Beating Covid: Kabuye was first treated for ulcers and discharged

Ms Jackie Lutty Kabuye during the interview. PHOTO/RACHEL MABALA

What you need to know:

  • In  this series  dubbed ‘Beating Covid,’ we trace victims who caught the virus and overcame it. Benson Tumusiime shares the story of a fashion designer who acquired the virus from friends but it took several days before it could be detected.

It was one Saturday evening after she had had a training that Ms Jackie Lutty Kabuye, a fashion designer in Kira Municipality, Wakiso District, started feeling unwell.

“I thought it was fatigue when I felt very weak. When I came back home with my daughter, she complained of stomach pain and that she too had a headache. We took pain killers that night but they didn’t work,” she says.

“The following day, my body was so hot and I was nauseous. So I went to TMR Hospital in Naalya. When they checked my temperature, it was 39.3 degrees. I was immediately put on a drip and given medication,” Ms Kabuye adds.

However, she says while she was given medication, the doctors did not tell her what they were treating. When she asked them, she was told that she was really sick and they were doing their best to make her fine.

“The doctors worked on bringing my temperature down and they gave me three tablets. All were for ulcers. They discharged me and told me that if I didn’t feel better the next day, I should go back for another check-up,” Ms Kabuye says.

“That night was one of my worst because I didn’t sleep. I was sweating and my body was hot. So I went back to TMR Hospital to tell them that maybe they were treating a wrong disease. I then told the doctors to do a Covid-19 test, both for me and my daughter, and the results were positive,” she narrates.

Because the hospital was charging highly, she decided to go to Najjera Hospital to get Covid-19 treatment.

Kabuye tells more about her experience in this question and answer.

How did you feel after getting the Covid-19 test results?
When I got my results, I felt better because I knew now what I was treating. I had that peace of mind because I knew what was making me sick.

Where do you think you might have got the infection from?
We got the infection from our friends. We went to visit friends in Ntinda who had tested positive, but when we came back and did tests on ourselves, the results were negative. May be the virus was there but it was not detected at that time. Our friends tested positive on Thursday, and on Friday we went to see them. That Friday we went to the hospital to test for Covid-19 but the results at that time were negative.

What were the symptoms that you experienced?
We got fever, body pain and were vomiting.

What were some of the difficult moments that you experienced during the time of illness, what went on in your mind at that time?
Breathing difficulties. I was also afraid. When I would go to the hospital and see people on oxygen dying, I would think that I would die the next day. On those nights, I could hardly sleep.

What kind of treatment did you use for your symptoms?
What really helped me is my faith and the willingness to do what doctors were telling me. Najjera Hospital doctors were good; they gave me medication and advised me on how to use them accurately. I spent three days on drip and what I discovered is that with Covid, it’s a gradual process, you cannot wake up one day and say, ‘I am now fine.’ I didn’t use any concoctions such as ginger and lemon, but I steamed for three days. What I used was the medication that I got from the hospital and the doctor told me to drink three litres of water whether cold or hot.

What kind of support did you get from family and friends that helped you in recovery?
We had friends who were praying for us, they showed up with food. My gatekeeper, however, ran away from us when he heard that I tested positive for Covid-19. He used to cook for us but when he knew that I had Covid, he run away for some days till our neighbour called and told him that I was now okay. 

Did you face any stigma during illness or after?
I did not face a lot of stigma because all my friends and relatives were there for me; some understood that Covid is like any other disease that can be cured despite the high rate of community transmission. This house used to be full of people, from time to time who came with food, so really I didn’t feel that much stigma during and after recovery.

So what’s your advice to those who have got it and those still ill from it?
I realise that if you fear Covid, you will die before your time. But the moment you have faith and believe that you are going to get healed, you will get better. Don’t isolate yourself, and listen to the doctors.

What is your biggest lesson or takeaway from this experience?
It’s not good to isolate yourself completely from people. Having people encourage and help you as much as they can, gives you courage and improves the process of healing. It’s also important to always wear facemasks and sanitise as many times as you can. When I went to visit my friend who had tested positive, I sanitised once but me and my daughter spent quite a lot of time there.

Growing Trend
Just like Ms Kabuye, there are cases where Covid-19 patients may falsely test negative. In his last Covid-19 update to the country, President Museveni said: “For example, the individual may have taken the test and the virus is no longer in the nose or throat, but the virus is in other parts of the body or it has already started the “body panic crisis,” which in some cases may lead to death.”
According to Dr Misaki Wayengera, the head of the government scientific advisory committee on Covid-19, such cases are referred to as presumptive or probable Covid-19.
Dr Monica Musenero, the minister in-charge of Science, Technology and Innovation in the Office of the President, said in such scenarios, the test turns out to be negative but the virus may continue to make the person sick and even cause death.
Dr Wayengera said many presumptive cases have been registered in the country but the person will present symptoms that the doctor can use to still make a diagnosis of Covid-19.
Asked whether this is caused by late testing, Dr Wayengera said: “It is just the sensitivity of the test. All tests have level of sensitivity. There is window period, the test is not sensitive enough to pick the virus because the virus has not built up in the body.”

He added: “That’s why government decided to give free tests for those with symptoms. We don’t do that blindly, the sensitivity is highest when people have started to develop symptoms.” The best time for one to go for the Covid-19 test is between the sixth and the eighth day when the symptoms start, according to Dr Wayengera. On what one should do in case of a presumptive test, experts said, it depends on how serious the disease is. If an individual is sick, health workers use symptoms and other laboratory tests suggestive of Covid-19 to offer treatment.

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