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I kept in touch with my kids on Zoom while in isolation

By Harriet James
Sunday, August 9th, 2020
Dr Amakove Wala. PD/COURTESY
In summary
    • Dr Amakove Wala tested positive for Covid-19 on July 22.
    • She opted for home-based care and went into isolation for 12 days when her symptoms dissappeared.
    • She is thankful to her caregiver who nursed her, endured stigma  and further took care of her children.

Not even being locked down in her bedroom after she tested positive for Covid-19 would stop Dr Amakove Wala from interacting with her children. She shares with us her journey as well as breaking stigma 

Harriet James @harriet86jim

When Dr Amakove Wala, a health expert, began experiencing chills and fever, she attributed it to fatigue and stress she had been going through having lost a close friend and colleague Dr Adisa Lugaliki, to Covid-19.

So, she slept, hoping to feel better, but when she woke up the following morning, nothing had changed. 

“I remember being in a meeting and at around 11am, I couldn’t concentrate and had to leave. I took some painkillers, slept but never got better.

It was only when I received a phone call from a friend whom I had come into contact with and had tested positive for Covid-19 that I knew things were serious and I had to get tested,” narrates Dr Wala. 

Two days later on July 22 this year, Dr Wala tested positive for Covid-19. She opted for home-based care because she had mild symptoms. 

However, one thing that she was worried about was the well-being of her four children; her son aged 12, and her triplets who are 10 years.

She was also worried about the impact that this news would have to those around her. 

“When I broke the news to my children, they were scared that I was going to die.

I reassured them that I had mild symptoms and emphasised the need for isolation,” she narrates. 

The first day of isolation was tough on her since on a normal day, every night before her children go to sleep, they would hang out in her bed, discussing the day’s events.

Now with her having Covid-19 and being locked-up in her bedroom, Dr Wala had to take their pre bedtime ritual to Zoom.

Being a close-knit family that  love close contact, this has been one of the toughest moments for her. 

“The time I catch-up with my children is one of my special moments. I assure them of  their safety and mine, and every day we talk about their feelings.

I update them on my progress and emphasise on the small wins,” she adds.

Another bonding activity that she misses is cycling and watching movies with them. 

However, since her children are older and independent, Dr Wala doesn’t worry much about them taking care of themselves.

In addition, she has an able nanny who attends to her and stills run the house. 

First, her meals are served at the door and her house manager knocks to alert her.

Once Dr Wala is done, her house manager, picks the utensils, while wearing protective clothes and washes them separately.

Her meals comprise a lot of fruits and home-made concoctions that have ginger, lemon and honey.

She also supplements on Zinc and Vitamin C and takes antibiotics and when in pain, painkillers.

Her laundry too is done separately. Luckily, the mother of four has a washing machine, which makes work easier for her house manager as she uses gloves to throw them in the machine. 

Supportive family, friends

“You become a pariah to society. You can’t even interact closely with your own family members.

Your personal items are treated with the highest level of sanitation. Everything is disinfected.

Man, this is tough and I think not practical for many families that are not able to afford this level of isolation,” she narrates. 

Despite the loneliness, Dr Wala is thankful for having supportive family and friends who send her a lot of tips on how to beat the loneliness, what to eat and drink, how to keep fit and also check on her children as she isolates.

In addition, she also has a smaller circle of friends who are also on a home-based-care regime and they exchange notes every now and then on what to do. But one thing that she has had to minimise is her social media use. 

Coming out

 “I was getting burn-out. There is an information overload if one doesn’t watch out. Many people intend well, but I got bogged down by the many forwards on recipes and prayer chains.

I like a certain group I am in, which they appointed one person to be checking on me twice a day and report back to the group.

That really assisted me to answer the many questions from concerned friends and family. I also have a close friend who insisted on being there throughout,” she says.

But one thing Dr Wala  says is she has been able to get her much-needed rest.

Her days have been spent eating, drinking, sleeping, basking in the sun, reading, doing exercises such as yoga and watching movies. 

On why she opted to share her daily experiences on her Facebook Page, Dr Wala says: “I was more worried about the impact to those around me rather than myself.

I am used to blogging about my life, especially topics that society is reluctant to discuss such as relationships, sex and parenting among others.

As a public health practitioner, I know the angle that the response we have had has taken a punitive approach to the virus.

It is almost a crime to get  Covid-19. What many ask is, what did you do wrong to get this virus? This has made many of us shy away from declaring our positive status.

I felt I needed to speak up and demystify the disease. The benefits far outweighed the cons,” she says. 

Dr Wala came out of isolation on Monday this week on her 12th day. “I am glad to see that the guidelines are being shortened to reduce the isolation period to when symptoms disappear and not necessarily when the test turns negative.

Covid-19 is real and common now. Luckily many of us will get the mild symptoms. It is important to continue practicing the guidelines laid down for us to flatten the curve.

Above all, let us break the stigma! Stop criminalising the disease,” she says in conclusion. 

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