•Ogbeni OLAWALE DAWODU Reveals Inside ASOKORO Isolation Center
+3 Days Of Battling Demons Under Intensive Care…
The journey began in earnest when the Ambulance driver backed up the vehicle to the entrance of the Asokoro Special Treatment Clinic Complex at 11: 46pm on the 18th of May 2020.
I was however to wait in the van for another 20 minutes, perhaps for the doctors to get into their protective gears before admitting me.
The door finally slid open and I was helped in by the team. The walk up the stairs to the first floor was laborious for me, as I was seriously gasping for air by the time I got to the first landing. I told them that I needed to rest to catch my breath.
It is however interesting to note that, I was asked the moment I stepped into the building if they should wheel me in, but I refused the offer, still forming strongman and yet to come to terms with what I was dealing with.
We eventually got to my assigned room! I took in my new surrounding in mild surprise. Sparkling clean, air conditioned with no hospital smell. If not for the medical gadgets and the small standard issued beds, you would think you’re in a hotel room.
My head was still spinning, couldn’t breathe properly and in acute pains as the doctors asked me several questions. “What’s your name sir?” “Olawale Dawodu” “State of Origin?” “Lagos State”…Occupation?
My vitals was taken with the patients monitor machine nearby.
At this point, the brilliant, amiable and experienced Dr Ahmadu Introduced himself to me as the lead consultant ( a genius in his chosen field and a former 2 term MD of Asokoro District Hospital, as I later found out). He was worried about my pulse rate and said my potassium level is too low.
Are you hypertensive”, he probed; “No, I replied.
“Are you asthmatic?”; “Yes”, I responded.
His mood suddenly changed through the tone of his voice to that of concern. He had a short conference with his team, i couldn’t hear much of what he said to them, but I hear him say “ we must treat his asthma first before the Covid can do more damage. He then asked if I was with my Ventolin. I nodded. He said good. “ Use it now”!
I told him I was having serious difficulty with breathing. He prescribed some injections, just as he told his team to set up drip for me.
I also told him I’ve lost sense of taste and smell with no appetite, after which he immediately instructed two members of the team to quickly get oxygen and set it up.
They brought in a giant oxygen cylinder, 10 of which I eventually used, aside 5 smaller ones before I stabilized and was eventually eased off oxygen support.
As the night wore on, my condition became worse, but by divine intervention, the doctors were around when I had the first of the three asthma attacks.
As you well know, asthma is a chronic lung condition that affects the airways and causes inflammation. This inflammation causes spasms and narrowing of the airways, which leads to wheezing, breathlessness, and coughing. Generally, when a person contracts a respiratory virus, the infection sets the body’s immune response in motion. In people with asthma, this can lead to an overproduction of substances that only worsen inflammation.
COVID-19 is slightly different. It causes an inflammatory process inside lung tissue rather than the usual bronchial inflammation that occurs in asthma.
Respiratory viral infections, such as COVID-19, triggers and worsens asthma symptoms. it can also lead to pneumonia in people with moderate to severe asthma.
It can easily lead to death.
As they battled to keep me conscious, I slid off into the abyss, a deep and bottomless chasm…
They came taunting, barring fangs, grotesque in shape and some in shapeless form.
Since I got nothing to lose, it turned to a battle of survival. I took them headlong as I was being dragged down a dark hole, and I somehow, always managed to wriggle out from their grips and start floating back to the surface where I could see bright lights.
This tussle, this heavy fight seem to have lasted forever. If I defeat some, new ones will form to drag me down the hole again.
From the bottomless pit, something more primordial than life itself kicks in just at the nick of time before am dragged into total darkness.
From the inner recess of my being, a voice shouts out NO! The voice constantly warned me of the consequences of giving in, abused me even, that I must man up. I then willed the much strength I could muster to extricate myself and start floating to the surface again.
I Never knew that I was in Intensive care for three days as this was going on. I was oscillating between here and the thereafter.
I woke up to the steady but grating sound coming from the patient monitor with and oxygen mask strapped to me face.
The day was Thursday 22st May, 2020. As at that time Id lost sense of time. I didn’t even know, I thought it was a Tuesday!
