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Covid-19: A personal experience

By Hatred Zenenga

Some weeks back just before Christmas, I was diagnosed with Covid-19 after developing what I thought was a very bad flu. I had just returned from a workshop in Gweru, where I had interacted with many colleagues. One of them being Foster Dongozi, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ). Dongozi passed away a few days after we returned from the workshop. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

The Herald Editor Hatred Zenenga
The Herald Editor Hatred Zenenga

While at home, I paid due attention to my body to ensure I figured out what was happening to me. The bad flu was turning out to be something very terrible. I lost my senses of smell and taste, felt feverish, had a mild headache, felt weak in my joints, experienced shortness of breath and my lower back became very painful.

That is when my wife, Grace and son, Anotida, informed me that they were having symptoms similar to those attributed to Covid-19. It was not different from how I felt. So the three of us were now down.

I then went for a test at the Harare City Council Fire Brigade Station. Results took 72 hours to come and the symptoms were already profound. The family decided to just start steaming as a precaution. The three of us decided to go for tests at a private laboratory and the results came the same day confirming we were positive. Results of the first test also confirmed that I was positive.

Immediately after testing positive, we went into self-isolation. It was around Christmas period, and so there was just myself, my wife and my son. Our maid had gone away, an uncle we stay with and our other son were also away. We had to turn some relatives away as we could not risk infecting our loved ones.

At one time, the situation got quite bad in my case. The fever and shortness of breath worsened for two days. I had diarrhoea, developed a sore throat and felt severe body aches. This was on top of the other symptoms I felt earlier on. Worst of all was that I developed a very bad cough. This, I thought would knock me off.

It was a gruelling experience. The cough worsened, and there was a time when I was giving up. I would cough until I ran out of energy; this would lead to a choking sensation as I could no longer cough to clear my throat. The steaming helped a lot in clearing the whole system.

My friends arranged that three of us go to hospital, and had already secured an ambulance to come and pick us, but my wife, who is a nurse and whose infection was on the mild side, opted to take care of us at home.

At one stage I felt very frightened; I thought I was headed for the worst. Of course, we have recorded many recoveries in this country, but it felt like I had been given the death sentence. This was worsened by the spike in deaths that were being reported. You would wake up to a death notice every other day. The news of death dampened my spirit. Whenever my symptoms got worse, I started imagining the worst and would think I was going to be the next to go.

If it was not for the good care my wife provided during my illness, I can’t imagine how things would have turned out. Being a nurse, she made sure that I took my medication, steamed three times a day and that I ate regularly.

But as she took care of us, my wife would tell me that I was the one who had brought Covid-19 from the Gweru workshop.

Despite being worried at first, I was getting positive through the journey. At the back of my mind I was beginning to believe that I was going to make it. There were wonderful words of support and encouragement coming from relatives, family members and workmates.

I was receiving messages of hope from my bosses at work, relatives, workmates and friends. They kept telling me that I would be fine, and it helped lift my spirits.

Medically, I got doses of antibiotics and some Chinese medicine which helped me a lot. I was steaming three times a day, in the morning, during the day and at bedtime. It helped me breathe better.

My friends who had returned from China went out of their way to deliver the medicine (Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang) to me. I want to believe it was the game changer as I experienced change for the better after a few days of taking the medicine.

After two weeks in quarantine, we felt we were back in good shape and went for a retest, where we were given a clean bill of health,

I am now back at work. However, I haven’t fully regained my senses of smell and taste. The doctor said it would take a bit of time.

As I expected, there has been some stigmatisation at the workplace. You get people trying to avoid you and trying to avoid coming to your office. But the stigma is not affecting me much, because I understand why it is happening.

People also ask me if I have been retested and I have been open to explain that I had gone for a retest and the results were negative. Others are interested in understanding how I recovered, possibly they want to know the methods or they are simply curious.

I have been using the opportunity to tell colleagues that Covid-19 is a deadly disease and it is no joke. I was just lucky that I was in good care and I managed to make it. I want to tell everybody that they should take Covid-19 very seriously.

I get anxious when I see people lowering their masks or are without masks. Let us follow the protocols, especially limiting our travelling and visitors. Covid-19 is deadly. The news these days attests to what I am saying.

I think a lot of work has been done in terms of raising awareness. Everyone now knows there is Covid-19, and this includes young children. The lockdown which is in place has to be fully enforced. The first time it worked well, there is no reason it shouldn’t work well this time around.

I wish to express my utmost thanks to the company, Zimpapers for being there for me when needed most by taking care of my medical bills. Special mention go to the company nursing sister who was always calling everyday to check on me.

My message to fellow Zimbabweans is that the virus is here and it is with us. It is killing people, and it is up to individuals to take responsibility with their own lives. Following protocols from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and our own health experts will go a long way in helping this nation. The Herald

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