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Why my Covid status is an ice breaker in conversations

By Harriet James
Friday, September 18th, 2020
Ogutu Okudo, founder and CEO of Women in Energy and Extractives Africa.
In summary
    • Stay home:  Most people with Covid-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care.
    • Monitor your symptoms.Signs of Covid-19 include fever, cough, or other symptoms.
    • Avoid sharing personal household items.  Do not share dishes,  drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils,  towels  or bedding with other people in your home.
    • - Source CDC

 I am Ogutu Okudo, founder and CEO  of Women in Energy and Extractives Africa, a non-profit organisation working to bridge gender gap in oil, gas, mining, alternative energy sources and nuclear energy industry  in sub-Sahara Africa.

 I caught coronavirus on June 22 this year and the news brought shockwaves to my system.

I remember that week like it was yesterday. It was on a Monday, a friend of mine told me that four people in her office had tested positive and as a precautionary measure they were all going to get tested.

My friend tested negative but this experience rattled me.

 I was just fine, but then I started losing my sense of taste one night. I couldn’t taste the chicken that I had for dinner. 

I also realised the following morning that I couldn’t smell my perfume as I prepared to go to work. 

This made me anxious and I headed to the hospital to be checked. The results came in the following day in the evening and I tested positive for the virus.  

The only major symptom I had was loss of smell and did not experience any fever or coughing.

I had to do meditation exercises just to remain calm as the news of testing positive petrified me. The toil on your mental health is unmentionable.

Positive mind-set

Strangely, the more information we get about the virus, the scarier it gets as initially we only thought that it was old people but now even younger people are getting and losing their lives.

You also don’t know whether you have an underlying condition that might trigger serious symptoms.

I had to make sure that I had a positive mind-set and that is what assisted me get through the dark times.

 It was a long journey, but I recovered.  My perception of life has completely changed. I feel like I have been given a second chance.

Not that my symptoms were bad, as mine was just the loss of smell and taste but going through it is heavy.

It has taught me to live my life and do it on my own terms. It’s made me stronger, more ambitious and believe in my capability and ability to go through trials and tribulations. 

One of the things that people don’t talk about is the stigma.

When I recovered healed I was categorical about wanting to talk about it and break the stigma and that’s why I documented it on social media last week. 

People were grateful that I came out and shared my experience and I even have friends who have contacted me letting me know that they had it too and that my story gave them power to speak about their experience. 

Mentioning that I had Covid has been my icebreaker when I meet people. Some believe it and others don’t. 

Some people will ask if am okay and whether it’s safe to meet and I would say its okay because right now I have the antibodies.

So I think people should be educated on it because so many people are peddling rumours about the disease.

When we have a society peddling such negativity instead of facts, we veer away from the truth, positivity and opportunity for people to learn and crush the virus. I am taking more precautions, and adjusting my life to this new normal. 

Covid has just disrupted everything. The unpredictability of it all reminds us that we as humans can’t be in control of everything and that we have to let go of that control.

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