OXYGEN IS LIFE!
The virus is a deadly opportunistic parasite. It looks for your most vulnerable underlying health issue, then latches on to it and starts spreading. Mine was Respiratory. At a point, my lungs got flooded with fluids. Truth be told. This virus is bad, very bad. There’s someone who had been admitted for 33 days, as I was told ( I left him at the Isolation Center). He was afraid he would die without oxygen support, even after all signs showed that he had recovered, but in his minds mind, the will to breathe on his own was impossible, which confirmed that psychology plays a huge role in a patients recovery process. Survival is a mind thing but then God is the controller of all things!
It took days before I could start moving around. I would just lie down on the bed, take my medication, get checked on the hour by the team of doctors, unable to still smell or eat anything. Lying down there had its own advantage though, it provided ample time for sober reflection. I mean, what else was there to do anyway? I had time to go over many things in my life. Past year, I lost my aged parents one month apart. It was an emotionally trying period of my life. My mother was the first to join the saints, followed by my father exactly a month later. I just went through the moment of their burial ceremonies like a zombie, I couldnt even grieve. Something kept nagging me for the past one year, but I kept suppressing it. Then it hit me. I did not witness my mother’s burial. She was a muslim and I was far away in Abuja when she died. There was no way I could make it to Lagos on time to be there. I’d carried this guilt around for a year, pushed it to the inner recess of my sub conscious. It escaped to the surface this time around. Unknowingly, I started to cry, deep, torrents of water flowing down my face, I couldn’t stop myself. Thank God my roommate was outside. This went on for like five minutes as I talked to her and asked for her forgiveness for not being there when she was lowered into her final resting place. She told me I must bury her and I promised her then that I would.
After sometime I felt better in my soul but still very sick in body.
I was very close to my mother.
My mind also shifted to other things, family and friends. Old friends who came through while I was away, calling to know how I was doing, constantly checking on my family. Giving moral support to my wife through calls and prayers. While some friends turned out to be fair weather friends masquerading as close pals, there were also acquaintances that turned to be true reliable friends.
The period afforded me a clear mind to profile them and review my dealings with a lot of people going forward. Most important of all, it afforded me the chance to appreciate my wife more. I realized that I had taken her for granted on many fronts. It deepened my resolve to do better with her. Love and respect her more. Listen to her more. Not that I meant to be stubborn but its the way of men, its the way we are wired. It takes a situation like this for a man to understand his wrongs. Its now left to him to effect changes needed. Above all, it brought me closer to God.
The days rolled by slowly. The doctors decided to transfer me to another room where I would have company. The main idea was to have another person who could watch over me when they were not around. That was how I met him. A complete gentleman from Gombe State. He was well on his way to being discharged when we became roommates and I couldn’t have asked for a better individual to share a room with. We struck it off from the beginning. He looked out for me throughout my own healing process. Intelligent and witty, he speaks with a soft voice, in contrast to the nature of his profession, for he is a senior ranking officer in the Mobile Unit of the Nigeria Police Force! He is one of the Angels in human form that I owe much gratitude.
Then there was the young boy of about six years who lurked close to our room door every morning to greet me and whisper the word, “sorry” as I followed him with my head during those critical period. He did not miss his timing. Even when my eyes were closed, I could feel him. I would open them to see his innocent face. He would then do his routine. I got introduced to him later by his mum. His name is David. They were both patients.
There was also a fellow from the eastern part of the country, who was so helpful to me during that period of immobility. He came to introduce himself and offerred words of encouragement to me on a daily basis. He went further to helping me take out my pee bottles provided by the hospital and cleaned them out without prompting, when the frontline workers were not around to do it. Selfless. Angels in human form come in different shape and sizes!
My journey to full recovery was not without its scary moments. I woke up in the middle of the night one day short of breath; frantic, I glanced at the oxygen indicator and realized that it was on red. My roommate was up and noticed my situation. He quickly helped me call the lead consultants number. In my state of panic, I totally forgot the small cylinder oxygen backup placed at the foot of my bed. He it was who rushed to my side to help transfer me to it before the team rushed in with two giant oxygen cylinders. God willing, after some days I could take fruits as supplement for food. We get served good food three times daily with fruits. I couldnt eat the food, but with encouragement of Dr Umar and Dr Akerele, I tried to take the fruits, taste or no taste. I needed it to boost my energy and immune level. Gradually I could take down little morsel of cooked food. That was when the nausea, vomiting and diarrhea started. It took days for it to come under control but I eventually made it past that phase!
