AN ULCER EXPERIENCE
I didn’t know what to always refer to myself but I choose to say i was a strong woman. Having lived a life full of allergies for the past 10 years, it was so hard for me to place myself on a sick bed, to the extent that even if my tiny nose almost busted, work still remained my priority and if the current moment’s priority was not work related, I would still undertake it.
The nose irritation was not usual this time around, it came with a slightly sore throat, a wrong timing for its arrival. The allergy came at a time when corona virus was a lyric in every Ugandan mouth, those who had flu like symptoms were lepers in the working community. The fear of telling my colleagues about my flue like feeling did not grab me, I boldly told them about it and they said while keeping a distance and laughing. ‘You have got corona you girl’, but that did not scare me sometimes, I didn’t have a completely sore throat, it was just a little scratchy burning feeling. However sometimes I had to worry a lot, just in case it was the new virus.
The more the corona virus news became concentrated, the more the corona virus like symptoms increased. I remember moments when I could worry and think about the covid 19 stigma. Thoughts about being buried by strangers often ran through my mind too. Those moments made me so low.
And then the symptoms worsened on the third day, I felt serious chest pain amidst the usual flu, as if that wasn’t enough, the usual allergic cough also popped up. An annoying and scary experience this was, because first the allergic flu comes with a sore throat, then a painful chest comes with a cough. I didn’t know what to call it after all for the past years, I also didn’t know the name of the allergy that made me carry a handkerchief all the time for an abrupt running nose. It was not only about the nose, there are times when I would develop a cough and a chocking feeling even without knowing the cause.
After work , I lay on bed in my little room, thinking about what to do next, I thought of calling the toll free numbers lingered in my mind but unfortunately only people who had come in close contact with those arriving from foreign countries were being checked, fortunately or unfortunately , I wasn’t among those. Has this virus come from hell or something. I thought. Action was better than words, I got up, went to my green workplace in the evening and collected all forms of steam bath herbs (Thanks to my mother’s steaming lessons. In the herbal collection were leaves of guava, eucalyptus, and emopim( English name not known). On my way back home, I got an old man cutting a mango tree, he admired my herbs and asked for their origin, he seemed interested, so I told him their source. He then offered me the mango leaves to add on the steam bath recipe. Rushing home, I boiled them using a paraffin stove, until ready to be eaten if edible anyway, I poured the steaming cocktail in a basin, undressed myself , to nicker level, got the warm bedcover, knelt down in front of the mixture and covered myself , it was irresistibly hot. What I feared when I was little became my courage. The hotter the steam became, the more I wanted to inhale, and when the heat seemed to reduce, I turned the leaves. That was the first time I extremely sweated. I got out feeling too fresh. All my disease problems got solved except for the case of the cough.
It is said that treating symptoms doesn’t heal disease, it’s absolutely true. The steam bath treated only the symptoms, and not the disease. I had a chest pain relapse the next day (Saturday, 21st March, 2020), and medical attention wasn’t something to spare. I was ready to now under go corona virus quarantine and probably treatment in case I had got the virus from God knows where. The day was so timid, I lay in bed thinking of the way forward, whether to call the Covid 19 team or simply match to hospital. Calling the covid 19 team wasn’t a good idea, since the corona virus wasn’t in Uganda, I actually knew the answer they would give, so I decided to use the other option. Thinking about what I needed for the quarantine stay, I made a list which had nickers, three clothes, lotion, perfume, and sanitary pads . I assembled the requirements and placed in a little bag which acted as a handbag.
Confidently matching with my property for my personal rescue, I got into a taxi, making sure I don’t touch anybody, I sat at the corner of the behind seat, leaving some space between the seats. Like the incoming passengers knew, they gave me space, before even hearing me cough, I must have resembled covid 19. In case the person in the 3rd seat left, he was replaced immediately, leaving the middle seat empty. I somehow felt stigmatised but was happy at some point because they were probably protecting themselves, I leaned at the window to let the corona virus air go.
Going to Entebbe Referral hospital was a mistake of the season. I paused at the gate a bit, waiting for a security officer check-up which I didn’t get, and giving up, I walked straight to private section which I often went to whenever I didn’t feel well. I didn’t care about the boundary thread which I saw and just when I was about to lift it a bit to pass under, I saw a health officer approaching me. With a serious face, he asked where I was heading to and when I told him my destination, he referred me to the government section.
