May 30th 2021 will forever be a day I will never forget in my life. Just the precious weekend, I had celebrated my 43rd birthday and had a few days later packed my bags for a training in the northern city of Lira.
I arrived in Lira on Monday the 24th of May 2021 for a four day communications training with our field staff. We visited a number of communities with the trainees giving them hands on practical tips on how to document impact stories from the various project interventions.
I was keen on taking best shots of pictures during this time often hopping from one vehicle to another of the three that were available for the field trip. All this time, I kept my mask on and occasionally asked for a sanitiser that the driver kept at the front seat.
We stayed in Lira until the Friday 28th of May and while another team headed back to Kampala, I proceeded to Agago district to do a similar training with colleagues there. I started feeling some body pain but brushed off for fatigue.
On Saturday 29th May, I started having a feverish feeling but swallowed some paracetamol. That night the fever intensified coupled with headaches and serious body pains.
I decided to visit Dr. Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital, Kalongo Town Council, in Agago district. It’s probably the only recognized Catholic founded facility that offers better services in the remote area.
On my arrival, since it was a Sunday, there were afew health personnel to attend to patients. ” Please be patient as we are attending to an emergency situations,” said a nurse who later attended to me after about a 2 hour’s wait.
After the medatory initial checks, I was directed to a room where a Clinical officer was attending to patients as there were no doctors that day according to the nurse.
“I feel I have a fever,” I informed him. ” We shall take a malaria and Covid-19 test,” the clinical officer announced.
He directed me to a neat lab where I found some young technician who went straight to the tests as directed. He then directed me back to wait for my results.
I sat in a waiting space where other patients were taking turns to see the health worker. I sat patiently waiting for my results as I sometimes turned to a screen airing some movies translated in luo probably keeping patients entertained as they waited to be served.
After about 30 minutes, I saw the lab technician enter the Clinical Officer’s room holding some documents. In less than a minute I was called into the room. My heart told me this was bad news. “The tests show you have no malaria but you are Covid-19 positive,” the Clinical officer said as he broke the news to me.
I requested to call my closet colleague such that he could be aware. In a few minutes, an Italian doctor appeared and was briefed of my situation. All this time, I was holding other patients who required services at the facility.
My colleague informed them that I could be isolated in a guest house but the Italian doctor rejected the idea saying it was to much of a risk to the community (rightly so I thought too).
After some time, I was informed of a room a the facility that they had organized for me. Now my challenge was the network was too poor and I was not sure of the supplies for my recovery.
Once in the room, I was left alone after being given some amoxicillin and vitamin c tablets. After some consultations, I was advised by some health worker to instead swallow Azithromycin tablets. I called my colleague from the outside to deliver this to me instead.
I however, forget to tell him to bring me a pain killer since I was also feeling headache and needed to bring down the fever. A nurse had passed by the window and I had pleaded with her but she didn’t return. The health workers seemed to have taken off all of a sudden ( understandable, the disease creates alot of fear).
On Monday after some discussions, I suggested to be evacuated to Mbale where my family would give me the necessary support and supplies. The negotiations we done same day and an ambulance was organized for Tuesday 1st June 2021.
Since I had stayed in the room for two days without being checked on, some of the new health workers probably those who had come Monday were not sure of my condition. All this time, I was not coughing nor sneezing save for the body weakness, headache and fever.
One of them brought me surgical mask and a face shield to put on. I wore them and carried one of my heavy bags to the ambulance packed near the entrance of the hospital.
We left Agago at around 10:00am at breakneck speed and by 2:00pm we were at the gates of Mbale regional referral hospital.
At Mbale, the health workers treated me so well examining and asking me various questions. When one of the saw me lifted my things although week, he told me to look for a place where I could self isolate.
Indeed the hospital was full to capacity with many patients. I then requested a friend who took me in with such a condition and risk until I fully recovered recently since his place was more convenient and isolated too. I will forever be indepted to him. ( I realized this is the time people will want to keep away from you as much as possible- stigma is real and from sources you list expect).
I must say I didn’t have a definite formula to treat COVID-19 but since I had fever, I requested for local leaves to steam and drunk a lot of concoctions and water.
One of them was blended lemon peelings mixed with garlic and ginger. This really helped me at the initial stages as my smell and taste had completely disappeared.
Most importantly, I stayed positive. Covid-19 thrives on panic. There are many stories of desperation, but I bring a story of hope. I thank God for the healing.
I started by walking a lot until I felt energy returning in my body. Exercise is very important and that’s what I countinue to do.