Covid-19 survivors share their stories

Zintle Peter did not expect to catch Covid-19 because although she works at Victoria Hospital, she is office-based and only did minimal shopping on her way home from work.

Although she had flu symptoms, she didn’t think they were 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.”

Ms Peter had the test, and three days later, on May 19, she learnt she was positive.

“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 got advice on how to self-isolate at her house, which she shares with her cousin and seven-year-old daughter.

“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.”

Ms Peter says she found that dealing with her mental health was just as important as dealing with the physical symptoms she experienced – headaches and chest congestion.”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.”

She says the support she got from family and neighbours helped get her through her illness.

“People must ensure that they take care of themselves and take all the necessary precautions,” she says.

Nonzwakazi Gxamana, a nursing manager at Victoria, says being informed about Covid-19 helped her in her fight with it.

“I tested positive on May 30. 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 daughters tested positive. We decided to isolate at home as a family.”

She says she valued the kindness shown 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 lying 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.

“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, says she thought she was going to die when she heard she had Covid-19 but then realised she needed to stay strong to beat it.

“I tested positive on June 5. 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 attitude helped her pull through.

“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.”