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Opinions of Friday, 24 September 2021

Columnist: Samuel Dowuona

Negative at last! My coronavirus experience

Author, Samuel Dowuona Author, Samuel Dowuona

It is very rare for anyone to rejoice over “negative” news. But there are a few instances in which the negative news is actually the positive news. One of those instances for me was when I did HIV test and the result came out “negative”. The second moment was when my third Covid test came out “negative”.

After battling with COVID-19 for several weeks, beginning from around mid-August this year, my third test result popped up in my mail at exactly 6.17 pm on the evening of Thursday, September 23, 2021, and it read “NEGATIVE”. It was the best news I have read in weeks.

My first test was on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, after I had struggled with fever, flu, headaches and cough for days. Like a typical African, initially, I did not want to believe I had contracted Covid, so, I even discarded the idea of going for a test, until I noticed the symptoms were getting very obvious and serious.

Then when I finally started verbalizing the possibility of being Covid positive, the Christian community around me also started encouraging me to have faith and not confess the worst. It is always good to keep your head up even if the worst is staring you in the face, so I could understand them.

Eventually, I did my first test on August 18 at the Greater-Accra Regional Hospital. I would have thought that for a disease that could get serious anytime and cause fatal damage, the test result would have come out the same day for the necessary steps to be taken, but it came on the afternoon of Friday, August 20, 2021, at which time my situation had gotten really worse because I was all the while treating just fever.

I can only imagine how many people got worse and died while waiting for Covid test results. We need to do better.

In fact, even the Friday was through some express channel by our own effort, and not even through the official channel. If we had waited for the official channel, we actually got a call from the one supposed to inform us on Sunday after we had seen the results and gotten medical advice on what to do on our own. And when I say we, I mean both I and my wife were diagnosed Covid positive.

Immediately, our doctor prescribed several medicines and a number of lab tests for both of us, because of the seriousness of the viral load, particularly in my case.

Midnight August 20

The lab results came and my wife’s did not indicate any much danger, but I was in some serious problem. And this is why the midnight of August 20, 2021, would go down as one of the most critical moments of my life.

Remember, this was the same day we got the result via our own express channel and our doctor gave us immediate prescriptions to act fast. We did all the lab tests and bought all the meds that same night. Very expensive, but we had to, and God provided miraculously for us to be able to afford it.

In fact, because the two of us tested positive, our doctor advised that we put everyone else in our household on the Covid medication, prior to their test.

And we do have quite a number in our household my parents live with us and there was their caretaker and another young man who spend virtually the entire day in our house. We bought meds for all of them. You can imagine the financial burden, but at that moment our health and very lives were more important.

One would have thought that since we had started taking the meds, things were going to get better, particularly with me, because I had been sick for more than a week. But at midnight on Friday, August 20, things got really worse for me after I took the meds.

My whole body started shaking; I started sweating profusely, and my breath practically went away. Simply put, I COULD NOT BREATHE. It was as if my lungs had been filled with some warm substance and when I try to breathe, the substance pushes the air back.

The Soft Voice

With the little breath in me, I kept shouting “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe…”. My wife then did her best to try and get some sugar into my system, so she made some warm tea with a lot of sugar, kept feeding me with the tea and some biscuits. Then suddenly, a soft voice spoke to me and said, “stop saying I can’t breathe and use the little breath you have to plead the blood of Jesus”.

Immediately, I changed my language and started shouting “Blood of Jesus, speak for me…Blood of Jesus, speak for me…”. After about a minute of pleading the blood of Jesus, the shaking started to stop and I could feel that air was now getting into my lungs. But I kept on pleading the blood because at the moment nothing else made sense.

I often don’t like being superstitious, but I strongly believe in miracles and I believe when you call on God in critical moments, once your prayer is in His will, He will answer you. There is no way anyone can explain away the fact that God intervened in my situation only after I changed by negative confession and started pleading for the saving power in the Blood of Jesus.

I am here and alive today because of divine selection; there are no two ways about that. I survived what many people could not survive with Covid without critical medical attention.

Indeed, the next day, my breath was much better, but not as it was before that night. So, we went to the hospital. After the initial examination, the doctor decided to put me on admission. She had even wanted to put oxygen on me but later decided against it because, to put it in layman’s language, the amount of oxygen going into my lungs was not too bad.

I spent the night at the hospital and was discharged Sunday afternoon, but with instructions to my wife, who is Nurse, to continue the care at home. They started IV treatment from the hospital and my wife had to continue at home. I lost count of how many IV fluids were put on me, not to talk about the number of canula incisions that had to be made on my hands to get the fluids in.

