6 Nigerians Discuss Surviving COVID-19

January 27, 2021

One year on, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage countries globally. While Nigeria seemed to have gotten away with a mild first wave, the country’s decrepit healthcare system is overwhelmed by a devastating second wave. I spoke to six Nigerians who had recovered from the disease.

Seyi, 20

I think I know the exact date and place I caught COVID. March 17th. Club DNA. A lot of IJGBs and people who were at the AMVCA were there. It was quite horrible. I had all the symptoms; fatigue, costochondritis (it literally feels like a heart attack), shortness of breath, gastrointestinal issues (ended up getting a bezoar that partly blocked my stomach), horrible reflux, dizziness, tinnitus and a host of other symptoms, losing 18kg in the process. I was so sure I was going to die. 

I’m one of the unlucky people who get long COVID. This means that ten months later, I’m still suffering and there’s no end in sight. I feel sorry for the new set of COVID long-haulers. I’ve met two others, and it’s a really shitty condition.

Yemi, 27

It started suddenly with pain all through my body. Because I had been exposed to mosquitoes before then, I treated malaria. I felt better for a few days, then the incessant headaches started. I treated malaria again because I was convinced I had used a fake anti-malarial at first and I had a persistent bitter taste in my mouth. I went to a high-end pharmacy and bought the most expensive anti-malarial and imported panadol. My symptoms didn’t stop, instead, I just got progressively sicker.

I started having difficulties breathing, couldn’t stand for extended periods without feeling exhausted and felt like something was lodged in my throat, no matter how much water I drank. That’s when I started suspecting COVID. I didn’t think it was the virus before because I live like a hermit, seldom going out. I cook and order everything and go weeks without leaving my apartment. When I do, I was masked up and armed with a sanitiser. I was tested last Tuesday and before I received the result, I started experiencing a tingling sensation in my lower limbs, like someone was poking me with a sharp object.

I’m currently managing it at home with a drug regimen, which my HMO provided alongside a BP machine, blood sugar machine and oximeter. I still wake up feeling tired and my breathing hasn’t normalised. Sometimes, I have to use a nebuliser to help me breath better.

Joe, 29

I’m a doctor, so it wasn’t too surprising that I caught it in June 2020. Started with the usual fever, body pain and headache. I tested positive for malaria parasite and started treating it with drugs and injections, but the symptoms didn’t stop. After finishing the last dose of drugs, I could smell nothing, not even perfumes. Cough and catarrh started and I realised it was COVID. Despite this, I tested negative for COVID but tested positive for antibodies.

I couldn’t smell anything for 12 days until I smelt bird poo that had dropped on my hand. I had never been so happy to smell shit in my life. Now, I practically have malaria every three weeks. I guess COVID makes you vulnerable, even after you’ve conquered it.

Kamsi, 28

I caught COVID in December, two weeks before my wedding. Then I infected my brother, niece and sister. We suspect it was my older sister that infected me, and by extension, us. It started with a terrible stomach ache in the middle of the night. I was rushed to the hospital and they gave me some pain relief intravenously. They ran some tests and they said it was malaria. When I finished the malaria meds, I had a constant headache, cold and fever. I even lost 6kg in two weeks.

I went back to the hospital for more tests and they said I had an upper respiratory infection. I believed because I usually have rhinitis. The drugs didn’t help still. I couldn’t walk or do anything, except being in bed. Then one day, I wanted to shower and I couldn’t smell my soap. I said hmmm. While I was eating, my sister asked if the food was nice and I couldn’t tell. That’s how I realised it was COVID. Went for a test but started medication and it eventually left. Nobody tells you the part that the tiredness doesn’t go away or how you could lose your sense of balance.

Ugo, 28

I never went out except for groceries and occasionally to restaurants that were COVID regulations compliant. I tried to do everything right.  My roommate got infected and she didn’t tell me about it. I was even taking her to hospitals but didn’t suspect COVID until it was too late. I lost my sense of taste and smell and the test result said I was positive. I had only one symptom and I started medication and communion immediately (LOL I’m a Christian like that). My symptoms stopped after 5 days and now, I’m just waiting for two weeks to do another test. I feel guilty because she’d still in the hospital and all I had to do was isolate at home. 

Beyonce, 26

It started off with fatigue, irritation and lack of appetite on the 31st of December but I thought it was a hangover. By the 2nd, I had a sore throat. On the 3rd, cough. I assumed these were because I got sand in my lungs during a desert safari I had done in Dubai. By the 4th, I was so down that I had to do a test on the 5th and I wasn’t surprised when it came back positive. At this point, I couldn’t lie on my back because I would suddenly have a coughing fit.

I had to pay for mandatory isolation in Dubai, but luckily, the medical travel insurance I bought before I travelled covers COVID so I’m getting a full refund. I’ll advise anyone travelling to buy medical insurance that covers COVID. I tested negative and was released on the 15th. Still, I didn’t go scot-free. I can’t climb stairs or lift heavy objects without holding my chest. I still have phlegm in my throat.

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