Elijah Iradukunda, the Kampala Capital City Authority senior prosecution offi cer, discovered that he had been infected with Covid-19 last year.
It was in early November 2020 when he felt weak and went to IMC hospital in Kireka, Kiira Municipality, in Wakiso District where he underwent a medical examination. He was then given some drugs to help him feel better. However, days later, the situation worsened and so he decided to change hospitals. He then went to God’s Mercy Clinic in Kirinya, which is in the same locality.
“At God’s Mercy Clinic, they checked and found out that my pressure was high. I had malaria and my oxygen levels were low. I was then admitted for two days and was put on drip. Later I asked the doctor to refer me to Nsambya Hospital,” he says.
When Mr Iradukunda got to Nsambya Hospital, which was in early December, he was taken to the outpatient room from where he was referred to the laboratory. Many tests were done, including those for infections, malaria and typhoid, and also checking the general functionality of the internal body organs.
“On the same day in the evening, I went back to the doctor who told me that I didn’t have any disease they had tested for, but he suspected that I could be having Covid-19. The doctor interviewed me, asking details about how I was feeling,” he says.
“He realised that I had all the symptoms of a Covid-19 patient. My oxygen level was below 90 per cent. The doctor told me that at that level, I should not have been walking. So he decided to put me on a wheel chair and pushed me to the X-ray where a CT scan was done and they confirmed that it was Covid-19,” Mr Iradukunda adds.
At that time, he says Nsambya Hospital was not admitting Covid-19 patients but because he was in a very critical condition, they agreed to admit him and start him on treatment. Mr Iradukunda was taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) in their isolation ward where he spent seven days before he was discharged and advised to take treatment from home. He shares details of his experience in the question-answer method below:
How did you feel when you got the test results?
By the time I got the test results, I was already down. When I was taken to Nsambya Hospital, I thought I had other problems. My suspicion was that I had heart problems or maybe serious malaria because I was badly off.
I could hardly breathe, so when I was told by the doctors that I had Covid-19, I got very scared because of what I had heard about it. I thought my life was going to end.
Where do you think you might have got infected from?
My suspicion is from work. It could have been from court because sometimes we had many people at court, but also, around that time I was given an assignment to join other team members to go to the market to do some work with the market administration. One day, we went to the market and when it rained, people’s masks went off . I think at one point, mine also went off ; I suspect that could be the place where I got it from.
What were the symptoms that you experienced?
The early symptoms that I experienced were fever, fl u, joint pains, loss of appetite and at a certain point, I would vomit. I lost the sense of smell, had a persistent headache and loss of sleep at night. Then as it developed, I got complications with breathing as the last symptom before I was hospitalised.
What were some of the difficult moments that you experienced during the time of illness?
I will say two things; one is the day I woke up and I couldn’t move myself to the sitting room because of the pain and the diffi culty in breathing. I felt like collapsing every time I would stand. Another is when I was in Nsambya Hospital and I saw a patient, who was my neighbour, dying. I also dreamt about death that night, I got extremely tired.
What kind of treatment did you use for your symptoms?
I would take lemon and tea. I took a lot of medication before, which was for a wrong disease, in my opinion. What I think worked most was the time I spent in Nsambya Hospital because the doctors gave me very good care and treatment. Friends and family members also prayed for me. I think that’s what helped me.
What kind of support did you get from family, friends that helped you in recovery?
One thing I thank God for is that when I was in Nsambya, the nurses around me allowed my visitors to come and check on me, so I would see people every day although from a distance. They would come to check on me and that made me remain strong and positive.
My wife kept around me even when I was in isolation. That also helped me know that people were around me and they would come to my rescue in case I needed anything. My friends sent me messages of encouragement and my wife would relay them to me so that made me morally strong.
Did you face any stigma during the illness or after?
Yes. Some would call me and say, ‘I would want to see you but because you have Covid-19…,’ so that made me feel isolated and stigmatised. Even my friends at church could not come near me, saying that unless the doctor told them I was fine, they would not get close to me.
What’s your advice to those who have got it and those still ill from it?
People need to be positive. They need to be strong spiritually or morally. Know that this is a disease like any another and you can battle it. I believe that the times I was badly off were the times I was scared. And then the times I was strong, I saw healing taking place quickly. Therefore, I advise people who are still ill to be strong because Covid-19 is very painful, but even in the pain, people need to know that you can be healed. I also advise those who are still ill to always obey what the doctors tell them such as moving around and keeping isolated such that you don’t infect others.
What could be your biggest lesson or take away from this experience?
I think I learnt that life is too short, it can end any time. The time I was in Nsambya, I thought that I would die. It’s better for us to keep on good terms with God because death can come any time. Also keep on good terms with family relatives such that when such crises come, they can stand with you.