How I Survived 18-day Isolation - Nurse Narrates

  • Nurses at the KNH IDU Unit based at Mbagathi participating in a Zumba class on 28th May 2020.
    Nurses at the KNH IDU-Unit based at Mbagathi participating in a Zumba class on 28th May 2020.
  • It started like any other fever. After working as a nurse over the last 17 years, I was conscious enough to know it could just be a normal fever. But these aren't exactly normal times now, are they?

    I still remember our first Covid-19 briefing. Long before the first case was reported on March 13, we (health workers) had enough information to know that things were about to change, drastically.

    First thing I did was to take my 3-year-old daughter to my mum's place in Kitengela. I knew I was about to work some crazy hours, and combining that with being a single dad just didn't seem like a wise move.

    The hardest part was not being able to tell my folks what was coming. We live by a code of ethics and spreading news that could spark panic is a no no. Luckily, my parents live within Nairobi so I could still get to see Lisa (my buck-toothed 3-year-old) whenever I got the chance, or so I thought.

    Anyway I said my goodbyes, trying my best to maintain my best Rambo impression. I felt like my insides were getting shredded to pieces but I had to be strong for Lisa.

    The first thing I did when I got back to my 2-bedroom flat in Kahawa Wendani, was to transfer some cash via my Co-op Bank app. I left in such a hurry on Rambo-mode, I actually forgot to leave kitu kidogo for upkeep.

    Ok, back to my fever. It was four or so months since the first case was reported. To say things were getting tougher would be an understatement. My days were literally all-work. Case after case after case. Some so young, you couldn't help but empathise despite all the training.

    On this particular day, my colleague, Tracy, noticed I was a bit sluggish. Before I knew it, my crocs started to weigh me down as I started experiencing fatigue. She alerted the chief (that's what we called our head practitioner) and I was quickly placed in isolation.

    A medical practitioner dressed in protective gear at Coronavirus isolation and treatment facility in Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday, March 6, 2020.
    A medical practitioner dressed in protective gear at the Coronavirus isolation and treatment facility in Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday, March 6, 2020.
    Simon Kiragu

    Soon after, I was taken through the very same process I had been practicing on hundreds of patients. 24 hrs later, I was feeling much better but sadly, the test results said otherwise. I had it.

    Based on my renewed energy, I was allowed to recover from home, as long as I agreed to have one of my colleagues be tasked with checking up on me every day.

    This seemed like a reasonable compromise and so I embarked on my self-isolation journey. Things you usually take for granted like a simple walk into a supermarket suddenly take a whole new level of significance.

    Luckily, the newly launched Co-op online banking platform offered me quite literally anything I needed. I didn't even know you could get Naivas discounts and deliveries at your doorstep till I got sick. There's truly a silver lining on every cloud.

    The highlights of my day were my late night video chats with Lisa and Tracy's daily visits. This went on for 18 days but in my head, it felt like 7 years plus change.

    When I was finally declared Covid-free, the speed at which I got from Kahawa to my folks' place in Kitengela must have broken some record.

    I was allowed to take some time off to get my head straight before jumping back in the fight. The number of recoveries are encouraging but the war is far from over. It's time to get back to the frontlines.

    Tracy just called to ask how she could sign up for Co-op online banking. I guess that Naivas discount is just too good to pass up. Need to turn this into a whole conversation that would warrant a date. Wish me luck.