It happened, the dreaded COVID-19 scare hit our home this morning and we have had to take the steps to get tested to be sure if we are infected. This is a diary on the experience.
South Africa (23 June 2020) – We all dread the moment we might get the call regarding a potential COVID-19 exposure. As the virus is ramping up its presence in South Africa, it is only natural that more people are being exposed.
For someone who is always in fear of falling ill, it has been quite a calm experience in terms of getting the news. We think the exposure came from my domestic helper as she has been showing symptoms. Her serious symptoms started over the weekend. I too had symptoms but thought it was typical Gauteng winter dehydration; just a mild constant headache. But then by this week a sore body and swollen glands became a concern. Here and there I had bouts of chills but no raging fever. This morning she messaged to inform us she was going to be tested as she has shortness of breath and constant coughing.
Many readers have asked for details when we share COVID-19 stories, and here it is in its purest form, straight from the journalists masked mouth! This is a detailed account of the experience — day to day activities, testing process and the lot. You can get a daily update here on Good Things Guy, so stay tuned.
I would like to quickly disclaim that I am very aware of how my experience with COVID-19 will differ from my domestic helpers. This post will highlight the privilege that many middle and upper-class South Africans have. I hope that many who read this will remember that while my experience has been scary, my domestic’s has been worse. I got to consult my doctor at home; she had to brave a paranoid public to get to the clinic wherewith a cough and struggling to breathe, she sits and waits to be seen.
While COVID-19 is inevitable and not the fault of anyone, it is still stigmatised.
Trying to get a virtual consult for COVID-19 diagnosis.
What an actual nightmare! As a Discovery Medical Aid member, I was instructed to make use of the two apps to link up with my doctor on a virtual consultation. Before this could be done, a general COVID-19 assessment was done using the website.
It wanted details of symptoms which you select from a list provided, and then you answer yes and no questions relating to exposure and travel. Mine came back as a risk of COVID-19 infection.
This then directs you to contact your doctor for a virtual consultation. BUT what a headache!
The app directs you to an online area where you select your doctor, but my doctor wasn’t showing up. It took over an hour to even remotely understand how the system works. Eventually, I was able to have a consultation with my doctor, and we assessed that I do run the risk of infection and should get tested.
She then sent me the paperwork for the lab test which I filled in.
It was then time to head to Sandton Mediclinic, which is where the testing is being done. Side note: As I was using the Lancet Lab, we were redirected there, but I will explain that more below.
The Doctor’s Advice
My doctor feels confident that I will be fine, with mild symptoms, the only thing to do is isolate and minimise the risk for my partner’s exposure.
My doctor advised the results will take between one and three days depending on the backlog. She also advised that I should count Saturday as my day one and that symptoms may become worse as we hit day five of infection (that is if I am COVID-19 positive).
We now wait for the results and focus on symptom management. She has said I can continue to take Panado as I need and should my symptoms need anything more substantial, to call. Thankfully, for now, I feel fine enough to use what we have at home.
She also recommended staying hydrated and upping our vitamin C intake. I will personally be adding zinc and moringa to my routine just to help as much as possible.
What happens when you get tested?
It is recommended that you get a doctor’s referral before heading to the labs. Once I had my Lancet Laboratory paperwork, sent from my doctor’s office, I filled in all my details and checked online to see where I could be tested. We were closest to the Morningside labs, which are next to Sandton Mediclinic and not in the Mediclinic. We made that mistake at first.
We drove through and were asked to park out front and wait. They welcome walk-ins. A gentleman had a paper that he added our vehicle registration to and we waited. We were car number 68, arriving at about 11:30 am. There were six cars waiting to go before us.
Once it was our turn, the man knocked on the window and told us we could enter the building. There, a woman checked our paperwork and within minutes both my partner and I were swept off into two private rooms for testing.
I was greeted by a happy woman who showed no fear or anxiety at all. She welcomed me and assured me not to stress, she said it would be over quickly.
I asked stupid questions about what would happen during the test. We had swabs taken from the very back part of the nose (it felt like she was digging in my brain). She explained it would be painful and that I might sneeze, cough or have watery eyes. She made me tilt my head back and before I was ready, probed way beyond my pain threshold.
It was sore, very sore and quite the shock but before it became unbearable, it was over. My eyes watered and my nose ran for a bit but that was all. The pain lingered while we walked back to the car but then I forgot about it.
I was told my test results would take anywhere between 24 and 48 hours. So now we wait.
We are staying home, we will have to isolate for a time but until we get the results, there isn’t much else to be done. Naturally, we hope this has all been for nothing and we can carry on with life. But if it is COVID-19, I will keep you all updated about what it is like.
How do I feel now?
Well, I still have my symptoms, but I don’t feel sickly. I am emotionally drained today but less stressed than I was this morning. Once the processed started working, it was easy to navigate, and with a little patience, was done in a few hours.
I was surprised to see just how busy the Lancet parking lot was, but as the virus is escalating in Gauteng now, it shouldn’t be as surprising. I am the first person in my circle to have a COVID-19 scare. I have been open with friends and family about the experience too, so they know what to look out for.
The processes in place are here to protect us, and I have a new respect for the rules. While we should support our economy, staying home is vital! I know if I have COVID-19 I can survive it, but I would never forgive myself if I made someone else sick. We are taking this very seriously and so should everyone else. Always be conscious of what you are doing and where you are doing it. Thankfully, the last seven days, we only went to the shop once and had our domestic helper at the house, so our exposure to others was minimal. Please just make sure you can say the same!
“There is no need to panic – 82% of COVID-19 cases are mild: patients only experience a slight fever, fatigue and a cough. Only about 6% of patients need intensive care. The vast majority of people can stay at home and get better without hospital treatment.”
If you would like more information, the South African COVID-19 website is a wealth of knowledge and zero-rated so you don’t use data accessing the information. If you too test positive, you can access the NICD isolation information here, and remember, don’t panic!
If you missed the previous diary entries, you can find them below.