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My week of anxiety after Covid-19 test

By ROSELYNN OMOLLOH
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Sunday May 31 2020

On April 2, we were informed that we would get tested for Covid-19 at work. In my mind, I was at risk whatever way I looked at it.

I had returned home on January 20 from Singapore where I had gone for training and three days later, the Asian country reported its first Covid-19 case. On March 23, my son travelled back from the United Kingdom as his school had been closed and learning moved online. Despite him being in quarantine at home for the mandatory 14 days with absolutely no contact with us, I was not sure that he or much less we were safe. I therefore knew that my result would be our shared result.

I went for the test at 11 a.m. on April 3. I must have been among the first five to be tested. We were told that the result would be out on April 6. I went home and momentarily forgot about the test. Come Monday, there was no sign of the result. Fear set in, and thus began my one week of anxiety, panic, fear and agony. 

WALKING GROUP

As a way of coping with working from home, a few of my friends and I had started a walking group. We did at least 10km daily and sometimes extended it to 15km. On April 8, I walked 16km. Later that evening, I had the most excruciating headache in the world. I went to bed and barely ate anything.

The following day, the same headache on the left side of my head woke me up. My throat was dry and I could not swallow saliva. Then the fear became real. This must be it.

I called my doctor and explained my “symptoms”. He laughed at me and asked for my temperature, which was 36.6 degrees Celcius. He told me to take plenty of fluids and sleep. But in my mind, I was truly sick. I couldn’t even talk much.

GETTING READY

On April 10, I started putting my things together in case I needed to go away from my family. I called a friend of mine and we talked for an hour. I renewed the premium for a medical insurance I had last used in 2017.  This was because I did not want to talk about the possibility of a positive result and isolation with anyone, even my work colleagues – even though the test was done under the office medical insurance. 

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I called my youngest son and reminded him about the PIN for my credit and debit cards. He did not suspect anything since he uses them often. I packed my bag and called the same friend again and told them that the insurer for the premium I had renewed that week had allowed me to go to a certain hotel. Then I waited. We had been told that Pathologists Lancet Kenya would call us in person to give us the results.

TRAUMATISE CHILDREN

I was worried about being away from my children for an unknown number of days. No one has explained what happens when those people dress up to come for you. I prayed that they would allow me to proceed to isolation on my own and not traumatise my children. How would my children feel if I were picked up? How would my neighbours treat them in my absence? Is there even a single person who would risk to come and visit them? Yes, I had bought food to feed an army for the 14 days, but what would happen to them emotionally? I cried a lot on the morning of April 11 as I had even convinced myself that the result was taking long because it was positive. 

At 1.48pm that day, I got the dreaded call from Dr Caroline Gichuru. She calmly introduced herself and told me that my result was negative. I have never been so relieved my entire life. She told me what the scenarios would have been if I had tested positive. To date, I shudder to think of what would have happened.

I don’t think I would ever want anyone to go through such an ordeal.


Roselynn Omolloh is the chief of staff in the office of the Senate Speaker.

[email protected]

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