Wanjohi Githae, a reporter with the ‘Nation’
My battle with Covid-19: A reporter’s experience
Covid-19 was a distant disease I read and heard about until it hit me. My experience with the disease was gradual, rising slowly and painfully to a crescendo before dying down.
It all started on Wednesday July 22. I had scheduled a meeting with a news source at 9.30am in Nairobi city centre. Its customary for me to do morning jog, but on this day, I could hardly lift my head. I struggled to wake up and I had to push the meeting to 10.30am since I was determined to jog.
I finally managed to wake up but I could only do 2 kilometres. Beaten, I came back and prepared for the day. Come evening, I found myself in bed at 9pm. I just felt tired. That’s strange because I watch international news or read a book until midnight. Up to this moment I hadn’t suspected anything, but soon I would.
The next day I could not leave my bed. I was feeling tired, weary, and my appetite was gone. I slept the whole day and by evening, I had an irritating taste in my mouth.
Seek medical attention
On Friday, this had graduated to sweating. By Saturday, I could not take even fruits which my wife had been dutifully preparing. She urged me to seek medical attention. I said I would consider it. I thought that the bad symptoms I was feeling would go away, but I was mistaken.
On Sunday, I finally conceded. A friend of mine with whom we interacted closely had tested positive two days earlier and therefore there was no prices for guessing what I needed. My wife dutifully drove me to hospital, fully masked, where we were joined by my sister. The tests were done and we went back home to wait for results.
It takes 48 to 72 hours to get the results, that meant an excruciating three more days. By the time results finally came on Wednesday afternoon, I suspect I had been going in and out of consciousness.
I would sleep up to 18 hours a day. I had no appetite, I was sweating all the time, that irritating metallic taste in my mouth, fatigue and weariness that couldn’t be explained in words all played out in my body. My only refuge was water which I could take a jug at ago.
I was positive
When the results came out, I was positive. Now, going to hospital is always the last decision I make when I am sick. Perhaps it’s because as a child of about five, I had persistent attacks of malaria that had me admitted to Kerugoya District Hospital for days on end.
The broken window panes with torn curtains, rude nurses who would boil needles that were to inject me later and smelly wards are memories that I still have about hospitals.
But on the afternoon of July 29, I did not need to be nudged to go to hospital. I would later learn from the doctors that a day longer would have had me knocking on heaven’s doors. My intake of oxygen was very low.
We arrived at the hospital at 5pm, but I was not wheeled to the wards until past 10pm.
All this time, the hospital and the insurance firm were exchanging emails as I remained holed up in the car suffering silently.
When the Nation HR department had had enough, they fired a warning shot and the two sides agreed on the way forward. But even after a solution was found, an hour passed before I could finally be wheeled in. This happened even after we had offered to pay cash so that at least I could be taken to the wards as the rest of the money was processed the next day.
That same night, an X-ray test showed that beside Covid-19, I also had pneumonia. I was referred to the high dependency unit where I stayed for five days.
The doctors and nurses did an excellent job. Since there is no cure for Covid-19, the medics could only fight the symptoms. Soon I was eating and the offending metallic taste was gone.
After 11 days in hospital, I was discharged. None of my family members tested positive.
My overall lesson is that one should test immediately they experience a slight change in their bodies. I also learnt that the inability of the lungs to pump enough oxygen is what is making people die.
I have to profusely thank my wife and family, consultant physicians Dr Kairu, Dr Odok, Dr Oloo, Dr Brenda and nurses Kilonzo, Jackson, Winfred, Hawa, Ann and Jane, just to name a few, as well as support staff Catherine and Loyce. And all the professional colleagues and news sources who checked on me. You all played a key role in my recovery, may you be rewarded immensely.
Let’s all follow the Ministry of Health protocols: Keep social distance, sanitise and wash your hands.