Editor’s note: This is true and not a conjured story, the identity of the man at the center of this inspiring story remains anonymous for fear of stigmatization
Despite the fact that Coronavirus has been declared pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), ravaging the world, killing both young and old, some Nigerians are still skeptical about the existence of this disease in the country. As at 14th of July, 2020, according to Nigeria Center for Disease and Control (NCDC), 33, 616 cases of infection have been recorded with a total number of 754 Nigerians have lost their lives to this deadly disease.
One may not readily doubt the skepticism from cross sections of Nigerians simply because the numbers that have succumbed to it are infinitesimal compared to about 200 million total population of Nigerians.
We may however, be gracious to God, federal and state governments, multilateral agencies and our tropical weather that Africa and Nigeria have not recorded high number of cases of deaths like USA, Brazil, Italy, but we must not diminish the existence of Coronavirus in Nigeria. In the course of educating others the need to be more cautious and in taking preventive measures against this deadly disease, I have been challenged by many if I have seen anyone close to me that has been infected.
Of course my answer used to be No.
Little did I know that on June 28th, 2020, a dear friend of mine was been driven in an ambulance to an isolation center at Landmark Lekki center when I called him on the phone to check on his well being. While we were chatting, I inquired from him about the chilling noise of siren in the background. Not wanting to put me on an edge, he waved it off and ascribed it to the usual noisy hustle and bustle of Lagos state.
On July 7th 2020, I got a terse message from him that reads” Thank God I’m feeling better…the last time we spoke (28th of June), I was actually in an ambulance heading to the isolation center after testing positive to Covid 19″.
I was shocked and dazed immediately I read the message. Many questions ran through my mind. By the time I summoned the courage to call him I was rushing my inquiries asking, how? Why? When? While recuperating on his sick bed, my friend was calm and with his usual gentle mien, told me the story:
It all started when my brother was coughing for days at home; the cough became so severe that he had to reluctantly go for Covid-19 test at a private hospital where he paid a lot of money on the 18th of June. Before he got his result on the 20th of June, I was having some slight symptoms of fever like headache. The next day, oblivious of the discomfort I was having, I went through many normal daily routines.
I had my breakfast and asked my brother about the result of the test, he said the result was positive. There and then I knew I had caught it because it was only two of us in the house. Maybe because of the reality of the infection that dawned on me, cold shivers ran through my spine, immediately I rushed to the toilet, started stooling. Headache and fever followed suit immediately.
Sadly, the private hospital that conducted the test on my brother did not follow up on him. They did not notify the appropriate authorities the next line of action; he was left abandoned to his fate, despite the huge amount he spent.
I called a medical friend of mine and explained I have caught the Coronavirus bug. He advised me to purchase hydrochloroquine, Zithromax, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Paracetamol tablets for myself. He suggested that my brother should also get these sets of drugs but Zinc should be added since he had already tested positive. Before administering these drugs, I got in touch with my sister, a registered nurse to guide us through the dosage routines. Not thoroughly convinced these orthodox drugs will be sufficient enough to fight it, I also applied other unorthodox (concussions) herbal medications I have come across in the social media to ward off Coronavirus.
Who wan die?
I was afraid so I and my brother took precautions, we went to self-isolation. The next step was to visit Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) website to request for a COVID-19 test, an invitation letter was sent to my email to come for the test on the 23rd of June. I was desirous and anxious to quickly know my status, so I was not comfortable with the date given to me but I had no choice than to wait.
On the D day, a Tuesday, I went for the test; it was free of charge and was asked to go home and wait for my result. I was restless and anxious that I had to place a call to NIMR on Thursday 25th for my result. They promised that I will get the result before the close of work. I was expectant; I was checking my mails periodically but no reply. The next day which was Friday 26th, I got no response from NIMR.
It was on Saturday 27th that the call came through, the caller was very professional. He asked for my name and I confirmed it. He wanted to know if I’m alone and I confirmed I was alone. He asked why I went for the test and I told him I was exposed to someone that was coughing for days and the person had tested positive to Coronavirus.
Then he dropped the bombshell, he said ‘my test result is positive’.
I pulled myself together and I asked “what next?”
He asked for the symptoms I had and I narrated the same story I told my doctor friend, so also the drugs I have been administering before the test result. He confirmed that a team (evacuation team) will call me within two to four days.
I enquired why they needed to wait for another excruciating two to four days before calling again but he replied they had to make arrangements for a bed space. I asked why I can’t continue to self-isolate, he said I could pose a danger to others.
The next day Sunday 28th, things started happening rapidly.
I got a call from a lady asking me if I’m ready, curiously I answered: ready for what? She replied if I’m ready for evacuation to the isolation center.
Whao , so fast? Well why not?
Boy, many things ran through my mind. Immediately I went straight to the kitchen, boiled water to steam, I put all I can think of in the water, lemon, onions, ginger etc. I steamed myself for 15 mins, I just had this determination to fight and win this battle against COVID 19. While steaming myself inside the bathtub, I started muffling silent prayers to my creator that I will survive Coronavirus. I called my doctor friend that the evacuation team was coming; he encouraged and assured me that we should hope for the best.
Then I called my wife about the latest development and she started praying for me. I must confess my faith was shaken initially but immediately she joined her faith with mine and started praying, I was re energized and she prophesied that I will walk into the isolation center with my legs and will come back with my legs by the Grace of God, I said Amen. I called the evacuation team I was good to go that they should come and pick me at home but on second thought, I thought of the stigma and the unwarranted scene that would be created with the ambulance blaring its siren in my vicinity.
I suggested a popular nearest petrol situation very close to my area and I would drive there for the pickup. They agreed and to my surprise they were already there before I got there.
The drive to the isolation center was depressing and I was thinking of what to expect at the center. My God, it was a tortious journey.
When I got there, I was welcomed by two doctors and taken to my ward/bed. They stopped my old medications and placed me on Alluvia, an antiretroviral drug (2 tablets 3times daily), Vitamin C , zinc and Augmentin namely morning and night only. The next thing, X-ray was conducted.
The virus had already taken a toll on my body and was degenerating so fast that I lost my sense of smell, my taste bud was gone, and I was coughing intermittently. When I coughed at times, it comes with yellowish brown phlegm and I was feeling a metal taste in my throat. In the morning at the initial stage, my temperature rose as high as 38.9 centigrade, the medical team had to apply analgesic paracetamol injection to lower my temperature.
Among our daily routine, we exercised frequently, walking / breathing and I was fortunate to be among the few ones that did not have respiratory issues or underlying conditions. I spent fourteen days at the center and to the glory of God I was discharged to go home on Sunday 12th of July, 2020. I give God the glory and honor for keeping me alive to share my story.
The service rendered by the medical team (doctors, nurses and the entire health worker) was of world class standard, excellent and impeccable. Special thanks to my wife, my lovely children, my parents, brothers, sisters, friends and well-wishers.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank Lagos State Government and YPO for the great work they have done to pull this five star treatment with 3 square meal accompanied with desserts, portable water dispenser, bottled water, toiletries, night wears , and to cap it all 24 hours electricity.
KUDOS TO LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT!!!
Fellas, Coronavirus is real, don’t be complacent. While the medical researchers are looking for a cure, please stay safe. Your country needs you.
Muyiwa Olayinka wrote on behalf of his friend