Recovered staff from Victoria Hospital share their COVID-19 experience
Recovered staff from Victoria Hospital share the impact COVID-19 had on their mental and emotional health
Zintle Peter, a People Management practitioner, did not expect to contract COVID-19, as she is office-based. “I tested positive on 19 May. I am not sure where I contracted the virus, as I am office based and would do minimal shopping on my way home,” she says.
Although she had flu symptoms, she did not think it was serious. “I was in the office and had a query with one of the doctors. In our conversation I mentioned that I was feeling flu-ish. I remember telling her that I didn’t think it was serious. When I explained my symptoms were loss of taste and smell, she was convinced I may have COVID-19 and recommended I do a test. I did so, and three days later received my results and was told that I tested positive.”
Zintle says she was scared and had to prepare herself mentally for the possibility that she might have COVID-19. “While waiting for my results at home, I remember being very scared. I couldn’t sleep because of fear and kept thinking about what would happen to me and how I would cope. What if I was one of the individuals that would die? But by the time I received the news, I was ready”.
She spoke to her healthcare worker for advice on isolating at home. “I was given guidance about isolation and the use of utensils. I share a house with my cousin and daughter, aged seven. My cousin has a comorbidity, so it was important that we had to talk through what we needed to do as a family. We made arrangements as to how we would sleep, and move around the house. We also ensured that we cleaned and sanitised constantly,” says Zintle.
Zintle experienced headaches and chest congestion. She explains that dealing with her mental health was just as important as dealing with her physical health. “This experience taught me that my mental state was most important for me to deal with. My friends and family were very worried about me. I asked myself, how will I manage this virus? I reminded myself that if I were to pity myself and cry or give up, it would change nothing. I therefore chose to remain positive, and have an attitude of overcoming this virus. The support received from my family and neighbours was huge. I felt I had to tell neighbours, so that they could be informed, as they would notice supplies were dropped at the door and so that they would therefore understand. My neighbours were very helpful and thereafter would call and ask if anything was needed. I had a case Manager from our substructure that called frequently to check on symptoms, and I appreciated that a lot.”
She says staying positive is important in overcoming the virus. “I want to tell people that the most important thing to do besides treating your body, is to treat your mind, because if your mind is positive, you can fight it. People must ensure that they take care of themselves and take all the necessary precautions.”
Nonzwakazi Gxamana, Operational Manager: Nursing, says information on COVID-19 helped her to prepare herself to fight COVID-19. “I tested positive on 30 May. When my results were given to me, the person that informed me, explained it in such a beautiful way, that it reassured me, and educated me about what to expect. This alone, changed my whole perception of the virus. I was better prepared as to what to expect and how to treat my symptoms. I stay with my husband and two of my daughters. My husband and one of my daugthers tested positive. We decided to isolate at home as a family,” explains Nonzwakazi.
Nonzwakazi says she valued the human kindness that was extended to her during her recovery. “What helped me survive, was the amount of support I received. From my colleagues, family and my church. Our church has a wellness team, who are made up of doctors and health care workers, and they were a great source of encouragement, and support to me. They encouraged me and believed that I would overcome this. I remember a day that the family was not doing well, everyone was laying down in the house. I got up, I refused to accept that they would remain that way. I prepared a healthy breakfast, prepared medication for them and it was not long after that, they were doing better. I believed that the same support I was receiving, I needed to give my family,” she says.
“From this experience, I can say that I value the human kindness that people extended to me during that period. When I didn’t see the light and felt like I was in darkness, because you only think about death when you are experiencing this, but people, through their prayers and support, brought me out of the negativity. My encouragement to everyone would be to support those with COVID-19. The impact of your support is invaluable.”
Cynthia Duma, a household aid at Victoria Hospital, says she thought that she was going to die, but decided that she must stay strong if she wants to overcome COVID-19. “I tested positive on 5 June. My youngest son was there when I got my results and he asked me if I was going to die. I was scared and thought I might die, but I kept on thinking about my children. I looked at my son and told him no, I’m going to beat this.”
She says that her mindset played a large role in her recovery. “I thought it through and told myself that I had to be strong. If I was going to be weak, no one was going to fight for me. A nursing sister phoned me every day and that helped me understand the virus and what to expect. All I can say is that people must know that anyone can contract the virus, it does not discriminate,” says Cynthia.
Principal Communications Officer: Southern Western Sub-structures
Department of Health
Western Cape Government
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