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I did everything right but still got Covid-19



It’s three days since I was discharged from my 35-day stay in hospital for Covid-19 treatment.

Before the diagnosis, I was mentally prepared to live with the pandemic, but I had not thought I could be part of the statistics.

I had done everything I thought was sure to protect my family and I.

Just accept the new norm

As a freelance journalist with contacts around the world, I had learnt a lot about Covid-19. Raffaella Scuderi from La Republica, had given me first-hand information about the devastating effects of the pandemic in Italy.

“Just accept the new norm,” she said. And I did.

She implored me to follow guidelines from the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation.

Not that I needed much convincing, for I had done my own reading and also been updated by another friend from China.

Galgalo Bocha is a freelance journalist. He contracted Covid-19 in the line of duty and was hospitalised for 35 days. PHOTO| WACHIRA MWANGI

When the first case was announced, I simply thought: “It has landed” and swung into action to keep it away from me and my family.

I forbade my family members from making contact with outsiders and my children from playing with their friends. I even taught them how to wash their hands to WHO standards.

Perhaps the constant chats with my Italian friend and later with my Chinese friend made the reality of Covid-19 sink in faster for me than for other people. I started wearing face masks whenever I stepped outside. I observed the 1.5 metre social distance. I avoided hand-shaking. The latter was the most difficult, given my socialisation.

I’m a Muslim and a pastoralist who has grown up surrounded by my community.

I also resorted to working from home except on the rare occasion I had to interview someone at a different location.

My savings were running out

This was my life between mid-March and May. Some might call it paranoia but I considered it precaution because of my six children and a pregnant wife.

However, my savings were running out, so when I was called for a field assignment, I gladly took it up with a sanitiser and face-mask in hand.

I was to cover health workers who were battling the virus in Kilifi and Mombasa. After three days I returned home. I completed a similar assignment before returning to my self-imposed isolation at home.

Headaches, joint pains and later fever emerged almost a month after that assignment. I sought treatment at Aga Khan Hospital, Mombasa, where blood tests for viral and bacterial illnesses returned negative. I was sent home with a strong painkiller and another drug.

Two days later, with no reprieve, I went for a voluntary Covid-19 test at the Lancet Kenya laboratory. 72 hours later, I was called to pick my results and Dr Ahmed Kalebi told me that the virus was acute and that I should see the assigned physician.

The physician directed an immediate admission to the Aga Khan Hospital but my insurer declined, forcing me to walk more than two kilometres to the Coast General Hospital for quarantine and treatment.

Front view of the Coast Provincial General Hospital, where Galgalo was admitted. PHOTO| FILE

After a four-hour wait, I was admitted and this is how my longest-ever hospital stay began. I was isolated in a private ward: only doctors, nurses, psychologists, janitors, and catering staff clad in personal protective equipment came by.

‘Don’t tell the children’

I asked my wife not to tell our children that I had contracted Covid-19. I did not want them to worry or be the subject of stigma. I had lied to my kids that I travelled to Nairobi for work since I didn’t want to make them worry.

Their mother told me the night I returned home that she overheard them saying that dad had taken long and would not return soon. They were pestering their mother to check on me daily. I assured them I was fine and would be back soon.

After I tested positive and informed my wife that the public health officers would visit them to test them, she lied to the children that there was a government directive requiring everyone to test for Covid-19.

The samples were collected at a nearby health centre and taken for tests. Luckily, my wife and our four children tested negative in the first and subsequent test.

Brother-in-law tested positive

My brother-in-law had a positive Covid-19 test result, even though he was asymptomatic. He went into quarantine for 14 days, tested negative and was discharged.

My symptoms began to subside after I was put on strong painkillers and other medication. Luckily, unlike other patients in the isolation ward, I did not have breathing problems.

Weeks later, I was moved to a different ward at the maternity section where there were patients with varied conditions.

Some were in a horrible state and seeing them was unnerving, especially after the death of two.

