GIVEN A SECOND CHANCE
Revelation 12:11 says: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; …”. When we tell testimonies of the Lord God’s power and saving grace on our lives, the devil slinks away tail between legs. So, let us share our amazing stories of God’s love in action and shame the evil one.
We look forward to reading your own story of faith in the coming weeks. Your well-written story should be about 1000 words. Send your story to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Selected stories will be compiled into an anthology of stories of faith.
Here is today’s story of faith told by Patricia Tshuma. Enjoy! Look out for the next story of faith soon.
GIVEN A SECOND CHANCE
We heard of the Covid-19 pandemic in February 2020, first from China, then other countries. It seemed like a remote monster and we thought its tentacles would never actually reach us. I am a frontline senior nurse in Essex, in the United Kingdom. There was a buzz about wearing face masks for protection. However our seniors said,
“Please do not wear masks, you will scare the patients.”
We talked and laughed and joked about this unseen beast that affected the respiratory system, which was said to have originated from China. We watched with trepidation as it seemed to be getting out of hand. Before we knew what was happening it was right next door in France. In Italy it was indiscriminately gobbling up thousands of people, close on a thousand per day. Then it was in Spain. At our workplace, the tune changed to:
“Do not wear a mask till a patient has been confirmed to have the corona virus.” But then, that would be too late. What if …? Still, we comforted one another with such words as,
“Not to worry. It will go! Whoever knew that the Spanish flu of 1918 and the Swine flu of 2009 would come to an end?”
In no time, corona virus was in our midst. People we knew well became Covid-19 statistics. This virus was no longer a laughing matter. It was right at our doorstep. Then I fell sick towards the end of March 2020. I did not put it down to the corona virus at first as I did not have the usual signs and manifestations. I never coughed nor did I have a sore throat. I was very weak. Very, very weak! Then I had a headache that made my sight grow dim. My body ached so much that I could not wash myself. Lifting my arms and hands brought on excruciating pain. The effort took all my breath so that I would literally crawl back to the bedroom from the bathroom. Then I lost appetite. My husband did his best to make appetising meals, but I could not take much. He tells me there came a time towards the end of the ordeal, when he rejoiced to see me take just two spoonfuls of porridge. Then I remember moments when he would force me to drink water.
“Please drink! Patricia, drink! Try and finish this!” It was a mammoth task. My husband also helped to steam me using various concoctions that were recommended from every which way. That helped somewhat.
Because I had no appetite, I lost quite a few kilogrammes in the short period of intense illness. I used to weigh105 kg; in no time I weighed 85kg! My sister ululated as she thought it was wonderful that I should shed off weight and suggested that I should maintain that size since I was diabetic. Her joy did not amuse me. She meant well but I was surly and scolded her.
“How dare you say that? Do you want me to continue being sick?”
I had many well-wishers. Each person empathising with me
recommended lemons, or honey and ginger, onions and garlic. I had already
been taking all those. One day I woke up to find I was wearing socks that had something soggy. I panicked wondering what had grown on my feet. Someone had told Godfrey to crush onion and put it in my socks on my feet. It was a relief when he explained the squishy mess in my feet. He had also gathered that a poultice of onions placed on the chest or back for several hours or overnight could be very helpful in clearing the lungs of excess fluid.
I used to hear Godfrey singing as he did various tasks such as cooking or washing up or when he was cleaning up; as I lay on the bed upstairs. The singing used to irritate me. Little did I know that he was singing and praying for me all the while with tears in his eyes. Self-isolating at home had been recommended. But there came a time when it seemed life was ebbing from me. I said a prayer and I thought about what I had worked for. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes said it is all vanity. Meaningless. Empty. Worthless. I would take nothing with me. Then I do not know what happened next. I learnt that my husband had called an ambulance that rushed me to Basildon Hospital. It was a hospital where I had once worked, so staff there knew me. My colleagues rushed to get me X-rayed, blood was taken, and all other procedures done. I came to consciousness to see staff rushing from this cubicle to that. Some people were screaming. I said, “No, thank you. Home is better.” One of my colleagues also said,
“Patricia, go back home. You are better off isolating there. Your breathing has improved from the time you came in. You will be all right.”
It was midnight. My husband came to fetch me. There was no relief in being home. I had such weird dreams. I was sick and tired of being sick. I felt my breadth sink to the depths. I could not talk. I tried to sleep across the bed. I tried to remain on my knees with my head on the bed. I slept on my tummy. No position was comfortable enough to bring me sleep. Again, I had to be rushed to hospital, Queens Hospital this time, which was my current station.I had mentioned to my colleagues some time back that I was allergic to penicillin. I was therefore given a different antibiotic. Unfortunately, I was also allergic to and had a bad reaction. I felt dizzy, started to sweat profusely, and my tongue started swelling, filling my mouth. There was panic. I heard from a distance one of the nurses who was a close relative to me say,
“No, no Sis Pat. What are you doing? Don’t go! O, what shall I tell uMama ekhaya (at home)?”
I slipped into a comma. Apparently, I was quickly rushed into Intensive Care Unit in the Rose Ward, from where six to seven bodies went out each day. I had mentioned earlier that I did not want to be incubated. I had noted that half the people incubated died because their lungs were perforated. When I came to, I could fuzzily make out the frame of a doctor shaking his head as he looked at me. Then the picture became clearer and he said,
“Patricia, you are a survivor! But you really scared us!”
My colleagues came in ones to check on me, all recounting the scary marvel they witnessed. As I chatted with different ones, I noted curtains opening and closing every two minutes.
“What is that?” I asked in a weak whisper.
“Patricia, it is Covi-19. People are dying. They are taking bodies to the morgue.”
“I want to go home. Please call the consultant. I cannot remain here. I can’t stand this!”
The consultant came and he said, “Yes, I am happy to let you go Patricia. Go and isolate at home.”
Back home I went, but I still experienced a bad headache and had nausea. I asked for a small bucket, went down on my knees and coughed out thick phlegm. I gathered later that it was in fact a good thing to happen as it cleared the lungs from the thick and deadly mucus.
Godfrey is not used to cooking isitshwala (thick mealie porridge), my favourite staple food. But he tried. That day I ate my fill and wanted more. My legs were still weak. I could not lift my arms. I took short walks accompanied by my husband. Going up the steps was hard, but sleep was great. I had another nightmare, where I was roaming a graveyard, crying and looking for my grave. An old woman approached me and chased me away saying,
“Go away! Go! You do not have a grave here!” I was hesitant but she shooed me away saying, “Go! You will find the gate. Go!”
I woke up, shaken. I realised I had turned back from death’s gate. That was the beginning of my road to recovery, which was slow and painful at first. My husband would help me walk around the bedroom. By the end of the first week I walked to the train station, and I was breathing without any problem. Hooray! I continue with walking exercises even today.
I look back and say, what shall I render to Jehovah for the giving me a second chance to live? I can never thank God enough. I can never thank my husband well enough for becoming the wonderful carer till I recovered fully. I am indebted to the prayers of my beloved relatives and brethren. In all this, I praise the Almighty for holding my hand through the valley of the shadow of death.
Patricia is a Senior Accident and Emergency Nursing Sister at Barking and Havering Reidbridge University Hospitals. She is married to Godfrey Tshuma and they have four children and two beautiful grandchildren.