Thank God I am back at my duty post! I returned to work on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 after several weeks of battling the monstrous Coronavirus.
It began with a feverish condition on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. I usually don’t joke with my health. So, I got some anti-malaria drugs with some paracetamol at the pharmacy and used as recommended.
I am usually back on my feet before completing a full dose of any malaria treatment or drugs. Curiously, this time around, in-spite of completing the full douse, there was no improvement.
My health began to deteriorate, with bouts of headaches, severe body pains and cold. That was on Thursday, July 3, same day that I had to organize a media briefing for my boss, Mr. Governor. I didn’t raise the alarm just yet, because everybody was wary of everyone else, especially if you show signs of illness. But truth be told, I was terribly sick.
MY WIFE MUST HEAR THIS
On the evening of July 3rd, I told my wife that we had to go for COVID-19 test, just to clear all doubts. Thankfully, she readily consented. So, the following morning we were at the Yaba Infectious Diseases Hospital where we were promptly attended to. Although he was not ill and showed no symptoms of COVID-19, I encouraged my driver to also get tested.
Mission accomplished, we left for State House, Marina to continue with the day’s official activities. While Mr. Governor was briefing and responding to questions from journalists, I stood there on the beautifully tendered State House lawn, shaking from within.
As much as I could, I tried to keep more than two metres away from some colleagues who came to me, seeking clarifications on one issue or the other. Since I was not sure of my status, I needed to take responsibility.
After the press conference, maintaining a perfect social distance position, I moved towards my boss to intimate him of my situation. Looking at me with unmistaken concern, he asked: “Have you gone for another test?”. He had earlier mandated his close aides to go for COVID-19 test on two or three occasions. He has also done the test severally. “Yes sir, I just did this morning and results should be out by Sunday”, I replied him. He then told me to go home for a couple of days. I thanked him and I left the State House.
No sooner had I left the State House than the real symptoms started in fearful proportion. To be honest, I was scared. I had never felt that way before in my entire life. Driving from Marina to Ikeja was like travelling from Lagos to New York. The vibrations and other bodily pains I experienced that day can’t really be described. I rolled from one end of the vehicle to another. All I remember was my driver’s soothing “epele” (sorry) greetings.
By the time we got home, my eyes had turned red, with the retinal looking the other way. My wife insisted we went to the hospital. We did. At the hospital, I told the doctor that I had gone for COVID-19 test, but he said he would place me on another round of malaria treatment. I took some shots that evening and repeated same on Saturday. By Sunday evening, our COVID-19 test results were arrived via email. My worst fear stared at me in the face; we all tested positive for Coronavirus – my wife, driver and I!
I immediately called my driver to inform him. Clearly he was asymptomatic because from that time and up till this moment, he had no symptoms whatsoever. Nonetheless, I insisted he self-isolate at home for 14 days.
I duly informed Mr. Governor, and thereafter called my direct boss, Mr. Tayo Ayinde, the Chief of Staff to the governor, who immediately made arrangements for my treatment. The doctors called in and asked us to isolate at home, tutoring me on all the protocols (most of which I was already familiar with, being part of the communication team on Lagos State Government’s response to COVID-19).
Case management started and in two days, I lost my sense of smell, taste and every symptom that comes with COVID-19 became fully manifested in me. It was such a sordid experience.
In eight to nine days of medication, the initial pains and discomfort started to disappear. I began to experience a new lease of life. My SPO2, which is a small device used in checking the flow of oxygen in a patient’s system was back to normal. BP was good and body temperature returned to normal. This time, I could attend to work related issues. I started working from home.
By Monday, July 5, my wife also began to exhibit some symptoms. So, she was placed on same medication. Ironically, while I improved, her condition took a downward turn; her oxygen level was below the acceptable limit of 95! At first, it fluctuated between 90 and 94; sometimes it would hit 95. Her Blood Pressure was also irregular.
On Tuesday, July 14, her SPO2 went down to 88! That was when it dawned on everyone that she had to be taken to an isolation centre. She was taken to the Onikan isolation centre, where she received fantastic COVID-19 treatment. Usually, I don’t get scared easily, but this time, I was very scared. I thought the worst phase of my life had come when after three days of her admission, she did not respond well to treatment. She neither called home nor picked her phone. Everyone was worried.
Thanks to the Lagos State Government, the Ministry of Health, the health workers; doctors, nurses and drivers, among others who ensured that my wife, like all the other patients that were brought in under very terrible conditions, returned home with joy.
I decided to touch on my wife’s experience to draw attention to the fact that people do not necessarily die of COVID-19. You lose people to complications from underlining ailments. Unknown to us, my wife had a silent case of pneumonia and had some blood clot related issues. And since she had not fallen sick, these conditions never manifested in any form. Everyone in the house appeared healthy and truly so until the COVID-19 incident.
It is very important to conduct comprehensive medical checks, even if it is once in a year. If we had known this earlier, perhaps our experience would have been less traumatic when COVID-19 came calling.
VICTORY AT LAST
After spending five days, we started to connect again via video calls.
Since I was not in the isolation centre, the closest was when I took her birthday cake there for a symbolic celebration; I could only rely on her experience, which she described as wholesome.
Without sounding immodest, Lagos State Government is a model State on the COVID-19 response in Africa. Special thanks to Mr. Governor who built strong capacity in readiness for the pandemic. This has helped the State to manage the pandemic since it broke out.
COVID-19 is not a hoax. It is very real. Use your face mask, wash your hands regularly, use sanitizer and please keep to the social distance protocols.
Now I am back on the beat, what have I missed?
Akosile is the Chief Press Secretary to the Lagos State Governor.