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A Zimbabwean's story Coronavirus: What's it like to be treated for COVID-19 in A FOREIGN LAND

29 Mar 2020 at 08:33hrs | Views
Dr Masimba Mavaza
A Zimbabwean man who was rushed into intensive care after contracting COVID-19 has opened up on how his ordeal began when he started feeling the funny symptoms which turned into a collapsed lung.

Tapuwa Mataranyika is a medical doctor in South Wales. He lives in a town where his hospital is located.
On this day he has visited London together with his wife. He left his twelve year old son with a maid in Wales. Their human plan was to come back home in Wales in two days.

They drove straight to Watford where they had meant to visit a close friend who was bereaved his wife had passed on due to a short illness. Despite the warnings not to travel Tapuwa as a doctor believed he had taken maximum precautions. After all this was his friend and he can not bear the thought that his friend can go through this pain alone. What can you do in these circumstances. No virus can make him change his culture. Ubuntu hunhu demanded that you mourn with those who mourn. After all I will be in my car and just get out when I reach my destination. Tapuwa believed that Corona has been highly overrated and it is not that bad.

On arrival in Watford the house was not very full. So Tapuwa was right after all. He care fully greeted people from a distance. There was no shaking of hands no hugging so he kept the social distance and indeed he was very safe at least his mind assured him. There is always an assuring mind which seems to be stronger than the fear around you.

As his culture you are not allowed to refuse to eat when you are served with drinks or food at the funeral. So Tapuwa received a glass of sugar free orange drink. He recalled gulping a size full amount of the juice. Then he felt an urge to cough. The itchy chest forced you to cough even there is food in your mouth. Tapuwa saw the drops of the juice gashing from his mouth sprinkling the mourners. It was like a rain's drop anointing the saints.

Tapuwa tried to say something and he started to choke. He gasped for air and he slummed down on the floor like a bundle of used clothes.

In the confusion people forgot the social distance and surrounded him some administering the usual choking procedures.  

Tapuwa's friend  called 999 after he "literately couldn't get off the floor and was struggling to sit upright.
Once in hospital, doctors found one of his lungs had collapsed and the other one struggling to cope. The doctor's told friends and those who had accompanied him to go back home and exercise self quarantine.
Tapuwa was on his own, because family could not enter his room, and struggling to understand what medics were saying because they were wearing hazmat suits and speaking through masks.

The deepest breath he could take was a "really strong sniff" and "nothing would inflate".
Those around him in ITU were not 80 or 90-year-olds, he said. "These were young kids - there were people the same age as me. and some much younger.

Tapuwa initially thought he had a cold or flu or just an aftermath of choking rather than COVID-19.
The young medical doctor first noticed symptoms long before the drink. Through out the journey from Wales he felt this urge to cough. He quickly dismissed it as a result of the air con. But after the sip it turned to a "bad dry cough" and a "bit of a headache".

He realised it was more serious after his heart rate and oxygen saturation were measured- which should have been at least 96% his was down to 80%.

By the time he was admitted to hospital he had a "real hacking cough to the point where you wanted to be sick".

Within a short time Tapuwa lost all sense of taste or smell.
He developed a really bad temperature which was definitely the worst ever felt.
After his friends and his wife were sent away from the hospital he was taken to an isolation room and "two guys came in dressed in hazmat suits with a ventilator pack on the back,took swabs straight away" and "just became increasingly concerned".

It was like something out of a movie. You've got no family with you, you don't know what's going on, no one can explain to you, and you can't hear people properly because they're talking through masks.
"It is a very, very terrifying time. No one can wish even his enemy to go through this predicament.

Once in intensive care he was "hooked up to every machine" and could hear "every alarm and bell going off".
His lung had collapsed and was failing, his other lung was getting overwhelmed.and with everything that was going on he was put on a ventilator."

But a ventilator is for support rather than treatment. It will sustain your suffering. that is the most terrifying part. There's no real treatment for [COVID-19], there's no medication. You are in hospital just to manage your misery.

"You're expecting them to put a nice IV in and [give you] a drug to make everything better."
In the end,Tapuwa was not put on a ventilator, but had oxygen forced into him via a nasal cannula while doctors checked his stats "from a distance".

There was a man opposite him whose family could not come to see him just like everybody in the ward. The guy needed his family but the virus had put its rules. No one could oppose it. Sadly the guy lasted probably two to three hours and didn't make it. There were over ten people who came in with the hope to survive and were wheeled out straight to the morgue.

Tapuwa was terrified death was real and just a second away. But the pain you go through only to die after wards is not worthy it.

When he started to get better he could "feel everything switching back on".
The nurses were "absolutely fantastic" and taught him "how to breathe again. He was like a new born baby.
You would always want to go home meet your family and thank God for your second chance. But not this time. Tapuwa was told to self quarantine after discharge. His family was diagnosed positive. So was half of the people who were with him at the funeral.

A very heavy sense of guilty hoovered on top of Tapuwa how many people have I put at risk because I just wanted to be culturally correct.

How does it feel to know that people have died because of your carelessness.
Tapuwa looked up with tears writing two straight lines on his checks.
Corona virus is real. You stay home for your safety.

Remember you are not stuck at home but you are safe at home. You need a change of attitude. If you know that staying at home saves lives. The whole community can be wiped out because you are stubborn.  Culture changes and changes but your life is more important than culture. Remember there are people who depend on you.
Tapuwa survived Corona but there is no guarantee that you will. Please stay at home and be safe. If Tapuwa had died can you imagine what was going to happen to his son his wife.

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
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