TUESDAY. December 29, 2020: My son got back from work and said he suspected he had Covid, because he had a sore throat, head and body ache. He bought malaria drugs and cough syrup. As a precaution, we both started wearing face masks in the house and kept our distance from each other.
WEDNESDAY. December 30, 2020: After taking the cough syrup, the sore throat eased, but the malaria drugs did not stop the head and body ache. The headache was unusual, he said, as it affected the frontal part of his face majorly. I told my other children, who upon research bought Hydroxychloroquine, Azythromycin, Vitamin C, Lemsip and Nurofen for pain. He started taking everything.
THURSDAY. December 31, 2020: Even with all these drugs, he wasn’t getting any better. My children told me to start treating myself as a precautionary measure because of the exposure. I thought there was no need for that because I was not sick, no sore throat, no headache, no body pain, nothing, but I took two Hydroxychloroquine tablets anyway since it is for malaria, I left the antibiotics out. A few hours later, the reaction was violent and I became really sick. I thought the drugs were too strong for me. I became restless, I could not sleep, I started shivering, when I put off the AC, I began to sweat profusely. I started praying for the effect of this strong drug to wear off.
FRIDAY. January 1, 2021: By now, the effect of the Hydroxychlorquine was wearing off, I only had a dull ache and a general feeling of unwellness. For my son, his condition had not changed even as he continued to use all the drugs, so I told him we had to go and do a Covid test. Enough of self medication. I called the CMD of the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, Dr Abimbola Bowale, who Her Excellency, Mrs Oluremi Hamzat, wife of the Deputy Governor of Lagos State had graciously introduced me to and he arranged for us to get the test done. Everyone in the house went. At IDH, the Doctor we saw, Dr Ogunsanya took our samples and while talking to my son, he noticed his unusual voice and asked if he had sinusitis. He replied, No. The Doctor said he suspected sinus infection, told him to stop all medication and switch him to Augmentin, Vitamin C, Zinc and pain killers.
SATURDAY. January 2, 2021: Like magic, the Augmentin was working, my son was getting better. I was still feeling poorly.
SUNDAY. January 3, 2021: My son was feeling much better. His body ache was gone, only dull headache. I had slight headache and was indescribably fatigued and my eyes were looking like red hard pebbles. After two units of prayer, I had to lay down on the prayermat and all my prayers were done sitting down from this point.
MONDAY. January 4, 2021: Alhamdu lillah, my son was completely ok. At 1.39pm, Dr Bowale called that he had one Result. “Who is Shareefah?” I said, “that’s me”. “The Result is positive”. POSITIVE! Me? It took a few moments before I found my voice. “So what should I do?” He asked if I had any symptoms, I told him not really, but narrated the Hydroxychloroquine experience. He said, “it was Covid you had then”. COVID! He sent me the prescriptions and told me to self isolate.
THE GOD FACTOR: My son did not have Covid, I had it. Out of His Mercy, Allah, Most Merciful had to make me go for the test and get treated. My son gave the false Covid alarm and immediately, we all started taking precautions in the house, if God had not pushed him to make that false alarm, I probably would have unknowingly infected everybody in the house including my 88year old mother (even the thought of that is horrifying). If I hadn’t taken the Hydroxychloroquine when I did as a first attack, the virus might have ravaged my system and might have been too late to treat. Alhamdu lillah, it ended up being mild, I experienced total loss of smell, loss of taste, lack of appetite, insomnia, excessive sweating, headache, intense fatigue, phlegm that was not coming out, that was just stuck somewhere at the back of the throat, but no sore throat, no cough, no breathing problem and surprisingly no high temprature. I can only pray to God to give those with more severe symptoms complete healing. He is the Great Healer.
HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN? Ever since the Covid saga began, for someone who has a bit of OCD, I was permanently paranoid. I could go to the bathroom five times in five minutes to wash my hands at the beginning. For almost a year now, I do not use my hand to open doors, I have perfected the use of my elbow, then my shoulder and if need be, I use my foot to wedge the door. I do not use other people’s pens, I minimize the handling of cash, if I need to use the POS machine at the filling station, which is not often, I hold it with a tissue paper and another piece of tissue on my forefinger to punch in my pin. I always ignore the funny looks. I clean surfaces with Hypo all the time. The first thing the few people I told said was, you? Because they know how mortally scared of CORONA VIRUS I was. One of my children remarked, “So Corona finally broke through our defence!”
I NEED TO KNOW. Once the Federal Government imposed the lockdown in April, 2020, I never attended any social event until late November 2020. Between November and December, I attended four events. The fourth and last one was on SUNDAY, December 27, 2020. It was a very small happy event, where everyone was Covid-conscious and everyone wore a mask. At the point of taking pictures, it was suggested that we remove our masks so faces could show in the pictures. We did. After the picture, drinks were served and masks were down to sip the drinks. As we were leaving, someone was holding my right hand, I had the malt in my left hand, my mask was down and there was a big sneeze and I practically walked right into the sneeze. Alarmed, I said in my mind, “Oh my God, I hope they won’t give me Corona in this place”. I got into the car, used the hand sanitizer, and was pensive all the way home. I got home, washed my hands and face and forgot about the whole thing. Trying to figure out how I caught this virus, maybe it was at this event because of the timeline, maybe not, maybe I never will know. One thing I know is that all COVID protocols of Face Mask, Social distancing, Coughing or Sneezing into curved elbow were broken in this case, and if not for Grace, it could have been a different story.
THE HEALING BEGAN: I got all the prescriptions, told my children, who were in a panic at this point, that I will not go into isolation and be moping, I will turn it into Khalwah – a spiritual isolation where you spend time with your Creator, talking to no one and leaving out worldly activities. I decided I was going to start and finish reading the whole of the Qur’an by the time I was done. No TV. For a TV addict, that was tough. I decided to make the best of the time. I kept my spirit up. I focused on the number of people that survived and not the number that succumbed to Covid and was determined to survive through the Grace of God. I forbade my children, who were the only ones that knew from saying, “E pele Mummy”. I insisted nothing was wrong with me, but after the phone calls and the goodbyes, I sat quietly alone in my room and I began to cry.
WHY TELL?: After I was certified free, I told someone about my Covid story and said I was going to write about it. He said I shouldn’t because people may look at me funny and probably start avoiding me. I smiled, because at this point, I am the one who is scared of everybody and would probably be avoiding many. In another vein, I told a sister who said she was planning to hold a Remembrance prayer for her late mother, but since she heard my story, she decided to cancel it. That is the purpose of this write-up and why it must be published. It might help someone, it might help a lot more. The three simple but effective COVID protocols of Face Mask, Social distancing, Coughing or Sneezing into curved elbow are to be adhered to. They can save lives.
THE REAL CURE: For me, CORONA VIRUS turned out not to be an occasion of distress, but a gift of Mercy from Allah, Most Gracious. I was able to start the year spiritually charged by completing the whole Qur’an in the first fifteen days of the year. I gained more insight into our mortality and have better prioritization of what is important. I learnt that no matter how we guard against Covid, and we should do everything to guard against it, GOD FACTOR is still the IT. For people who have not been infected by this virus, may God protect you, please always adhere to the Covid19 protocols, do not let your guard down for a moment, no one knows when the vaccine will get to Nigeria, if it will ever come. For people who have succumbed, may God Almighty grant them Paradise, because according to Islam, anyone who dies in a pandemic, Paradise will be his abode. This should comfort the families. For those who are in treatment, may God give them complete healing. For those who have been healed, may you remain grateful for ever.
There is nothing arbitrary or haphazard in God’s way. The bad experience we are having today might actually turn out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to us tomorrow. We do not see the whole Plan or Will, but we have faith, and believe that, all is, will be, must be right in the end. May Allah heal the World.
Shareefah Abiola Andu is the CEO of ARABEL and the Founder of ALEEF TV
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