That’s not quite at blowout levels, but look at the polling in places like Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas. We’re not really talking about those places right now, even though one or both campaigns have fairly major advertising investments planned down the stretch in all four. The polling there has been fairly limited, but it’s been pretty consistent. Biden is quite competitive. If you were to do an aggregation of the polls that are available in those states, Biden’s down maybe a point or two at most. In other words, Biden’s much closer to leading in Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas than Trump is in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, let alone Minnesota. Indeed, it’s quite possible he’s actually up in either Georgia, Iowa, Ohio or Texas, and we just don’t know it because there isn’t enough fresh data. For example, Clinton only lost in Georgia by five points in 2016, and Biden’s doing about five points better in the national polls than she did in the final vote. It would make sense, therefore, that Biden’s quite close to Trump there at this point. Wins in any of those states by Biden could push his Electoral College tally up to about 340 electoral votes or higher, depending on which states Biden wins. Victories in all four would push him well over 400 electoral votes.Models such as those produced by FiveThirtyEight show just how possible it is for Biden to blow Trump out of the water. The model actually anticipates a better chance of Trump closing his deficit than Biden expanding it. Even so, Biden has a better chance (about 45%) of winning 340 electoral votes than Trump has of winning the election (about 25%). Biden’s chance of taking 400 electoral votes is pretty much the same of Trump winning. Of course, the ramifications of a Biden blowout versus a small Biden win aren’t anywhere close to being the same as a small Biden win versus a small Trump win. It’s easy to understand why the focus of a potential error is on Trump benefiting from it. In 2012, however, we saw the leading candidate (Barack Obama) win pretty much all of the close states.In fact, there’s no reason to think that any polling error at the end of the campaign won’t benefit the candidate who is already ahead. That’s happened plenty of times. Whether it be Obama in 2012 or most infamously Ronald Reagan in 1980. The thing to keep in mind is that it is possible one candidate runs the board because polling errors are correlated across states. That’s exactly what happened in 2016, when Trump won most of the close states. This year we just don’t know how it’s going to play out. Just keep in mind that the potential change in this race could go to Biden’s benefit as well as Trump’s. Before we bid adieu: The theme song of the week is the closing credits to Murphy Brown.
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At least 40 rounds were fired during shooting that left two dead at a party in New York

(CNN)At least 40 rounds were fired during a shooting that left two people dead and over a dozen others injured at a house party in upstate New York, authorities said.The party in Rochester started early Saturday as an invite-only event before it eventually grew in size after two nearby parties “infiltrated” the house. Three or…

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At least 40 rounds were fired during shooting that left two dead at a party in New York

(CNN)At least 40 rounds were fired during a shooting that left two people dead and over a dozen others injured at a house party in upstate New York, authorities said.The party in Rochester started early Saturday as an invite-only event before it eventually grew in size after two nearby parties “infiltrated” the house. Three or four people had handguns, Capt. Frank Umbrino said. The two people killed and 14 wounded were in their late teens to early 20s. Police responded to calls of gunshots around 12:25 a.m. and were met with 100 to 200 people attempting to flee on foot and in vehicles, he said. Those killed did not live at the home and they were not the intended targets, Umbrino said. No suspects were in custody, and no motive was immediately known.”A number of our young people — babies — that came to just hang out a little while … left running for their lives. And that’s just something that we cannot have happen,” Mayor Lovely Warren said during a visit to the neighborhood Saturday. The party’s host told her she “invited a couple friends over, who invited a couple friends over who invited a couple friends over.””And it just got out of control. She’s just traumatized,” Warren said.Warren appealed for calm and healing in a city recently roiled by protests in a different high-profile case — the death of Daniel Prude after an encounter with police earlier this year.The party took place despite several restrictions on gatherings. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the city has told residents to limit social gatherings to household members and not to gather in groups.Additionally, since July, the city has banned gatherings of more than five people from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. to curb what the city said was a rise in violence.Police were not aware of the party beforehand, and had not received any calls for disturbance, Acting Police Chief Mark Simmons said.The shooting comes as the city and police department deal with the case of Prude, who died in March after Rochester police pinned him to the ground. The release of body camera footage this month led to protests and accusations that local leaders hid details about Prude’s death from the public.This week, Simmons succeeded the previous chief, who was fired over the fallout. A New York City law firm is leading an independent investigation into the city’s handling of the case. Also, New York ‘s attorney general has said she would empanel a grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.CNN’s Jason Hanna, Christina Maxouris, Alec Snyder and Alta Spells contributed to this report.
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Thai activists install symbolic plaque

