By Azuka Jebose
Two days ago, the death counts were at 122,000, from the coronavirus infection disease in the United States. These finest hours, more than 1500 beautiful people had died within two days. Additional 1500 loved ones shall mourn and bury their loved dead, perhaps, from a distance or be left in the hands of hospital Undertakers to bury them. They died lonely, alone, painfully and in anguish from this deadly unknown disease, raging from planet earth, yet most fools, including politicians and leaders, continue to deceive our world dwellers. This shit is real.
I do not always comment on posts of strangers on Facebook. But last week, I made a mistake. I trespassed into a conversation wherein the poster was ranting that he had been made to wash his hands in a Lagos Pharmacy before he was allowed to go into the drug store for purchases. How dared the pharmacy did that to him, he whined!. I tried to explain to him that we live in strange times, so the pharmacy had to put the policy in place to save lives against a raging pandemic. The “social media influencer’ engager didn’t want to see the reason for safety. His pride insulted and he felt coming to his space was a perfect way to run the pharmacy outta town. He responded to me thus: “You lost It”.
No, my friend. I did “not lost it”. I lived it and survived to tell. I will tell you that this shit is deadly. It is inconveniencing to family and loved ones, your community and society.
The disease infects you from different dimensions. Some lose a sense of smell, it attacks others mildly and others it decimates rapidly, surged through the weakest and vulnerable part of the body. It sneaks into you and like a ferocious cancer disease, begins immediate havoc on your immune system.
On my way home from my mechanic that Saturday afternoon, I suddenly felt a flu-like chill. Earlier, I had complained to the young super mechanic, Rasaki that I was very dehydrated under his garage. It was unseasonably hot in early June. “Egbon, emu Gatorage”, ( bros, drink this Gatorade”), he tried to cheer me up as I waited for my repairs. Soon after I left Rasaki, my friend and brother, the great cartoonist, Tayo Fatunla called from London, we carried on our conversation, occasionally informed him that “Omonla, I am getting tired and dehydrated”.
“Azuhhh, you ke, you dey sick?” He jabbed back.
By the time I got home, I had soaked and smeared in my sweat. This was unreal. The coughs began to intensify. I told my wife that I was feeling flu-like symptoms. I took a shower, swallowed and went to sleep. That night, everything began to manifest. The signs increased with a series of irregular breathing and gasping. By 9 am I was at the Urgent care and asked to be tested for flu-like symptoms and perhaps, COVID 19. I came here hoping as an Urgent medicine outlet, my result would be instant. No. I was tested and sent home. My result would be ready by the third day. I was advised if symptoms increased I should go to the hospital or returned to them.
Horrible night of increased body attacks, my lungs closing on me, my oxygen level was dropping. I didn’t understand what was happening. I was trying to wait it out as recommended by the Urgent Center. I moved into another room in my home. I suspected I had coronavirus and I must protect my wife and children: self-isolate!. The coughs and heavy gasp series intensified. My wife brought me dinner. I could not eat. My bathroom was less than two steps from the room, I was scared to go to the bathroom. The simple things of living and existence, normal daily exercise became painful and scary to perform as my body was under attack. I stayed almost ten hours to go and “piss’ in the toilet, afraid I may pass out. Each visit was a struggle for breath and oxygen. My wife cried. My daughter, Nneka would call and screamed: “dad why won’t you go back to the doctor”.
By Monday, this thing had become a fight to live or die. Nneka called back and threatened to call the Emergency Medical Service, EMS. Stubborn dad, but this time, she must save her dad. She called Alhaja and told her. Alhaja ran to my “self quarantined” space and became emotional:” whom are you going to leave me and the children for?. Nneka is calling EMS”. Within minutes, the Ambulance arrived and took me to the ER.
I spent eight hours at the ER of this hospital here. The hospital did a rapid test and confirmed that I had a Coronavirus infection. I tested positive. However, all other diagnoses and my immune system indicated that I was among the strong healthy people, 95% of the populace that would make it: I was advised to just stayed home, be patient and let it go through my immune system and expel. I had no known underlying medical challenges such as High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or Cancer. So the hospital, because of the surge in admissions and the public health crises, decided to discharge me that night but warned that if my situation continued, I must return to the hospital. My daughter ordered Uber to take me home.
The hospital surrendered me to COVID 19. The virus got angrier. How dared I went to the hospital. The next two days, it unleashed the most painful, powerful and pathetic carnage on my body, ravaging me carelessly, like one infected with ten powerful doses of malaria. His capture theatre was my lungs and breathe, the coughs intensified. I was hopeless and useless. My four-year-old daughter would breeze into my room:” dad how are you doing”, I couldn’t have a simple conversation with her.
I just waved at her, she looked sad, stood just to hug me. I refused. I told her to go to mom and I would talk to her later. Imagine that. Poor girl. She got disappointed as she walked to ask her mom to sadly ask her “why won’t dad talk to me”. This is the part that most of you ignorant people out there may not know about the emotional trauma grip this disease has on your loved ones. COVID destruction is larger than you could imagine.
Instead of me getting better, the fight became intensified: between me living or dying in my damn bed. It’s been five days since I had a bowel movement. I couldn’t go to the bathroom regularly without severe gasping. My “piss’ color changed to dark Lipton tea. No shave. No shower. No shit. Just pain, anguish and the fight to live through the day. Every food bite was a struggle just to quickly chew and swallow. I feared to choke by my own food. I was desperately losing oxygen. The next afternoon, Nneka called back EMS. It was getting really bad. Within five minutes, It arrived. The technicians came upstairs, strapped me in the chair and wheeled me downstairs. My home temp was 65 degrees. By the time they rolled me to the living room of my home, I had collapsed.
