In July 2020, I got COVID-19.
As the disease spread in Nigeria, I kept wondering how I would survive this pandemic and keep my family safe. I am a health worker, a public health physician and was going to the health facility though I was not working in the infectious disease unit. My fear was two-sided as my husband is also a physician, virologist and at that time he was managing a diagnostic center.
My husband had to carry out an official assignment at one of his organization’s diagnostic centres in Ibadan, South West Nigeria, for a couple of days. At this point, I was very worried. I told him to take all necessary precautions and he said he would. He came back over the weekend. By Monday evening, I had to pick him up from work and I went with the kids. He had this dry cough and I asked him when the coughing had started. I immediately wound down the windows of the car as the air-conditioner was on. My eldest daughter looked at me and was wondering why her dad was coughing. Could this be COVID-19? That’s what she later asked me when we got home.
Later that night he had low-grade fever. On Tuesday morning, he was tired and had to drag himself to work. We were not sure what was going on but he still went to work. When he came home, he still complained of the being tired and he had fever, dry cough and a sore throat. At that point, I moved out of the room as I had a high index of suspicion that this was COVID-19. I was just thinking of the children, and I wanted to stay healthy for everyone. I had no help at this time as the nanny’s services had been suspended due to the ongoing pandemic.
On Wednesday, he could not get out of bed and his temperature was rising by two degrees Celsius with every check! My husband called a colleague who prescribed antibiotics, Chloroquine, Zinc, and vitamin C and D. Our two daughters developed symptoms as well. One had mild fever, throat pain associated with a burning sensation, headache and diarrheoa. The second had fever, tiredness and by Thursday had started vomiting. Only the last child who was four years old at the time and myself were without symptoms. I knew then that this could not be Malaria.
On Friday, I had this intense throbbing headache and epigastric pain. The pain was so intense and I could only lie down. At this point, I could not isolate anyone in rooms in the house; our entire household we went into isolation and I was very sure this was COVID-19. On Sunday we went for a COVID-19 PCR test. The results came back six days later to be positive for every member of my household. We had, however, commenced our path to recovery.
We had isolated as a household, we were taking multivitamins, exposing ourselves to sunlight and trying to keep fit. The children, particularly the girls, needed psychosocial support. I had to motivate them, discuss with them as they were attending school online and away from their friends. The isolation from friends had an effect I had not envisaged. We all survived only by God’s mercies! -S.O, Lagos, Nigeria.