Ever since the lockdown eased up, there has been a relaxed atmosphere among Nigerians. Fewer people are wearing masks and there are “small parties” happening all over the country. Understandably, people are tired.
How worried would you feel if you avoided these parties, followed the necessary guidelines, and still got COVID-19? Today, Lisa and Tomiwa share their experience with taking precautions and still getting infected.
When did you first suspect that you had COVID-19?
My wife fell ill, and that made us get tested. I wouldn’t have known I was sick if she hadn’t fallen ill because I’m completely asymptomatic.
Damn, what were her symptoms?
She had a fever that lasted two or three nights. The type where the fever disappeared during the daytime and came back at night. She was also tired – a lot of fatigue – like constantly tired.
Then she lost her sense of smell.
Prior to her falling ill, she would go to work once a week. Other than that, we only went out for essential shopping like groceries. And that was like once every two weeks. Apart from grocery shopping, I’ve not had any reason to go out because I’ve been working from home.
At the beginning of her illness, I think she went to work once – One day when she was feeling better, and before we got the diagnosis that it was COVID-19. Immediately we got the diagnosis, we informed people in our compound. Now, we’re just isolating inside our house.
We are fitness people. Before this started; we were dosing up on vitamins, keeping fit and just staying healthy. Our cook came in one Monday morning after going home for the weekend and said he had malaria, so we sent him home. We told him to go isolate and get tested. Then my wife fell ill the next day.
We are a little bit concerned that she might have gotten it from him. Now it’s just the two of us at home and I’ve been looking after her. It’s been two weeks of giving her vitamins, food, and just kind of keeping the house together. She’s been fine and hasn’t been doing too much.
Has this affected the quality of your 9-5?
The best thing about working from home is that your schedule is your own. If you want to wake up earlier, you can do that. If you want to work later in the evening, you can also do that. The difference between being in the office and now is that I’ve done a hundred loads of laundry since this thing started.
It just feels like I’m always washing clothes. It feels like I’m always doing dishes. It’s just the two of us at home, why are there so many bloody dishes? Why are there so many bowls?
You just do stuff on your own schedule. If you have a call, you take your call. The thing about calls is that if it’s a conference call where you’re not the one talking, you can mute and be doing the dishes while it’s happening. So, you’re taking your phone and moving it around while you’re doing things. You finish a call, you make lunch, you do some work, you do the dishes.
Because we’re home, it’s a bit easier to manage the time pressure and the logistics of the thing. If she were ill and I had to go to the office, that would change the equation completely. In a sense, it’s a blessing that it’s happening this way.
I’m curious. Are you saying she got Corona even with preventive measures?
In the first two months of the quarantine – like March, April and most of May, we were super strict. As I said, we have someone who works with us, but for at least the first 8 weeks, we just sent him home – and we were paying salary o. Just sit down in your house and be collecting salary, don’t come to work. We also didn’t receive visitors.
The lockdown eased in like two or three stages. When the government eased it the second time, we were like “we’re tired”, so we let the guy come back to work.
Then, after they released the lockdown again, my wife started going to work.
When the cook came back to work – we told him to have a shower, change his outside clothes to inside clothes, and wear a mask before coming into the house. We knew that wasn’t the most ideal protocol but we relaxed a little bit, with the mask.
Why didn’t your wife continue working from home?
She works in manufacturing and they sometimes have to go in.
Ah, I see. What has been the scariest day since she got ill?
The scariest day health-wise was the first day. She had a fever so bad that I really wanted to take her to the hospital but we knew that hospitals would turn us back because of COVID fear. She had really bad headaches, and was super tired; that was worrying. When she lost her sense of smell, we were like “oh, this might be COVID.” Then when we got our results, we were like “right, we’re positive.”
Then there was having to tell people. There’s still a huge stigma to it; different people react differently. Some people were angry with us for not telling them quickly enough, others were really worried for us – We were just like we have this thing but don’t be scared, she seems to be okay. Thankfully, I think her case is relatively mild. She hasn’t had any breathing issues. She’s been taking her vitamins and just resting. She took paracetamol to break the fever. But it hasn’t been as bad as some of the cases we’ve heard of.
So, I think the health scare hasn’t been as bad for us.
Whew! How did you guys even get tested?
So we did two tests.
A friend had the antibody tests and we took two of those. It’s a blood test that you do at home. The way it’s supposed to work is that if you have the disease or you’ve had it, there are antibodies to show that your body is fighting it. Or that your body developed antibodies to fight it.
There’s an IgG antibody. Basically, if you have it, it means your body is currently fighting it. Then, there’s IgM which means you had it and your body developed antibodies to fight it. So, we took that and they came back negative. But we were advised to still take a proper COVID test.
My dad told us about Mainland hospital in Yaba where we could get it done. So we just drove down there and got tested, it took about 90 minutes and it was completely free. They sent us back home, and we got our results back in about 3 or 4 days.
How did you guys handle the apprehension as you waited?
She became sick on a Tuesday. We thought it doesn’t seem like COVID. It’s just a headache, fever, tiredness. Then by Friday of that week, she lost her sense of smell. So, we were like “ah, this might be COVID.”
Before we even knew it was COVID, we went to a regular hospital. They did a blood test for malaria and it came back negative. We then went to Mainland hospital in Yaba to get tested for COVID. And remember, it took them 3-4 days to get our results. So, we were basically managing it ourselves for almost two weeks.
The instructions from the internet have been to boost your immune system: Eat food that’ll boost your immune system. Take vitamins like Vitamin c, Zinc, Vitamin D and then a general multivitamin. If you have a fever, take paracetamol. So, there’s no chloroquine, or treating yourself for malaria and all of that. Just treat your symptoms, isolate at home, and drink lots of fluids.
We did have some apprehension after we took the test that she might have to go to an isolation centre, but we’ve been able to isolate at home.
So, it’s been like DIY?
Cool. What about this current crisis gives you hope based on your own experience?
There are two or three things that give us hope:
One – She got it and it wasn’t as bad as we’ve heard it can be. I don’t know if it’s because we have a lighter strain in Nigeria. I don’t know if it’s because she has no relevant underlying conditions. She was in really good health ahead of time. We are fitness people and take vitamins even when there’s nothing on the horizon. If you have a healthy immune system and no underlying condition, there’s a possibility that it won’t be that bad. I’m not saying people shouldn’t take it seriously, but we got a relatively mild case of it.
Secondly, I’ve been asymptomatic. so that gives some kind of hope. Like my test came back positive, but I’ve been fine. I don’t know if I’m immune or anything, but I’m fine.
Thirdly, the testing was efficient even though 90 mins is a long time to wait. To be fair, we were number 98 on the queue. There were a lot of people and it was relatively well-spaced and organized. It was orderly, there was not too much shalaye. The process was just to fill this form and give them that information, then we got tested. It looked like it was a well-run process.
The results take some time to come out, which can be a bit annoying. Other than that, it’s fine.
Nice. How have you been coping with the isolation boredom?
So, both of us have been working out at home. Even with this thing, we’re still exercising. It’s also been work, tv, and books.
The silver lining of this thing is that I’ve never hung out alone with my wife for so long – that’s a good thing. I’m enjoying that.