“I got a second chance to live and I am grateful for it,” said Ivuoma Tom, a registered nurse and COVID-19 survivor, as she recounted her experience.
Ivuoma works with a private hospital in Benin State. As a health worker aware of the high risk her profession poses in exposing her to the coronavirus, Ivuoma read up relevant information about the virus and even took a course online to better equipped herself. However, nothing prepared her for the two weeks she spent battling COVID-19 at the Infectious Disease Hospital inYaba, Lagos State.
“Although the hospital where I work did the best that they could to ensure our safety, I was exposed to the virus when I came into contact with a patient who we didn’t know had been exposed. My colleague and I went into self-isolation for fourteen days after the exposure. My test result came out within the period and I tested positive for COVID-19. I thought everything was alright because I was asymptomatic, but on the sixteenth day, this deadly disease got a hold of me,” Ivuoma winced, as she recalled her traumatic experience.
“The sixteenth day after exposure, I started having difficulty breathing. I called NCDC, they came to pick me up and took me to the isolation centre in Lekki, Lagos. That night was horrible. I was wheezing like somebody who has asthma and at some point, I could not talk. I was so scared. Luckily, an oxygen cylinder was brought in and I was able to breathe through it before I was transferred to the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba. I stayed on oxygen for five days. Those five days were days of restlessness, sorrow and depression.”
“I am very fortunate to have a strong support system. My fiancé, my sister and her husband were strongly there for me,” Ivuoma said.
“On the third day of being on oxygen, I sent a message to my fiancé. I told him I didn’t know if I was going to make it and whatever happens, he should stay strong. He called me immediately and told me I was not going anywhere. He played a vital role in ensuring that I was transferred to Infectious Disease Hospital for proper management.”
“I am not a careless person, yet I contracted the virus. COVID-19 has taught me to be much more careful in observing all precautions, such as handwashing, wearing a facemask and keeping physical distance. Now I hardly go out except to work. I feel really bad whenever I see someone who still thinks coronavirus is a scam in Nigeria.”
Many people still deny the existence of COVID-19, and many Nigerians go about their business every day without putting on a facemask or maintaining physical distance. After surviving the disease, Ivuoma now advocates even more strongly for people to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
“I believe the coronavirus will one day be a thing of the past, but it lies in all of our hands to make that happen. Please stay safe and let’s save the world.”