The day that Capetonian Samantha Pinn went to get tested for Covid-19, she was almost certain the result would return positive based on one reason: she was short of breath just walking from her car to the testing tent at Kingsbury Hospital. A few days later, her husband also tested positive.
“I was tested on 22 May and received my results on 24 May. This after falling ill on 18 May and within two days, my symptoms became progressively worse,” recalls Samantha. “I had bronchitis twice this year and when I started feeling ill, I suspected that it was once again bronchitis – even though it is uncommon for me to get bronchitis this much in one year. I had headaches, a sore throat, cough, shortness of breath and fevers.”
After testing positive, Samantha was told by her doctor to go into hospital. In fact, she received two referral letters but was scared that being in hospital would result in her picking up another infection. “When my eldest was only seven months old, he was in hospital being treated for the rotavirus. During our four-day stay, he picked up an additional infection known as RSV and we spent nearly a month in ICU. My son almost lost his life and to this day, that incident has left me fearful of hospitals.” While self-isolating and taking her treatment at home, Samantha had a Finger Pulse Oximeter and monitored her oxygen levels every 30 minutes. This was especially important because she is asthmatic, and the coronavirus affects the respiratory organs.
Treatment and recovery
Samantha was prescribed antibiotics and flu medication, which she started the day after her doctor’s visit. Upon completing the antibiotics, she was prescribed Efferflu C Immune Booster (one tablet daily), Calciferol and Zinplex, as it was indicated that zinc is really important. “In the beginning, I struggled with the high fevers. This made me feel weak and I no appetite. The doctor suggested that I take Panado for the fever since Ibuprofen is not recommended in patients with Covid-19. The Panado didn’t work and I was eventually prescribed Stilpane, which helped with both the fevers and headaches,” she says. Currently in her third year of studies, getting Covid-19 caused Samantha to miss one of her exams, which she had to defer to July because she was too ill to write the paper.
During the 14-day self-isolation period, Samantha battled to breathe and was regularly taking her asthma pump (Symbicord Turbuhaler). Her doctor further prescribed Prednisone, which according to Samantha, made a world of difference. “By Monday, 1 June, the struggle with my chest worsened and I was now experiencing pain. The doctor requested that I have X-rays done. I had to call ahead to inform the radiographers of my Covid-19 status and it was at this point that I experienced the stigma associated with this virus,” recalls Samantha.
“I was asked to enter the offices via a separate entrance and was made to wait in a linked passageway between the ER and the X-ray department. While waiting, a gentleman who was heading up the passage asked me if I was waiting for X-rays and advised me to go in. When I told him I had Covid-19, he stopped dead in his tracks with a very worried look on his face. He then politely asked me to move out the way so he could pass, which I did. That experience made me feel victimised.”
Samantha’s X-ray revealed that the bronchitis had worsened, and this is when she was prescribed a second course of antibiotics. “This certainly did the job, because by that Thursday evening the pain in my chest eased and my breathing improved.”
Since Samantha tested positive, her husband and two kids, aged 10 and 13-years old, were also required to get tested. “I remember feeling ill at the thought of them testing positive and I was overcome with worry. My boys were such troopers! They said the test was uncomfortable, but not sore. The Covid-19 test is a nasal test whereby a very long earbud is put up the nostril. It is quite uncomfortable, and I felt as though they were trying to reach my brain.”
Thankfully, Samantha’s children tested negative however, the results were not good for her husband whose test returned positive. “At this stage, I started to freak out. Would we need to send our children away for two weeks? Just the thought of that caused my husband and I to break down. After much discussion, we came to the conclusion that if the kids hadn’t tested positive in spite of them being in close contact with us and laying in our bed, then they were probably much more resilient than we gave them credit for. We also understood that we knew our status and were taking the necessary precautions. Sending them to stay with family meant that we had no control over the environment and that was risk in itself.”
Samantha and her husband decided on the following: their room would be their space; they cannot enter the kids’ room and vice versa. The family was required to wear a mask in every common area of the house. This was non-negotiable. Whenever food was prepared, everyone would wash and sanitise their hands for added measure. Furthermore, Samantha and her husband would ensure they cleaned the bathroom properly after each use. “When washing our hands, the boys used the warm water tap and we used the cold water tap; we brushed our teeth in the bathtub and the boys brushed their teeth in the basin.”
“We stayed in contact with family via phone, and when I posted my blog about our Covid-19 journey, prayers and messages of support poured in from all over. I received so many messages daily asking how we were doing. Some days, I just felt overwhelmed and I would avoid answering the messages until I was in a better state of mind. One thing I can say with certainty: not only does this virus affect you physically, but it also takes its toll on you mentally and emotionally.”
To those people who still doubt the seriousness of Covid-19, Samantha offers this advice: “The virus is getting closer and closer to home, and honestly you would be foolish to not believe it is real. My story is one of triumph and overcoming all the odds. Truthfully, I believe it was prayer and God’s grace that saw us through, because it could so easily have gone in the wrong direction. Do not take this threat for granted; it is real and it is out there, so be careful.”
Currently, Samantha and her husband are taking each day as it comes and still struggle with some residual effects, such as headaches. They continue to take their vitamins daily and pray for healing.
For more insight on Samantha’s experience with Covid-19, visit her blog: www.sampinnchronicles.blogspot.com
Author: Candice Landie