Beating Covid: Stigma was tougher than self-isolation

John Ivan Kisekka, who healed from Covid-19 PHOTO/JOHN KABENGWA

What you need to know:

  • John Ivan Kisekka, a digital marketer, recently recovered from Covid-19 but a few days after returning to the community, he faced stigma. He tells Daily Monitor his story.

“During my sickness, I was never stigmatised. The only time I faced stigma was after healing. People still avoided me like I was contagious. It is such a terrible feeling you don’t want to go through.

I am one of those people that doesn’t remove their face mask. I had read intensively about the virus and when I got the symptoms, I didn’t waste a minute. I went for a test which came out positive. I tested at Case Clinic Buganda Road on May 23, 2021.

I was very sad that even with all the precaution I took, the virus somehow got to me.
Before I contracted the disease, I used to do lots of my employment assignments from home, but sometimes I had to go to town to get a few things. 

I think, that’s probably where I got the virus because many people were not observing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in town. This deemed us who were compliant vulnerable.

Symptoms set in
At first, I had body pains, lost smell and taste. I now knew things had got bad. 
That level when one loses taste, I had been told by friends, is worrisome, and I experienced it. It gives you a feeling like a part of you has started to die – it’s a half death thing.

After I got the test results, I went back home but the hardest moment came when the people I stayed with had to leave for their own safety.

I felt deserted but I was satisfied this was necessary in order to take the precautions. Even the people that wanted to see me couldn’t, and sometimes dropped what they had brought me on the veranda. Communication was limited to phone calls and messaging service.

I embarked on the treatment the medical team prescribed for me, which included Ivermectin, Prednisolone, Azithromycin and Brozedex, among others. I got my prescription from a pharmacy. My family had also sent me herbs for steaming but I only steamed when I couldn’t breathe well for only a few minutes. The herbs for steaming included mango, neem tree, and jambula leaves, as well as mvule tree cuttings. 

Different family members and friends kept calling me to see how I was doing. They also advised me on the different local concoctions that I should try like a small piece of ginger blended with garlic and oranges.

I was lucky that immediately I felt I was infected, I run to hospital to test and then self-isolated. I faced no stigma. The only time I faced stigma was after healing. People still avoided me like I was contagious. So many people are skeptical about going for medical checks. This is calamitous. Go check and if you have the virus, start treatment early and stick to the advice of professional doctors. 

Almost everyone will give you advice on what to do, but some of these might bring you other diseases such as ulcers. 

Contracting Covid-19 even after observing all SOPs taught me that no matter how careful one is, if the people you associate with are not, you are likely to get the disease.  A Covid-19 free Uganda can only be achieved as a collective effort because the reckless actions of one person renders all others at risk.

My encouragement to Covid-19 patients is that they should be positive and believe that they can recover.