Beating Covid: Pounded onions, medication helped Lakot fight Covid-19

 Lt Col Susan Lakot Oruni after recovering from Covid-19. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The  former Member of Parliament representing UPDF in the 9th and 10th Parliament, Lakot says her symptoms started with a headache and flu upon evacuating her children from school.

In the series Beating Covid, we trace victims who caught the coronavirus and overcame it. Lt Col Susan Lakot Oruni  and her son  steamed, used  pounded onions and   medication to beat the virus.  Lt  Col Lakot tells Daily Monitor’s Polycarp Kalokwera  that although home-based care is the simplest it is  the most complicated option for treating Covid-19.

“A real fighter should always look dignified and calm, and should believe that any expression of aggression is an expression of weakness.” 
This is what Lt Col Susan Lakot Oruni says when we meet to talk about her experience with Covid-19 on June 27.

Lt Col Lakot says she anticipated a lockdown when there was an announcement in June that the President had planned to address the nation about the second wave of the pandemic.

“I rushed from Pader to Kampala on June 6, to pick my children from school. I managed to send them to Pader where I knew they would be safe from coming into contact with many people,” Lakot says.

A former Member of Parliament representing Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in the ninth and 10th Parliament, Lakot says  her symptoms started with a headache and flu upon evacuating her children from various schools in Kampala.

“One of my children, studying at Makerere University, was the only child I was waiting for before I could send all of them out of Kampala. However, he delayed to return so I sent the young ones to the village in Pader. Soon after he got home, I would hear my son coughing on the second floor of the house in which we were staying,” Lakot says. 

“I first heard him cough as well as clear his throat and I thought he was choking on food but it became so frequent. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me he had a headache, cough and a runny nose. This was when I knew there was a problem; because he is young, maybe he thought he would fight it easily,” Lakot says. 

She says they spent two more days before they could go for testing. 
“I was supposed to get the second  Covid-19 jab on Thursday but I didn’t make it. I also failed to make it on Friday. It was on Saturday that I started feeling unwell.”

“I had heard of people in critical condition failing to access ICU [intensive care  unit] services and dying so I didn’t want to experience it. On Monday morning, I ordered my son to dress up and we rushed to test for Covid-19 because we now had the symptoms,” the 52-year-old reveals.

When the results returned as positive for both of them,  Lakot says thoughts started to run through her mind, worsening her sugar levels and raising her blood pressure.

“I was worried about my children who had been sent to the village before testing and the driver who was with me  and also drove them,” Lakot says.
She asked the district health inspector to have all her children tested to ensure that they were safe but also importantly to have them isolated for 14 days for the safety of the community.

“Worrying about my children when I was already confirmed positive would not help, so I called home and instructed that all the children who returned from Kampala be tested and isolated for 14 days to monitor the incubation period of the virus,” she says. Luckily the results were negative.

“When the results turned out negative for these children, I knew the battle was now to save myself and that of my boy so we isolated at home. I also suspected that I could have gotten infected through him since everyone else I had been with earlier was negative. I then sought for medical support,” Lakot says.

Home-based care
She says she called the military medical personnel who were responding to Covid-19 patients at Bombo Military Barracks who prescribed drugs for her to use for the home based treatment.

“Dr Jennifer Alanyo prescribed for us Zinc, Vitamin C, Panadol, and Oral Azithromycin for five days and instructed us to stay indoors throughout our treatment,” Lakot recalls. 

After getting the medication, she carried cooking utensils and food and isolated herself upstairs.
“For the first three days after testing positive, I was stable. I confined myself to the upper floor so that nobody could access me, while my son stayed on the bottom floor. So he would come up when food was ready and serve himself,” Lakot narrates.

However, things took a turn on the fourth day and she had to call for help from her brother who quickly responded.
“My breathing had changed and I didn’t have energy to get up and cook, so I called my brother to my rescue and he came quickly with juice and food,” she says.

For the days that her brother brought food for them, he would find  when they had put plates on the floor instead of handing over  the food to her directly.
“It was very risky for him to access us but he would still risk and bring us food until I gained the energy to start cooking again,” she says.

Breathing difficulty
Besides the medication prescribed by the doctor, Lakot would steam.
“I steamed a lot using Ase Oil and hot water; at least after every four hours. I would also pound a fresh onion and put it in a sock and press it on my chest when the chest pain was so much,” she says. 

“I believe the inhalation helped me a lot. I would also use garlic, ginger and lemon. I would cook and steam with it, as well as drink it. Every time I did, I felt better. There are times I felt like I was suffocating, but when I steamed, and sneezed, I was able to breathe better,” Lakot recalls.
After three days of steaming and using pounded fresh onions, I started feeling better and when I spoke to my son, he said he was doing fine already. That is when I knew we weren’t dying,” she asserts.

Lakot would also exercise in her room to gain energy, something she says helped improve her health faster than she anticipated.
“Because I am 52, I was scared since they say that is a dangerous age with this illness, but having stayed stable for three more days after exercising and gaining energy, I decided we should take the test again to confirm our status. When we tested, the results were negative, however I was told we should take test again after two days. We did and it still came out as negative,” she says.

From her experience, Lakot says home-based care is the simplest yet most complicated option for treating Covid-19 patients because while the rules and routine are simple, one can easily die if there is no one to come to their aid when things get tough.

“There was a moment I thought I would die when my breathing condition changed so terribly; I had to lay low and wait to gain some energy to call for help,” she says.

According to Lakot, “Home-based care is very hard for a person who doesn’t understand basic first-aid or medicine. Worse still, many of our people are poor and can’t afford the discipline of home based care that is why you hear some are moving freely and ending up spreading the virus to more people.”

Early testing
Lt Col Lakot advises that people should embrace early testing to allow for easy management of Covid-19, adding that the healthcare system cannot handle an influx of people; so, home-based care helps relieve the system.

“When you test early, there are chances that the condition may be mild and that is easy to manage from home but unfortunately people tend to hide until they are badly off; that is when they run to test in the hospital,” she says. 

About the virus

According to the World Health Organisation, most people infected with the Covid-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.

Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. Some of the symptoms include fever, dry cough, tiredness, aches and pains,sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headache  and loss of taste or smell.



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