What of the day I felt like I was drowning in my sleep? Even with the oxygen support! I was later told that my lungs were getting flooded with fluid. Jeesu. Panic mode activated all over. But it was dealt with by the team. I was also given an injection to clear any blood clot around my heart and chest. These guys were too efficient in their handling of patients at the center. They are underpaid, undervalued yet committed, humane, professional in their approach. I mean these guys save lives, government should do better with their welfare!
THE DAY I WALKED WITHOUT SUPPORT
I got up from the bed unaided on my 9th day at the isolation center. It was early morning. Close to when the doctors do their rounds, they came in surprised but happy. I was determined that day would be the last time I would do nature’s call on the bed. Slowly, I walked with my mobile oxygen cylinder in tow to the bathroom! I was on my way to full recovery.
On May 26th 2020 I was eased off life oxygen support.
I had beat it!
Breathing on my own!
The first thing I did was to have a hot soapy bath. I had not had a proper body wash in six days!
The doctors waited. It was a joyous morning. The doctors were singing, I was just smiling and praising God. Other patients trying to get a closer look at me. Na wa o. COVID 19 patients lined up to hail another. See crowd at the passage from different wards. All of them praising God that I eventually beat it. Word had gone round that I had started walking and breathing on my own. Never knew my case was that bad. They said I was in a bad shape in my first three days ( he who feels it knows it though). They said they were all fearful for me. Then one of them told me something that sent the chills down my spine.
He said there was day he tiptoed to my room during intensive care. Watching me, he said I was very still that he thought I was dead. He said the machine was beeping my heart beat and all but he wasn’t sure if I was still breathing. He then went to call another patient to be double sure. That one braved it into the room to ascertain. This brave man assured him that I was fine. The guy said they were all afraid I won’t make it but God had other plans. They said that’s why they were full of joy when I started moving around with my oxygen cylinder, hence; the celebration.
I was very sober after the guys told me the story.
THE REBEL WITH A CAUSE AMONG US
My 17 days stay at the isolation center was not without some unrelated drama. There was this day I was taking a nap and got woken up by loud voice from the passage way. It was my Easterner friend threatening fire and brimstone if he wasnt paid some certain money. Prior to this, I had noticed that he was trying to convince other patients to join some funny association he conjured in his head. I overheard him during one of my light walk around the complex cajoling a patient and called it “The Association of Covid 19 Victims in Nigeria”.
He was going round collating names and telephone numbers and very serious about it.
Later through my roommate, I learnt he said the federal government is using victims of the pandemic to access huge funds from foreign organisations and not thinking of compensating the very people that suffer the effect of the deadly virus. Though he was cautious not to broach his incredulous scheme with me, I found his mindset very funny indeed.
Matters came to a head two days later, when he refused to allow doctors take his second swab test sample. His argument was that he was better off fighting for his right from the inside. He reasoned that once his result came back negative he would be forced to go home. He said if he is discharged he will lose the advantage of being heard by the government. He then went ahead to barricade his bed and put up a bold sign warning frontline health workers not to approach and steer clear if they did not want to be attacked!
The frontline workers responded by stopping his feeding.
That was why he woke me up and pretty much everybody, shouting all over the complex, promising fire and brimstone. He was reeling off figures of how much the federal government has made so far on our heads without any form of compensation or any attempt to. He was of the belief that every COVID-19 patent should be paid at least N1m to assuage their pains and N5m should go to the families that lost loved ones. I only wanted to ask him at what point did this crazy idea formed in his head. Was it when he was brought to the Isolation center very sick or when he had fully recovered?
I got discharged and left him at the Isolation still pursuing his agenda, but I have a foreboding that his bizarre mission might not end in his favor.
NB: This is an abridged version of my experience at the center, you will get to read and watch the full story when my book and the Docu-Drama are released.
Thank you for your time!