“I wasn’t afraid of dying; I just didn’t want to die alone. I thought if I died here, my family won’t get to bury me, won’t be able to bid me goodbye.” These words summed up the genesis of the fear that sought to cripple a Vincentian professional who recently migrated to the United Kingdom to ply her trade of choice, only to be confronted by the COVID-19 disease as the virus continues to devastate lives worldwide.
Patient Y spoke exclusively to Asbert News Network providing that we withhold certain identifiable facts about her. In her own words, “on the 19th of April, I went to work feeling fine, while at work I started coughing intermittently, but nothing to worry about. At about 3pm, I suddenly began to feel cold, I began to shiver, at which time I mentioned to my coworkers what I was experiencing and asked if anyone else was feeling cold.
“I had my temperature checked; it was still within normal range. One coworker offered me some tea but that didn’t help. I started to experience body aches – just like when you’re going to have the flu. I was eventually advised to go home, but before I left I booked myself an appointment to be tested for COVID-19 the following morning, so I can rule that out.
“By the time I got home, I had an increased temperature. I took off my clothes, put them in the machine, and then took a shower, washing from my hair down in warm water.
“I remember calling home and I spoke to my family. I told them what I was experiencing. My mom told me to do steam inhalation. My sister advised me to drink some ginger tea, which I did.”
This familial support would prove to be a vital part of her recovery program. But for Patient Y, like so many others, things would quickly get much worse before any improvement in her condition could be discerned.
“By the time I got up Monday morning, I felt like I had a sore throat, it was hurting and the coughing had increased more from the day before. I had my test done. Walking up the stairs I felt tired, like I was out of breath. I was like ‘Lord, God let this test be negative.’ I knew the odds were against me.
“I did my steam inhalation as advised, with boiled orange peel, ginger and mint. I would use some of this same water to make tea. I was told to add garlic but that made me vomit, so I eliminated it from my natural remedies and I took paracetamol for the fever.
“But by Tuesday I lost my sense of smell and taste. In the back of my mind, with all these signs and symptoms, I knew I had to be COVID positive but I was in denial. I still was hoping the tests would be negative. Every day my family would check in, but I hid certain information from my mom because she had begun to stress.
“I remember at nights I would feel so hot, I couldn’t stay asleep for too long, either in the day or nights – maybe 2 hours at a time. Once I got up feeling so claustrophobic, like the walls were closing in around me, I couldn’t breathe. I remember praying and I said, ‘God whatever happens this night it’s all in your hands.’ After that I was able to sleep. The prayers were going up. I never forget that God is still in control of everything.
“Wednesday 22nd when my phone rang and I saw the number, my heart sank; I didn’t want to hear the results. By this time, simple things I did made me short of breath.”
Although none of her colleagues, who have tested COVID-19 positive and made the remarkable rebound and herself included, are being stigmatized for having contracted the virus, Patient Y could not help but feel utterly overwhelmed upon learning of her COVID-19 results.
“Being told that I was positive, confirming my worst fears, was like my whole world came crushing down on me. The tears just began to flow, I couldn’t console myself. I immediately thought of my kids, ‘Lord my children are going to lose their mother; I can’t even get one last hug, nothing.’
“I thought, ‘Father please don’t let me die here alone.’ Through tears, I remember texting my husband, my sisters, my brother, my very close friend by just simply saying, ‘I am positive, please don’t tell my children and my mom. Please tell them am ok.’”
Three weeks later, the memory of her mental burdens when she heard the news still reduced her to tears. So much so we had to take a break in the interview. But her iron-clad determination won out again and she recounted how her strict regimen of vitamins, tea only diet while forgoing everything in the fridge and consistent steam inhalation exercise all combined to quicken her convalescence.
“With each passing day I started feeling better, I regained my sense of smell and taste, the sore throat had improved, my temperature was under control and my breathing began to improve. Until on the Saturday I woke up, my eyes were beginning to look healthy and I began to feel like myself again.”
Upon testing COVID positive Patient Y was also requested to self-isolate. “I was asked to quarantine myself, stay inside and away from others. I had to have everything I needed delivered to my home. I would get lots of phone calls, but had to cut them short because of shortness of breath.”
She also recalled, “I stayed another week in isolation (total of 2 weeks), this was depressing, with no physical human contact. But my support system was very strong. And I am grateful to this day they never left me alone.
“Video calls were my source of comfort, seeing those familiar faces. My strength comes from God to fight this thing, and my will power because of my children. Giving up was not an option. Had it not been for my support system and God, I’m not sure how I would have coped, isolation is not easy.”
The mother of 3 children ages 5 – 20 is already back at work. Patient Y was acutely aware of what was happening with her faculties due to her profession although no medical advice as per the severity of the affliction was forthcoming.
She confessed that no medical attention was given to her between the tests that diagnosed the presence of the virus within her and subsequently cleared her as having recovered. Interestingly no contract tracing was conducted and Patient Y attributes this to the fact that all concerned expressed their belief that her profession caused her to be exposed.
According to a global update provided by wikipedia.com, some 4.1M confirmed COVID-19 cases have been recorded; of those 1.4M patients have recovered while 282 thousand persons have died from COVID-19 related complications as of May 11, 2020.