Deputy Director of Mental Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Sacrifice Chirisa, has shared his experience after surviving Covid-19.
Dr Chirisa, who is also a specialist and psychiatrist, urged people not to discriminate against Covid-19 victims.
He said this after surviving the virus together with his family.
“I want to share my short journey that I went through having suffered Covid-19.
“I was infected early in the month of July, I was probably one of the first medical practitioners in the country to go through that.
“I am happy now, that’s why I am here and sharing because I have just tested negative, totally recovered, symptoms free but my journey started at the beginning of July, maybe the third or the fourth, I am not quite sure.
“At that time, my wife is the one who started having symptoms, she told me that she was having fever and just about two to three days , then I also had similar symptoms but she recovered within three days.
“We actually went to a laboratory to have Covid-19 rapid test done.”
Chirisa said they both tested negative but his condition began to worsen.
“I remember it was on a Sunday afternoon because we were having so much fever.
“When we went there, we were both tested and the results were negative and that gave us a bit of comfort thinking that it was just the flu.
“During the following week she had fully recovered but as for me, I progressively became ill, the fever became magnified, I would feel so cold, even if I heaped all the blankets, I would still feel the fever and the cold, and nothing could really heat me up.
“I would literally sweat and I would leave my pyjamas, and sheets drenched and sleep with the towel where I would be wiping the sweat during the night and I would have those cold, chills very much
“A persistent irritable cough developed and ended up having chest pains and one day on a Friday that was terrible, I couldn’t wake up, I lost my sense of smell, taste, everything was not tasting.
“I lost my appetite that prompted me to go for a PCR, I asked a friend of mine to write a lab request.”
“I got tested, 24 hours later I received a call, that I was positive, I don’t even know where it came from, I cannot point to a person or patient or situation that I can say maybe it was the source.
“Up to now I am still baffled where it came from, maybe it’s because of the widespread community transmissions that are rampant now in the country.
“So when that happened, the fever was continuing and I called a few friends of mine who are physicians in the frontline in terms of treatment of the Covid-19.
“They gave me things which I could use, prescriptions that I needed to buy and I bought Vitamin C, D, zinc, and other antibiotics, augmenting.
“I did have the supply of chloroquine which I didn’t use and other medications which I was told to use when I am serious.”
He said the fever persisted.
“The fever continued, with the use of antibiotics I even developed diarrhoea, I am not quite sure if it was because of Covid-19 or maybe it was the use of antibiotics, I am not sure.
“But over that week, and I was now taking other home remedies, Zumbani tea, ginger, lemon and I would have 4 cups per day and things like that.
“The most difficult thing that went through my mind was the psycho social because I was in the top thousand in this country, probably the first medical doctor to test positive and I was afraid.
“And the first thing I was afraid of was dying after having seen all those people in Italy, China even locally who were dying.
“I had an underlying cause, I am hypertensive on treatment, so all those thoughts came, I wasn’t sleeping, I was quiet, I did not want to talk, and so those are things that happen to you when you are in isolation.
“You are also by yourself, I had friends who would come and they would bring supplies, or medication something like that, and they would literally throw the medication over the gate and they would stand there.
“I thank them obviously because they needed to be safe as well.
“While I was in isolation for 21 days, my last born child, grade two also became positive, and the reason was, it was so difficult to keep him away from me as he could not understand the isolation process, so he would just run to me but the others were grown, they would stay in their rooms, far away from us and when the rapid team came to test the rest of the family, rest of the people who stayed away were negative but my child and obviously my wife who was nursing me tested positive. But I am also happy to report that now, they are both negative,” said Chirisa.
He urged people with underlying conditions to be careful.
“When my child fell ill, probably one day, that day he wasn’t sleeping , he said he had a headache, fever, not playing, not eating, just one day and the next day he was up and running.
“So the other two had mild forms of Covid-19, I probably had the moderate because I was ill, it was a bit prolonged over almost two weeks and I would measure my temperature, pulse and at some point the pulse was 116.
“I think the take home message I want to give to people who have pre-existing medical conditions, like diabetes, hypertension is this is the time that they (the conditions) are well controlled. Don’t wait to control them when you have Covid-19 because you don’t want to be disturbed.
“It’s better for Covid-19 to come and you are well controlled instead of your sugars being high and your blood pressure being high because it will change how your body reacts to that,” said Dr Chirisa.
Dr Chirisa, urged people not to discriminate.
“One of the things I really want to speak about is the stigma, the reason why I volunteered and come out, being a mental health practitioner and being a doctor, I really wanted to come out and say look, I had Covid-19 and it was not my fault and I can do anything, there is nobody to blame and there are a lot of people who are going to have Covid-19 and they need to be treated like people.
“I have had some people calling me, being called by Covid-19 centres, epi centres, asking should we hold them with gloves and things like that.
“But I am saying discrimination and stigmatisation of somebody who has suffered or is going through Covid-19, is that at that point all you need is support, care, and to know that somebody cares about you instead of being stigmatised.
“That’s why I came out so that we try to break the stigma and this thing is exploring and more people will have that, I hope more people will come out and share their experiences.
“But that was my experience and I want to thank God that I am still here alive, I am now back at work.
“But I want to say Covid-19 is real, let’s continue to practice, sanitation use of masks, physical distancing that is very key.”
He also encouraged those in isolation to have a busy mind, thinking positive not to worsen the situations.
“And for those that are suffering at home try to restructure your life, that’s what I did during the isolation, I would not go shopping, I would wake up listening to something motivational, read a book, watch a movie, find yourself something to do, don’t just sit in bed.
“I think sitting in bed and just thinking negative thoughts will make you worse.
“You want to feed yourself with positive news, you want to be there for your family, have that energy and that positivity is very key.
“For those who then develop symptoms especially who then need oxygen, how then do you know you need oxygen? You ran out of breath, you can’t speak a sentence without gasping, but if you can speak a sentence then you don’t need oxygen.
“The most important thing about oxygen is early oxygen therapy, a lot of people are dying because they are coming to hospital late, and they are receiving oxygen late.
“When you see yourself start struggling with breathing, go and get oxygen support so that your body doesn’t deteriorate further.
“I thought this would help someone out there,” ended the doctor’s chronicle. hmetro