I subconsciously watched these healthcare providers loaded me into the Ambulance with an assurance that “buddy you. are going to be fine. The calmness of the environment that I was going back to the hospital re-energized my consciousness. So I brought out my phone and pleaded with the Ambulance Med to snap this picture, at least let my children see this if it’s the last take of dad riding outta planet earth in style!” I like this guy. You have a silly sense of humor”, I heard the guy said as he took the pictures.
A group of nurses and doctors had prepped up awaiting my arrival. They quickly rushed me into the ICU: Intensive Care Unit. About four lifesavers on me. One grabbed my hand, poked it, and immediately connected a drip:” Buddy you are going to be alright. You are here now. We are going to take care of you”, another doctor yelled at others.
These guys were running passionately and with care to save a life. They were dedicated and aggressive. My left hand became the blood depot of several types of blood drawn. As one activity leaves, another replaces EKG, done, blood pressure, done other vital things were happening fastly. I was still gasping heavily. My lungs were closing in on me. I was immediately hooked onto the oxygen to regulate and assist with my breathing. This shit was becoming too real. Thanks to my daughter who rebelled against dad. It was chaos in there to save me.
Two hours after I got to the ICU, the hospital stabilized me. I was moved to the ICU Unit and told I was on admission. The infectious doctor shall see me in the morning. I still could not eat or piss. I sat in the ICU alone and lonely. Its been about nine hours of the fight to stay alive. I had never been in this situation with my life. What would happen to my children and my wife?. So this was how I would go out in a blaze of pandemic?. Why are people careless about this disease with an unknown cure?. Why can’t people follow simple scientific cautions to live in strange times?.
This is not about “ I reject it in the name of Jesus”, or “its not my portion” or reject it in the name of any “Foreign Gods, Inc’, apologies to my mentor, Prof Okey Ndibe. This is real. This is deadly. Covid 19 is not selective. It does not give any gate pass to any paradise. It ravages everything you love: family and friends. Imagine the long walk to recovery, assuming you are one of the lucky ones: the trauma and disturbance or obstructions to your daily normal lives, the unnecessary intrusions into your organized “jeje’ lifestyle.
Within three days, the coronavirus infections advanced wickedly into my immune system and determined to scatter me before deadly exit. But my daughter’s constant harassment stood “gidigbam”. She sensed something, aided and abetted by my wife who was on the phone with her.
That first night at the ICU, I began to plan my burial. I wrote down everything. It was the most fearful, yet sincere acceptance of faith assignment I would ever undertake. I did not wish for my children to carry the financial burden of running around with their money to plan my burial. I guess Nneka and her sisters would be mad at me now for the real reason I sent each money from the hospital. I surrendered my daily activities to them, especially Nneka, to pay outstanding bills while I was waiting to live or died.
The next morning came fast and fresh. The infectious disease doctor came into my room and wanted to talk to my family member. I called my daughter and us -conferenced. The doctor informed us that yea I had contacted the severe part of the infection and I was a candidate for the new aggressive remdesivir trial medicine which seemed the only approved medication in the medical research to deal with the deadly disease. He further told us I shall be at the ICU for six days. The medication would be administered intravenously once a day every 4 pm for five days. My lungs and Oxygene level needed to heal and be steadied. It was going to be a long road to wellness, recovery, and stay in the hospital. He assured my daughter that because of my immune system and no known medical challenges in my health history, I should make a perfect recovery, but it would take time and patience.
No family deserves to go through these sudden and emotional interruptions in daily life’s activities. No matter the doctors’ assurances, there are still apprehensions, fears, anxieties and trauma on your loved ones/
I stayed in the hospital for 12 days, inside ICU, I couldn’t shower or shit, alone and lonely, connected to my dearest loved ones and friends by phone calls, video calls, and facetime: I began to plan my burial. I had to surrender everything to Nneka. Alhaja is still navigating her ways in this new frontier. It would be too overwhelming for her.. My daughters became her Guidan angel and support group, nursing both of us. Imagine how a strong organized disciplined life suddenly changed. Within a few days I had gone from one of the healthiest hustlers, husbands and goofy dads on planet earth to a helpless Giant on the slabs of a hospital ICU bed, perhaps, waiting to die.
I chose to write these with the hope and encouragement that those still ignorant would take this public health crisis seriously. It doesn’t matter where you are on planet earth, whether you are in Obodo Oyibo (USA, Britain, Italy, France), or you are somewhere in my dearest native land of Onicha Ugbo, COVID 19 is surging. People that are not supposed to die are dying. More shall die. The United States Center for Disease Control has predicted that 150,000 more people shall die by the end of July. If I can save one life from this writing, then I had played my part as a survivor of the deadly disease.
I didn’t have to reveal so many things here. But because I had been informed that at least I reach about 2,3Million contents, readers and followers, on my social media handles, I painstakingly decided, this morning, to tell the truth, share the other emotional impact of my experiences, perhaps, to help educate and save lives. This shit is real. I hope you will see the other side of this disease, the incredible sad effects on your loved ones. When this happens to you, it takes down your family. It affects everyone including your circle of friends.
This shit is real.
I shall write again.
*Please the prayers helped and its enough. I thank you for your prayers. I would rather you took this seriously and helped save your life so as not to put your family through this sad experience. Please continue to pray for the world and take this damn thing seriously. Protect yourselves. It will alter your life if it affects you. I do not wish this on my worse enemy. No human being deserves this painful experience to live, die, and maybe live again.
STAY WITH ME