What you need to know:
- In this series ‘Beating Covid’, we trace victims who caught the virus and overcame it. Damali Mukhaye talked to Narasi Kambaho, who confesses that had it not been for the love and care his wife offered him, he would not have easily recovered from the deadly virus.
Mr Narasi Kambaho, a senior Information and Communications Technology (ICT) officer at Uganda Business and Technical Examination Board (Ubteb), tested positive for Covid-19 on June 10 at Mulago National Referral Hospital.
He went to Mulago on June 9 to test for Covid after he developed malaria-like symptoms.
His wife, Ms Peggy Kemirembe is the one who received his results when she picked a call to his phone on June 10.
Where he got the virus
Kambaho suspects he got the infection from a bus.
“A week before, I had travelled from Gulu City to Kampala using a bus. I had a face mask on but my nose was not covered given the discomfort I felt,” he says.
On June 3, while at his farm, Mr Kambaho felt signs of malaria. A few days later, he then got a terrible headache, cough, chest pain, joint pains, loss of appetite, loss of smell, loss of taste and a fever.
“I took malaria tests at a hospital in Kasangati, Wakiso District but they did not find any malaria. They gave me some drugs to take. I took them but I was not improving. I went back [to hospital] on June 8, for more tests but my nephew, Benson Kiiza, a health worker, advised me to take a Covid-19 test.
“I requested doctors to come and do a Covid test from my home on June 8. We waited for results, only to be told they had a backlog of tests. So I called [Ministry of Health spokesperson] Emmanuel Ainebyona, who directed me to Mulago hospital, where I went and did the test on June 9. I got the results the following day.
“I got so scared on getting the results and I asked myself many questions given the survival rate and death toll at the time. Death as a possibility was on my mind throughout, given the death rate in the first week of June. This was due to the death of many people I knew, especially in the media fraternity such as Felix Basiime of Daily Monitor, and the Bishop of North Kigezi Benon Magezi,” Kambaho says.
“I shared the results with Ubteb executive secretary, Mr Onesmus Oyesigye, Dr Keith Kakame of Kiruddu hospital, whom I sought advice from, for possible medication,” he recalls.
“I looked at my young family, with the eldest in Primary Six, I looked at my parents, who are in their old age, the relatives in the house and my personal strategic plan. All this made me panic so much, especially on the first day,” he adds.
“Whenever I watched news about the deaths, especially of my friends, I got so scared,” Kambaho recalls.
However, numerous phone calls and messages from his colleagues in the communications fraternity, survivors, family, neighbours and his friends restored his hope of beating the disease.
He then took the results positively and started on medication, including taking various concoctions, but the fear of death did not go away.
On the fourth day of his treatment, Kambaho lost his energy and got severe ulcers due to the strong concoctions he was taking. He started vomiting, something that intensified the fear of death. He decided to visit Entebbe Grade B Hospital for further management by medical experts.
“When I started vomiting, I knew I was not going to manage this at home. I went to Entebbe hospital. However, when I reached there, I saw funeral service vans ferrying dead bodies from the mortuary! I was afraid to enter the hospital.
I thought I was also going to die from there so I left. When I got home, I embarked on a plan to take my medication from home and I succeeded,” he says.
Because he had the responsibility to protect his aged parents, relatives and his children from contracting the disease, he decided to isolate himself in one bedroom and ensure washing of hands and wearing masks by other household members was compulsory.
Kambaho says his wife did not leave his side and shifted all her attention from her children to him for two weeks and this did wonders for him.
He thanks God for his wife did not contract the disease despite being very close to him. She often had her face mask on.
“My wife stayed close to me in the same bedroom. She slept on the floor for two days but it was difficult for me to call her to give me hot tea, change my pillow, and hold me as I coughed hard. Her closeness to me day and night did wonders to my healing. This she did for two weeks,” Kambaho recalls.
The couple ensured the rest of the family observed the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the house.
“Some of my children and the adults would get flu and cough and, therefore, we would give them concoctions and some of the drugs we had stocked like Panadol. My children would put on their face masks all the time whenever in my vicinity,” he says.
Kambaho says he was told to use Ivermectin and Dexamethasone tablets, aspirin and Ascoril syrup.
“One treatment I used was from my nephew Kiiza. The drugs and prescription by Dr Kakame also worked well. The prescription by Dr Peter Lutaaya of Kampala Hospital helped a lot. The practical dos and don’ts shared by friends helped too. My friends who are health professionals helped. The calls and prayers from my parents and local catechist in Rukungiri played a great role,” Kambaho shares what enabled him to get better.
Kambaho got negative results on June 22, and he couldn’t wait for life to go back to normal. On June 27, he called barber and told him he wanted to shave his beard.
“I went to the salon with a disposable mask to give to the barber as advised by a friend. I told the barber that I had just recovered from Covid-19. The barber was both shocked and terrified, at least according to his facial expression. He said I was the first person to tell him that I had recovered from Covid-19,” he recalls.
Kambaho says many people do not want to reveal their status for fear of stigma.
“I have discovered that some of my associates had fallen sick before me and they kept quiet. My neighbour got sick in May but I only discovered when I called to tell him I had Covid-19. We should focus on counselling of Covid-19 patients and caregivers,” he says.
Kambaho urges people to wear their face masks properly.
“Before I fell sick, I would put on a mask as a necklace or sometimes carry it alongside my car keys and diary during working hours. I would sometimes sanitise one hand while the other is holding it like a folder, at work and supermarkets. Washing hands was an inconvenience because of having wet hands after. I was not really observing social distancing at ATM points and supermarkets. But now, I am the chief observer of all the above,” he says.
Mr Kambaho advises those who have not contracted the disease to boost their immunity and follow the SOPs.
“Those still safe from the disease, please do follow SOPs religiously. Secondly, boost your immunity by eating right and well, exercise to be fit, sunbathe, and use concoctions of lemon, ginger, mint, and kisubi tea. Be aware that some Covid-19 positive patients do not show signs. Others keep working normally while on treatment. So it is hard to know who is sick and who is not. You need to have the attitude that the only person whose Covid status you know is yourself,” he says.
Advice to the sick
Meanwhile, Kambaho advises those suffering from Covid-19 to remain calm.
“Be positive and optimistic. Many people have contracted the disease and healed from home and hospital. Take note of your medical history as you undergo treatment. When I developed ulcers, I stopped using ginger and lemon. This helped,” he shares.
Kambaho learnt that his personal health is the only great resource to protect and guard jealously.
“When I got Covid-19, my first step was to get treatment no matter the cost anywhere,” he says.
He also advises that in all the struggles, family should come first.
“The spouse and children are a primary source of inspiration in times of joy and even in times of sickness. When I fell sick, my daughter, Peaceful Kwebaza often told me ‘dad, I love you.’ These words were magical,” he says, adding that friends and relatives are a critical beacon of hope and provide a strong sense of belonging.