The government section barely had a medic, but a group of miserable patients, waiting for the mercy of a doctor. At that point, I wished I could just find any private doctor anywhere because I was ready to sacrifice my money for a medical check-up. My brain started processing thoughts about dying of COVID 19, the hope for treatment and check-up was all gone, the energy I had was all sucked by worries. Trying to regain my hopes, I asked one miserable mother where I could find private doctors ‘ May be you try the maternity section’
The maternity section was filled with pregnant women bearing the weakness caused by their unborn babies. I felt out of place because the only thing that created a relationship between me and them was gender, while the babies in their wombs created a difference. I knew I was in a wrong place and had to leave, so I proceeded to the second floor of the building.
Just as I was slopping down the steps, I saw a figure in a white lab coat, so much in a hurry. I shamelessly stopped him regardless of what he was hurrying to do. ‘ Hello, I need a private doctor urgently’ , while moving on, he pointed towards a door leading to a line of locked rooms, only one was open, making me hope for a doctor. ‘Rabies clinic ‘ In the rabies clinic , everybody was in their own world. Had I been a thief, I would have been able to steal everybody in the office (I moved in and out without their notice). I decided to go back to the office to ask the doctor who was now staring at me standing outside the door, unfortunately she arrogantly responded. ‘ The doctors have been here waiting since morning, you didn’t want to come’ She said . Not wanting additional stress from her attitude, I walked out climbed down the steps to the first floor which had the main exit. I didn’t want to be in Entebbe Referral Hospital anymore, I just wanted to go home
Just as I was about to completely get out of the hospital premises, a little hope grabbed me again. I moved back to a passing medic, whom everybody was asking or waiting to ask question, I stood slightly apart waiting for him to finish attending to other people, because my concern was a private and special case. I was lucky to have managed to draw his attention. Like he knew it was going to be a private conversation, he stepped aside and asked me what the problem was. When I told him my pains, he referred me to Kisubi hospital for screening.
Everyone in Kisubi hospital was aware of the corona virus. Upon reaching the hospital gate, the security officer encouraged me to wash hands and go to a tent. That moment made thoughts run through my mind, thoughts about being and driven off to Entebbe referral hospital for quarantine. I wanted all my thoughts to come true, because at least the burden of worrying would be relieved off my back. I obediently headed to the Corona virus screening tent, and just when I was about to seat down, a figure in a white lab coat approached me, he called me forward. I stood a one metre distance away. The answers I gave to the medic correspondent with the signs and symptoms of the corona virus, a reason he referred me to the doctor for check-up.
The doctor was good enough for my day. He was one of the calmest doctors had ever met in life. The nurse who referred me to him must have studied my worried face enough . It was not only the nurse I suspected to understand my situation, the receptionists and the cashiers were most kind as well. And so the doctor did the questioning. The questions were too strange but very closely related to my current situation. I answered while wondering if he really knew what he was doing and if he wasn’t scared about the covid 19 related symptoms I aired out to him. But why did I even wonder, he was a doctor, he had to be calm and be in his normal mood. He told me to go and carry out the lab tests he had written on paper.
I didn’t go straight to the laboratory, I rushed to my workplace which was nearby to request for treatment money. At the mention of feeling sick, the Principal wore a worried face, he thought his Librarian was going to die. That period was the worst for one to fall sick. The Principal asked me to write a requisition of fifty thousand shillings, which I later handed over to the College Accountant. She held the requisition at the extreme corner, to prevent the virus from spreading to her. She never allowed me to enter in her office but asked me to stand at the door. Upon handing over the fifty thousand shilling note to me, she held the paper at the corner. I left immediately for Kisubi hospital.
Lying weak on the laboratory bench, I patiently for the almighty lab results .Every body’s attention seemed to be on me who didn’t care about what people thought about me lying on the bench. My chest swallowed in little chunks of oxygen which seemed heavy for it . At every point of breathe , I worried a lot about being quarantined . And then my name was called and I stood up in panic, the lab technician handed to me the results which I didn’t understand well, so I rushed straight to see the doctor who was unfortunately in the theatre .
Waiting for the doctor was the worst. Seating on that bench increased my thoughts about having the virus, I actually preferred to be told the sad news there and then without having to get worried. Luck got me sooner than I expected, I was reffered to another doctor wasn’t busy at that moment. Entering inside his office, I handed him the results. That was the point I got to discover that I had H.Pylori ulcers.