When businesses opened, employees were glad to resume work. One of these people who was in haste to go back to work, socialise and make some pocket money while businesses were still open was Linda Muriuki. When the boss called informing her that the business was open, she was elated. Little did she know that the call was trouble in the wait. A few weeks down the line, she was admitted at a local hospital treating corona symptoms.
We caught up with Linda who narrated her experience to StoryMolly.
StoryMolly: Where do you suspect you got the virus?
Linda Muriuki: I would say I got it at my place of work
StoryMolly: When did you first experience COVID-19 symptoms?
Linda: One morning around the end of August 2020, I was coming home from work. It was a sunny summer morning. So, the weather was supposed to be warm and nice. However, while waiting for the bus, I noticed I was feeling cold and I even started shivering. I didn’t think much of it then until later when I fell ill. At home, nothing could make me warm enough. Interestingly, I also started running a fever and headache. I took some painkillers and managed to sleep for a couple of hours.
SM: What were the first symptoms?
Linda: First, was the fever, severe headache and then sore throat
Later when I woke up, I was feeling ill. So, I went to the hospital. Since I had taken some painkillers earlier, the fever and headache had subsided, so when the doctor did the initial examination, they prescribed some drugs and sent me home.
SM: What happened next?
Linda: That evening, I was feeling better. So, I went to work as usual. At work, my colleagues were complaining of the same symptoms. Now, I started getting nervous. Could it be Corona? We didn’t discuss it openly, but by the end of our shift we were all so tired and panicking. This happened on Wednesday. On Thursday, the symptoms hit hard and I couldn’t report to work.
Later I came to learn that one of the people I was in contact with had tested positive. So, I was taken for quarantine in one of the hotels set aside specifically for this reason. The doctors assigned at the hotel, took my body temperature and asked a few questions.
Something interesting happened on Friday morning. Upon going to take a shower, I came to a realization that I couldn’t smell the shampoos. I got scared. I hurriedly left the bathroom and almost emptied a bottle of perfume on me. Still, I could not perceive anything. I was panicking. I decided to make my usual concoction of lemon, and ginger with hot water. All the while, I could not smell the lemon or ginger. When the concoction was ready, it tasted of nothing. This was serious. The sense of taste was gone too. I quickly checked the internet and it confirmed that these were symptoms of COVID-19 as well.
By now, other symptoms such as stomach upset and diarrhea were also coming into play. So, when the nurse came to my room to check my temperature that mornıng, I informed her of my loss of taste and smell. The following morning, which was Saturday, I did the COVID test- mouth and nose swab. Sunday morning, I received a call from the reception. I was positive. An ambulance picked me and took me to the general hospital. At the hospital, before admission, further tests and X-rays were done.
SM: How was it being a patient?
Linda: At first, I was scared when I received the news that I had contracted the virus. When I went to the hospital, the doctors and the nurses were very committed. The first day, I was put under a lot of medication and the doctor said that as the days went by, the tablets would reduce. I was informed that after 5 days, further tests would be carried out to check my progress and if the results were negative, I would be discharged. Apart from the tablets, every evening a nurse would administer some medication through a drip. The doctor and nurses alike would pass by my room to ask about my progress and if I had developed any new symptoms. I was starting to feel more optimistic about the situation.
SM: How were you able to cope?
Linda: I was lucky to meet very friendly ‘wardmates’. I remember my first time at the hospital. I shared the ward with an old lady who gave me an account of her experience. She advised me to drink lots of fluids if I wanted to get better faster. She insisted I clean my hands frequently and remain positive. I also prayed often- it gave me some sense of peace. Additionally, my family and friends were very supportive, and checked on me frequently.
SM: What is the one thing that made you scared during the experience?
Linda: I would say the many tests, especially the swabs. Also, I was worried that I would be stigmatised if people knew I had contracted the virus.
SM: What inspired and kept you going throughout the period?
Linda: Seeing other patients being discharged from the hospital gave me hope that I would be fine too. Additionally, I had a cousin and an elderly aunt back in my country who had previously been infected. They shared their experiences with me, and that gave me hope as well.
SM: How soon did you get back your sense of taste or smell? How was it like and what did you first smell or taste?
Linda: These took a while. I remember even by the time I was leaving the hospital I had not recovered my senses. Probably, two days after arriving home, I was using an air freshener and just like that I could smell it. I was very excited. From then on, my olfactory system was back. I don’t really remember how my sense of taste came back, but it was also a few days after I was out of hospital. From my experience, I have since come to appreciate more every big or little function any part of my body does. Who knew how important the sense of smell and taste were before COVID-19!
Story as narrated by a student in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.