But I still had a lot to be thankful for because in my ward and in the ward next door, everyone was either on oxygen or on a ventilator, except me. Some had to be bathed and fed, but I could bath and feed myself. Some had to be wheelchaired to the washroom, but I could walk and go on my own. If we pay attention to our environment, we would often realize we have much more to be grateful for than worry about.

Eventually, we took everyone in the household for Covid tests and two more persons, including my 77-year-old mum came out positive, so we had to intensify their medication and find ways to protect my dad and the other person who tested negative. After two weeks of intensive medication, we all went to Noguchi and did another test.

Everyone’s result came out negative, except yours truly. I was not worried much because I was out of danger and my doctor had assured me that it was going to clear gradually. Indeed, I was told that someone else tested positive for six weeks after recovery, so, there was no need to worry. I was asked to return in two weeks for another test, which fell on September 23, 2021. Finally, the test came out negative.

The Experience

But apart from the critical and divine experience I had on the night of August 20, the entire Covid experience was one of the worst ever in my life with any sickness. That is the last thing I would ever wish on my worst enemy. I needed to eat and take my meds, but I had lost my sense of taste and smell, so the food would simply not go.

That was the first time I had to just put food in my mouth and swallow just to lay the foundation for the meds.

My mouth gets filled with saliva really fast and the water was very bitter too. At the night, I would often feel very warm and my head will really ache hard, unless there is a PMol IV fluid on me. Waking up to go and shower was like the whole building is on me and I need to get rid of it all by myself. It was the worst feeling ever.

And being in isolation alone is another ball game. I came to one conclusion. COVID-19 is demonic. No wonder even the most advanced countries are clueless on how to nib it in the bud.

Lemon Grass

But one small thing changed things for me. The lemongrass and pineapple skin concoction. My good friend, ministry partner, and best man at my wedding, who had had Covid previously (but not as serious as mine) told me of this concoction which must be drunk warm. It became the only thing that made sense to me in terms of taste and comfort.

It was a relief because it was easy on my tongue and throat and also brought an added advantage of gradually restoring my sense of smell and taste, just like I was told it would.

Africa, we some good things; we should use them more. All the expensive meds did me good, but in the end, it was lemongrass that restored my taste and smell, and I could easily swallow food and take my meds without trouble. We should trust our own some more. The Chinese focused on their local tea, warm water and steam inhalation to fight Covid, and it is helping them.

I believe if we looked closely within, we can find something to stop this virus. But the whole drive of African leaders is towards seeking help from elsewhere, and that is why some criminals would come and sell vaccines to us at exorbitant rates.

Vaccine Skeptics

Speaking of vaccines, I would like to advise all skeptics of the Covid vaccines to please do yourself a favor and just go for the jabs. My advice may not be scientific, but I was one of you because of the many things I have read.

My reason for being a skeptic was that this world has seen many situations where we are told that one medicine or something has no side effect. But years down the line, another report comes out saying some side effects have been discovered. With the Covid vaccines, the time was too short for any proper trial so the actual application of it in the trial, which I found risky.

But my wife told me something very intriguing. She said even if there was going to be a damaging side effect decades later, it was better for us to allow ourselves to be used as guinea pigs or lab rats so that our children and grandchildren will get better and safer vaccines when we are dead and gone. I thought that was very patriotic of her.

But when I decided to go for the vaccine, it was too late because my system had already been compromised, so I now have to wait for months after being cleared before taking the jabs.

Back to the start

But to date, I have been trying to figure out where I could have contracted the disease but with no success. Two possibilities come to mind – my parents’ caretaker was hit by some flu, fever and cough about two weeks before I contracted Covid.

We suspected she may have contracted it but she used some herbs to treat it and she became better, so we discarded Covid from the equation. But one day, as I was helping her to do something for my dad, she spoke into my face, and from that moment I started to catch flu and fever.

The other possibility was that, around the same time, a new office was opened for me and my team, after I had worked at home for months. I went to that office twice and could not go again because I caught flu and fever.

So, I still don’t know whether it was my parents’ caretaker who infected me or I may have picked it up at the new office or in transit because I used Uber for at least one of the trips to the new office.

Forever Grateful

Well, it is for God to know and for me to find out. But what I know is that my existence today is by divine selection and I can give praise to nobody but my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for letting His Blood speak for me at that midnight hour, on Friday, August 20, 2021. To date, when I think of that night, it brings tears to my eyes. It shall forever be my testimony and I will forever be grateful.

One more piece of advice before I go. When you face a critical moment and you are at your wits end, remember that confessing the problem would only make it worse. Confession a solution, call on Jesus; He will present His pierced palms to God on your behalf and tell God that he died so that you will be delivered from that challenge, and God will intervene in your case.