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Thai activists install symbolic plaque

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Reuters

Anti-government protesters have installed a plaque declaring Thailand “belongs to the people”, in a bold show of opposition to the monarchy. The plaque was laid near Bangkok’s Grand Palace in the latest challenge to Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn.Student-led protests calling for reform of the country’s monarchy and political system have been going on since July.Saturday saw one of the biggest protests in years, with thousands defying authorities to demand change.The calls for royal reform at these protests are particularly sensitive in Thailand, with criticism of the monarchy punishable by long prison sentences.Protesters are also demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who took power in a 2014 coup and won disputed elections last year.
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Media captionThousands gathered in the Thai capital for Saturday’s protestsOn Sunday morning, student activists cemented a commemorative “People’s Plaque” close to a field known as Sanam Luang, or Royal Field. The plaque, dated 20 September, 2020, proclaims in Thai: “The people have expressed the intention that this country belongs to the people, and not the king.”Organisers said the plaque was a replacement for another marking the end of absolute monarchy in the 1930s, which went missing in 2017.Cheers erupted as activists installed the new plaque, with protesters chanting: “Down with feudalism, long live the people.”Police did not intervene and there were no reports of violence. A spokesman for the Thai government told Reuters news agency police would not use violence against protesters.

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Reuters

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Student protest leaders handed over a letter of demands to the king’s Royal Guard police

Later on, protesters who had planned to march to Government House were blocked from doing so by hundreds of unarmed police manning crowd control barriers.Instead, the protesters marched to hand a letter of demands for reform of the monarchy to the king’s Royal Guard police.Protest leaders declared victory after saying Royal Guard police had agreed to pass on their demands to police headquarters. There has been no comment from the police.”Our greatest victory in the two days is to show that ordinary people like us can send a letter to royals,” protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak said, telling crowds to return for another demonstration next week.Why are there protests?Thailand has a long history of political unrest and protest, but a new wave began in February after a court ordered a fledgling pro-democracy opposition party to dissolve.

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Reuters

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Protesters were on the streets of Bangkok again on Sunday

The Future Forward Party (FFP) had proved particularly popular with young, first-time voters and garnered the third-largest share of parliamentary seats in the March 2019 election, which was won by the incumbent military leadership.Protests were re-energised in June when prominent pro-democracy activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit went missing in Cambodia, where he had been in exile since the 2014 military coup. His whereabouts remain unknown and protesters accuse the Thai state of orchestrating his kidnapping – something the police and government have denied. Since July there have been regular student-led street protests. Demonstrators have demanded that the government headed by Prime Minister Chan-ocha, a former army chief who seized power in the coup, be dissolved; that the constitution be rewritten; that the authorities stop harassing critics.What is different this time?The demands of protesters took an unprecedented turn last month when a 10-point call for reform to the monarchy was read out at one rally. The move sent shockwaves through a country which is taught from birth to revere and love the monarchy and fear the consequences of talking about it.

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EPA

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Protesters want Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to step down

The young woman who delivered the manifesto, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, has said their intention “is not to destroy the monarchy but to modernise it, to adapt it to our society”.But she and her fellow activists have been accused of “chung chart” – a Thai term meaning “hatred of the nation” – and they say they are deeply fearful of the consequences of doing “the right thing” by speaking out.What are the laws protecting the monarchy?Each of Thailand’s 19 constitutions of modern times has stated, at the top, that: “The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship” and that “no person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action”.These provisions are backed by article 112 of the criminal code, known as the lese-majeste law, which subjects anyone criticising the royal family to secret trials and long prison sentences.The definition of what constitutes an insult to the monarchy is unclear and human rights groups say the law has often been used as a political tool to curb free speech and opposition calls for reform and change.The law had been increasingly enforced in the years after the 2014 coup, although it has slowed since King Vajiralongkorn let it be known he no longer wanted it to be so widely used. But observers say the government has used other legal routes, including the sedition law, to target dissent.

More on Thailand’s protests:
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Media captionThe anti-government rally in Bangkok is thought to be the biggest in Thailand for six years
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