Busy Friday hit with a bang (as usual).
I was supposed to have a teaching class, followed by a lab session and another teaching class.
But somehow things just changed and the lab session had to be converted into a teaching class.
Suddenly, I was forced to come up with a PowerPoint class within 15 minutes.
I had to do something akin to a miracle to capture the concetration of students for two hours.
Well the internet connection came in handy despite my body not feeling 100%.
Standing before intelligent people for two hours requires content and I tried my best to deliver it.
But still, my body felt lazy and I could feel some faint body aches.
I immedately knew as soon as the class was over that this was going to be my last engagement that day.
The afternoon class had to be postponed.
So I made my way to the college canteen for lunch.
Though the queue was exceedingly long, I still felt fine standing for 20 or so minutes.
‘This just feels like a normal fatigue…’, I quipped to myself.
So I sat down and enjoyed the savoury moment before starting to feel some nausea creeping in.
Infact as soon as I finished my meal, I sat down for a while in order for my body to ‘recollect’ itself before standing up.
The 100 metre trek from the canteen to the gate seemed an everlasting moment.
Something just wasn’t feeling right but I couldn’t place my finger on it.
The bus stage right out of the college had a shortage of public transport vehicles so I stopped a courteous motorbike rider who gave me a ride to a nearby bus stage where I could gamble my options.
Hitching that ride seemed reasonable except that I felt as if I couldn’t stand for so long and that made me worry.
The ride to the city was far from comfortable but I had to endure it now that I worked two counties away and needed to get to the Nairobi city centre and connect to my humble abode.
I got home feeling a bit better (that feeling of being around people who love you).
So I brushed aside the feeling, took some painkillers and rested for the day.
I had an online class the next day (the kind that lasts for over three hours).
The good part was I was the student….
But the bad part was I was having a serious headache.
I thought painkiller magic could do something to ease not only the headache but the severe body aches I was having but I was dreaming.
This was Saturday and by Sunday morning, I was feeling as if a group of red ants were moving under my skin.
The body aches had all of a sudden become an issue of concern.
So serious were they that I felt pain when I placed my hand on any part of my body…
(…and yes the word ‘any’ is not an exegerration).
So I went to a nearby clinic to get a doctor’s view of the whole situation.
Tests were done and nothing was found.
However the doctor sort of hinted to me to take a COVID-19 test if the medication didn’t work after three days.
Three days came and passed.
Despite taking my medication religiously, the symptoms seemed to become worse by the day.
Not only was I having severe body aches, headaches and nausea, my appetite was gone.
But something creepy also took place during this time.
Suddenly I could not smell anything…yes ANYTHING!
And I realized how important smell is especially when it came to increasing appetite.
Not only that…my taste buds were sort of corrupted and the syrup I was taking as medication was tasting slightly sweeter than milk!
During this time, the cough I had been having was gradually becoming drier, thrustier and was corroding my throat.
Unlike a wet cough (which brings out sputum) this ‘new’ cough was being triggered by tightness in my lungs as I gasped for air during normal breathing.
But I kept on buying time for two extra days (after the initial 3 expired) to see whether things would improve.
But nothing prepared me for Friday morning (one week after the initial symptoms).
I woke up and sat in bed as usual.
But something strange was happening to my body.
Remember, I had become used to the fatigue, body aches, mild fever, nausea and sharp headaches by now.
I was no stranger to these symtoms since I had been a highland Malaria patient before.
But above and beyond them, I was suddenly having difficulty taking in air…
Every inhaled breathe felt like half full.
My lungs seemed to ‘shut off’ any extra air forcing me to let out a thrusty dry cough to prompt them to get in more air.
So I sat down moving minimally so that my body wouldn’t demand for more air.
At this point, I alerted my wife that things were out of hand and I must go to hospital.
At the hospital, a nasal swab was taken and subjected to antibody-antigen testing (which takes about an hour to give results).
It is in the hospital when I realized how shortness of breath had taken a toll on me.
I struggled to keep my mask on as I ascended some hospital steps…
I struggled to even talk knowing that I was having a hard time replacing the exhaled air…
I struggled to sit because of the intense body aches and nausea.
So the hospital staff let me rest on a vacant bed as I awaited my results.
I cannot forget the look on the face of the lab technician who delivered the envelope with my results.
‘Does he have COVID?’, my wife asked him as he popped into the room I was resting.
His eyes suddenly turned towards me and sorrowfully said, ‘YES’ while nodding his head.
For a moment I felt relieved to know what I was suffering from.
But yet again I felt numb.
I didn’t know if my body would successfully ward off this infection now that nearly all the symptoms were evident.
Interestingly, my wife and son seemed assymptomatic unlike me.
So we headed to the doctor who recommended a chest X-Ray to check on the state of my lungs.
These organs had been through a mess of a time over the past 2 weeks.
And the X-Ray did show that they had been inflammed.
So the doctor prescribed some antibiotics to manage opportunistic bacterial infections and some vitamins.
He stated that though infected, my lungs had still not reached that critical point.
However he warned me to return back to hospital ASAP if symptoms persisted.
I remember listening to the President’s address on additional measures to tackle COVID-19 on radio during my ride back home.
I remember quipping to myself how real this situation had become.
It had now hit home.
Thankfully to God, my situation improved over time.
Taking a ginger, lemon concoction and regular steaming using hot water laced with eucalyptus oil helped.
All symptoms apart from an occassional cough are gone.
I am about to take my second test to confirm whether I am negative
I thought about the many who have lost their lives through this scourge.
I am no better than them.
Probably I have only received another chance to live out my purpose on this earth and for that I am thankful to God.
Three lessons I have learnt from my experience with COVID-19:
1. Be thankful in life
2. Be purposeful in life
3. Go out of your way to take care of your health.