Is This It?

By Moseka Phiona

My chest was hurting with every cough that I coughed, my temperature was so high you could boil water with my body heat. Out of breathe and struggling to breath each passing second.

Was this it? Was I getting to my end time?

I had never been this scared my entire life. This was the time I realized my will to live was stronger than death.

The night was so long, longer than it should have been. I needed to get to the hospital as soon as I could because with every passing minute I felt weaker and weaker and I did not know if I could make it. I felt hot and cold at the same time while sweat ran down my entire body. My temperature was probably as high as 40c. I felt so cold yet each time I covered my body with a blanket I felt hot in a matter of seconds.

As soon as the first cock crowed, I got up, packed a bag and headed to the hospital. My mind wandered about what was wrong with me. The road was not as dusty that morning, the dew drops on the grass caused cold shivers as they brushed past my legs.

Could it be malaria? Or typhoid?

Was I going to get admitted?

On reaching the hospital, I got nervous. There were a lot of people waiting to get tested or treated and attended to. The air felt so hot, sweat dripped all over my face and I was short of breathe like I had run a marathon. After a while I did the necessary tests and before I could get my results, I saw nurses all covered up with masks and gloves rushing my way.

Is someone badly off? Did someone get into an accident and the nurses are rushing to them?

Before I knew it, I was asked to wear a mask and hurriedly escorted to another room down the hospital without any explanation.

“What is happening?” I kept asking, but no one responded.

I could see the fear in their eyes. None of the nurses came close to me even when they were all geared up. That’s when I knew something was terribly wrong.

I lost my sense of smell and taste. I realized that when the room I was put in kept getting sanitized but I couldn’t smell the sanitizer. Nor could I taste the juice that I had packed with me. I was scared.

“Stay in here please, do not go anywhere. Everything you need will be brought to you in this room and you are expected not to make any physical contact with anyone. Okay?” Said one nurse.

“Yes ma’am.” I responded as I broke into tears. Everything was happening so fast and I did not know exactly what was even going on.

“The doctor will come and speak to you soon,” she said one last time and they all left the room. I could hear the door being locked from outside.

I had never felt so alone in my life. I was enclosed in the four walls of the room, there was no detail to it, just light blue walls with dirty hand marks around the one wooden window with dents on the cemented floor. All I could do was cry and pray.

Eventually I gave into the migraines and fatigue, and I slept.

The following days were dreadful. It felt like my lungs were collapsing, I was too sick and nobody could stay around me.

I learnt the hours by heart.

6am: the doctor comes in for ten minutes.

8am: a nurse passes my breakfast through the window because she is too scared I might infect her.

2pm: the same nurse passes my lunch through the window.

5pm: the doctor comes in again to check my temperature and give me some medications.

9pm: I get my supper sent in through the window.

The cycle continues to the next day and so on.

Being left alone for hours with just my thoughts took a toll on my mental health. I was depressed and had anxiety attacks each time I googled about COVID Was this it? Was I going to die?

It felt harder to live with these questions than to die from an answer.

16 August, 2023