KAROO NEWS - Graaff-Reinet Advertiser's Aberdeen correspondent, Sue Shaw, recently tested positive for Covid-19.
She shares her experience here:
I am writing this on Monday evening from the Covid-19 isolation ward in Graaff-Reinet's Midland Hospital, after being admitted late on Friday evening.
My first symptoms hit just a week ago, I headed for bed at about 10pm, but after only five minutes I suddenly felt very dizzy, started trembling, and became agitated and confused. This was frightening, and after phoning first, my husband drove me to the Aberdeen Hospital.
My blood pressure was extremely high, so the doctor was called. He was concerned that it could be the virus, especially when I told him I had had bad diarrhoea the previous Friday.
He took a throat swab (uncomfortable, but quickly done) and sent me home with medication and instructions to monitor my blood pressure closely on our home machine. He kept in regular contact over the next two days, as the pressure was still high.
On Friday morning, I called to give him the readings and was told to expect him within the next hour. He arrived with a nurse, gave me the news that I was positive, and after discovering my blood pressure had reached a level that classified it as a 'hypertension event', he arranged for me to be transferred here for close observation so that medical intervention would be immediately on hand if necessary.
I arrived at about 23:00, and the first night was not a good experience. I was still very worried, and so cold that I barely slept. I was given just a top sheet and a thin cotton blanket - there were no more blankets available.
The next morning, I was seen by a young doctor who had just finished 24 hours straight working and was exhausted.
But after the first night, I was able to appreciate the magnificent job that the staff here are doing, with kindness, professionalism and care. The ward is spotless, with a brand-new ablution block.
There were four other patients when I arrived, one of whom gleefully left the next morning. Sadly, we lost an elderly man to the virus on Saturday night.
Donovan*, a young man in his late 20s, was in the opposite corner to me, and soon introduced me to the logistics of 'ordering in', and getting parcels delivered. That helped me arrange blankets from a kind friend. His symptoms were very different from mine, with mainly a loss of feeling in his hands, and generally being a little unwell. He left today, very happy to be going home to complete two more days of self-isolation before returning to work.
Ouma N * in the next bed is frail and has been troubled with vomiting. She has been here a week already. She is unsteady on her feet but has been encouraged by the staff to make occasional forays across the ward with her walker. "They are very good to me here," she said, "and nothing is too much trouble. Whenever I call for help, someone comes quickly, and they never complain."
John*, in his late 60s, arrived on Saturday, transferred from the Patient Under Observation (PUI) ward. He has been on oxygen the whole time, for breathing problems, but has no history of respiratory issues.
The medicine, hospital and staff
I have a tub of 23 pills every morning, lots of vitamins as well as other specific medication is given as a Covid package. Also, an intravenous antibiotic, and a daily shot in my abdomen of something to prevent clotting. Fortunately, I have had no side-effects and my blood pressure and oxygen levels are good now.
There was excitement in the ward today when seven new beds arrived, from Bhisho. After helping the nurses figure out how to remove the sides, I was given the honour of trying out the first bed and had great fun trying out all the controls to raise and lower various sections of the bed. The sister fortunately remembered to put the brake on, as it looked like I might go full steam ahead across the ward at one point!
Most of the staff seem comfortable working in the Covid ward and show their professionalism and pride in a job well done. However, some of the nurses shared their worries that they might be taking the virus back to their families. "It would be wonderful if we could have some temporary showers for staff in the unit so that we could clean up thoroughly before we go home," said one sister.
Support from community
I have been sustained and uplifted through this journey by the incredible support shown from firstly my family, but also many friends and contacts from across the world. I first shared my news on an Aberdeen WhatsApp group, and offers of help, support and prayers came pouring in. Then, after posting on Facebook, I was overwhelmed with the response, from old school friends, past pupils, local friends and even those I have never met in person but have come to know well, either through journalism or other shared interest. It has been a humbling experience, and the words of support have given me great comfort.
Today was a great day - my husband tested negative, and the duty doctor was pleased with my results to predict a return home probably on Wednesday, to complete my self-isolation there.
I feel privileged to have experienced this wonderful support and excellent treatment and care, and am very proud to be able to tell the world of the standard of care offered in our local hospital.
*not their real names
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