The Covid-19 pandemic took the whole world by surprise. Frontline staff across various industries have been valiant at their jobs, fighting the virus, protecting the people, providing essential services and keeping the economy moving.
Among them, the NHS workers are the most vulnerable to the virus due to their direct exposure to infected patients. Many have been adversely affected by the physical and emotional stress of being in this unprecedented situation - clearly doing their best medically, yet having little control over the lives of their patients. Worse still, when they become patients.
Here is the first hand experience of one of the front line workers, a medical doctor who contracted the virus and survived.
Can we please meet you?
My name is Chike. I am a doctor working with the care of the elderly patients who are known to display non-typical Covid-19 symptoms, making it difficult at the early stages to diagnose. We treated them in the ward as if they were not COVID patients, with very minimal or no PPE due to the policies in place at that time, and so we were very much exposed. I ended up being among 14 staff that were infected in my ward.
What symptoms did you have?
I had mild symptoms of headaches, generalised body aches, fever, and fatigue for a week and eventually, rigors in the evening of my last day of work. I progressively got ill as the days progressed. I was self-isolating in a rented apartment close to the hospital where I worked. On Day 3 of isolation, I discovered that I had lost my sense of smell and appetite was 80% lost. I was barely managing being alone in the flat.
What range of emotions did you have during that period?
I was a bit anxious and lonely while self-isolating from my wife and kids; that was too hard for me. I didn’t have the luxury of meal choices as my wife was not around. Friends were doing their bit to help amidst their tight schedules. Also, fear of the unknown worried me a lot. I didn’t fear death but was more worried about my family without me, both nuclear and extended, as I am the main provider / breadwinner in my family. More worrying was the thought of my son and daughter growing up without me, what they would pass through in life or my darling wife being a widow and single mother. That would be tough and unimaginable. God forbid! Again my poor parents, would they be able to cope emotionally without me?
What treatment did you receive, if any?
While on self-isolation, I started myself on antibiotics as part of my symptoms were obvious signs of infection. I said if there was bacterial co-infection, I needed to take care of that. I visited the hospital on Day 5 for a review. Blood samples were taken for kidney function test, signs of infection and other things. I had a chest X-ray. My oxygen level and temperature were checked as well. Apart from a raised inflammatory marker (CRP of 40), everything was within acceptable range including oxygen level. So, I was sent home without a Covid-19 test as the policy then again didn’t allow that.
However, on Day 9, I felt worse. I called for an ambulance and they decided to take me into the hospital after check up as my breathing was bad, I was lethargic, and my oxygen levels were low. I informed my Vicar who immediately set up an emergency prayer team across the globe. I came into the hospital on Monday night very unwell requiring oxygen and on Tuesday morning, a swab was taken. The result came out positive and I was moved into a COVID ward that night.
The staff were worried for me and I was considered for intensive care, but dramatically I started improving on my second day in hospital. By Day 3, I was off oxygen despite being considered for intensive care earlier. This was a bit of a puzzle to the medical staff and I will always tell them that God did it and I am healed.
What happened to your faith then as a believer?
The most important thing that happened to me was the fact that I held unto God’s Word as my anchor, whenever I was down with thoughts I declared the word of God in Proverbs 18:21 which says that the power of life and death lies in the tongue and I chose life.
During my self-isolation, my Vicar called three times a day to pray with me and encourage me.
He had a vision that we were injured but no life was lost.
My faith and that of my church especially the prayer team grew stronger due to my testimony. After recovery, I went straight home, continued praying and believing God for full recovery as I lost 6.5kg and was easily short of breath.
Have you experienced any stigmatisation?
I have not been going out as everyone is still on lockdown. I can’t say I have been stigmatised but I am worried that if people know you had COVID-19 they will stigmatise you out of fear more than anything.
Thank you very much Dr. Chike for sharing your experience with us.
Have you been affected by the coronavirus and would like to share your experience, please leave your comments below or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay Safe. Stay alert.
Radiant ~ May 2020