Saturday, 2 May 2020

CORONAVIRUS NEARLY KILLED ME : ZIM NURSE IN THE UK


The world is still in the woods in terms of understanding Covid-19 hence there is need to continue to treat the pandemic with great caution, a UK-based Zimbabwean nurse living with the virus for eight weeks now has warned.

The nurse who requested anonymity is a neurological care unit manager in East Midlands.

The nurse who is still in isolation at home told his testimony on a Fletcher Old Students Association (FOSA) Whatsapp group and the story left many including medical experts with the view that the World understanding of the virus is still too limited to throw caution to the wind.

“This is scary,” said one medical doctor on the group.
The nurse who almost died from the infection said an emerging problem with Covid-19 is that one can live with the virus for a long time without knowing it but at the same time infecting others. He also said that the virus takes long to get out of one’s system; several weeks. He raised the issue of re-infection as the third problem.
He said that these three have become some of the stickiest issues in the ‘war’ against Covid-19.

He warned Zimbabweans to take the lockdown seriously and said the Corona figures in the UK started off slowly just as is happening in Zimbabwe but they suddenly exploded and mushroomed in the third week. He said he survived the infection because of the grace of God and the fact that he is a nurse and he had all the medical equipment he needed at home.

He said Zimbabwe’s lockdown would be more difficult than in the UK because of hunger. He said in the UK everyone who is not going to work because of Covid-19 gets 80% of his salary while those who are infected by Covid-19 get 100% of their salaries.

He said that he had what he suspects to be his first Covid-19 infection around March 1, 2020 and it was mild. He then had a new and very vicious infection on March 27 and this one nearly killed him. He has since recovered from the second attack but tests still indicate that he is positive.

“The main problem is that the virus takes too long to get out of the system. About five weeks after the second diagnosis am still positive but no longer have symptoms and it is so easy to pass on the virus. Besides feeling some heat in my back am now ok.

“The first infection was mild but I could feel there was something wrong; a light cough, thick mucus and discomfort in the chest and I went along for weeks without any problem. Then I got what I think was a second infection which overwhelmed me very quickly, temperature shot to 40 degrees, I had mucus as thick as a stone, I could barely breathe or walk,” said the nurse.

It was during the second infection that he infected his wife who is also a nurse and a CEO of a company in the UK. The wife’s temperature shot to 42 degrees and “everyone in the neighbourhood thought she was going to die when an ambulance ferried her to hospital”, said the nurse.

After a stay in the hospital, the wife recovered and is now Covid-19 negative. However, the husband remains positive.

“On the first day of the second infection, I sensed that I was not feeling well while I was at work. We had our temperatures monitored every four hours but high temperature hit me just before going home. I started feeling very cold although my body temperature was 40 degrees Celsius.

“I work in a neurological unit and I started coughing. I knew I was in trouble.
“Thick mucus stuck to my throat, nose and lungs. The distance I could walk became shorter by the day. Walking to the toilet which is 10 metres away became a problem. Oxygen levels in my blood started dropping.

“From day 7 my breathing became so bad. Whenever I stood up I got dizzy and started coughing. The more I coughed, the more I couldn’t breathe. The cough is dry but painless and effortless unlike the flue cough. Sleeping on your back is not advisable so I spent time sleeping on my tummy.

“I saw my life draining away before me. I had no sense of taste, smell and my mouth had a bad taste and even water tasted badly.

“On day 8 I sat my family down and told them that I was about to die and I sat on the edge of my bed tears rolling down not for myself but for my young children. I and my wife were dying yet our children were young. I sent a Whatsapp message to my family back home and told them that I was ready to die,” he said.

He said there are a number of factors that kill people infected with the Covid-19 virus. He said two common causes are a persistently high temperature that doesn’t go down and pneumonia which is a side effect.

In the case of high temperatures the nurse and his wife took some paracetamol tablets and these have an effect of lowering body temperatures. They would sleep with their bedroom windows open even though it is very cold in the UK and they would also get a cold shower.
He said pneumonia results in liquids and thick mucus in the throat, the nose and the lungs. These make breathing very difficult.

“To deal with the effects of pneumonia we took antibiotics, we also took menthol, put it in a dish with very hot water, covered ourselves inside a blanket and stayed in the steam for some time. The mucus which was as thick as a stone would then start softening and dropping into the dish. This opens up the air pipes and allowing breathing to take place again.

“We did all this at home and it helped us a lot as we also wanted to avoid going into hospital. My wife went into hospital only when it became extremely necessary. We managed to get through all this because we had all the equipment we needed at home; to measure temperature, blood pressure, oxygen level etc,” he said.

He said he is living in isolation at home until he tests negative. He said he stays alone in his bedroom and he doesn’t leave the room. He is served his meals there and he does not mingle with his wife or children.

“I have everything that I want here in the bedroom. I don’t go out of the bedroom no matter what. I have my stove here to prepare my tea. I don’t mingle with my wife or my children lest I infect them,” he said.
Masvingo Mirror

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