It all started in early March 2020, I was feeling sick. I had just arrived back in Nigeria from the UK. I self-isolated, wasn’t sure if it was COVID-19, but I wanted to protect other people. I called the Nigeria Center for Disease Control. It took 24 hours before I was tested and my test result confirmed I had contracted COVID-19. I was the third case in Nigeria. It was really scary. They came with an ambulance and took me to the female isolation unit. It was quiet; I was literally the first person there. I was like, ‘Oh my God. They haven’t had any other female cases, what is the guarantee they will be able to handle my case?’ It was just a ward with a lot of empty beds. Being alone in that space could drive you crazy.
I was coughing, nauseous, vomiting, and had diarrhea. I lost my sense of taste and couldn’t drink water. Being sick away from my family was really tough. I had my cellphone, but also I didn’t want to get in touch with people, to make them worried. I felt alone. I was there for over two weeks, so other patients joined me later. It was nice to have company, to see other people, and have someone to talk to, but that was also scary. I started thinking about how this is spreading -how many more people are contracting the virus. There were times I was anxious I wasn’t getting better. Even when I was released, the media was calling my phone, nonstop texting me and I started panicking. That’s why my phone is on silent. I panic when it rings.
I was sick for a week and then felt better for another week. They tested me over and over until I tested negative.
When I left, I just signed a document. The government took care of everything: the test, my care in the isolation center. It was all free. I didn’t have to do any paperwork. But some states in Nigeria are doing great in response, while others are struggling to set up test centers. It just goes to show the capacity of every state to respond to a crisis. We have gaps, and it showed.
What I saw, makes you realize life is so fickle. You could be here today and gone tomorrow. I want to make the best use of my time. I’m going to spend my money. [Laughing to myself] I guess I’ll be fine.