There were men in their late 30s or early 40s. One was gasping for air while the other one kept turning his head right and left.

Galgalo was hospitalised for 35 days after he contracted Covid-19. He’s pictured here in hospital. Courtesy

I was again moved to ward upstairs where I stayed alone for three days. I saw one of those patients walking along the walkway to his ward and inquired the well-being of his colleagues. He told me of the death of the two patients I had seen struggling with breathing complications. I had nightmares of them fighting for their lives.

A wailing woman

That afternoon, cries from the families of the deceased woke me up from my afternoon nap. I peeped through the window and saw an elderly woman wailing.

The medical team manning the isolation wards were friendly, professional and courteous.

I lied on my back on my hospital bed and watch outside activities- arrival of ambulances, health team coming in and out- all reflected through the open window.

Galgalo Bocha is a freelance journalist. He contracted Covid-19 in the line of duty and was admitted in hospital for 35 days. He is pictured her on his last day in hospital. Photo| Courtesy

Other than reading, watching videos and chatting online, it was the most ideal way of fighting depression.

The hospital’s psychologist told me several patients suffer mental stress few days into their admission and encouraged me to remain positive. She asked me to employ different tactics to stay strong.

Every seven days, I was tested and the result turned positive four times. The virus was taking long to shed from my body but doctors advised me not to worry because recovery depends on immunity among other factors.

Free to go home at last

Discharge from hospital for home-based isolation was out of the question because we have a shared toilet and bathroom. Doctors were especially keen not to put my pregnant wife at risk. I was put on an immune-boosting supplement and told me to take lots of water as well as lemons, garlic, and black pepper.

Galgalo Bocha relaxes at home a few days after he was discharged from hospital. He spent 35 days in hospital after testing positive for Covid-19. Photo| Wachira Mwangi

After 35 days and a fifth test, I was free to go home as I had now tested negative. I thank Coast General Hospital doctors, nurses, public health officers, nutritionists, janitors, and everyone who attended to me and other patients for risking their lives for our sake. I wish I could gift them cake and drinks to celebrate my discharge.

Galgalo relaxes at home. PHOTO| COURTESY

The first thing I did when I reached home was to hug my family tightly.

I still fear that this virus will hit us hard, simply because we are not disciplined enough to follow simple instructions for our own benefit. Compliant citizens may end up suffering because of a few reckless ones.

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NMS apologises for Pumwani child birth fiasco, takes actions



All the four hospitals in the capital, which are run by the Nairobi County government, will now be manned by officers from the National Police Service to prevent disruption of services.

The Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) announced this on Saturday after making several changes at Pumwani Maternity Hospital following an incident on September 13 in which a woman gave birth at the gate.

In a statement, NMS’ Director of Health Services, Dr Josephine Kibaru-Mbae, explained that the woman was denied entry into the facility.

Dr Kibaru-Mbae noted that the incident took place two days after nurses began a legal go-slow but added that essential services were still being offered.

“The security guard denied the patient access to the premises in a very unfortunate incident [but] a nurse from the maternity ward was notified,” she said, adding the medic rushed to the scene and helped with the delivery and the patient’s admission.


The agency apologised for the incident and said that going forward, officers from the NPS will augment provision of security at the four main county hospitals.

The other three are Mbagathi, Mama Lucy Kibaki and Mutuini.

“We take this opportunity to apologise to all Kenyans and mothers in particular for this unfortunate incident,” Dr Kibaru-Mbae said.

She assured the safety of the mother and child, saying they were both well and were discharged on Friday.

“NMS commends the nurses who quickly assisted the patient,” she said, adding Pumwani’s security team was changed and a customer care desk set up.

“NMS commits to train front office staff in all its facilities,” she added.

This is not the first time Pumwani has been in the limelight for the wrong reasons. Cases of mothers delivering outside the wards as well as those of child theft have been rife at the health facility.


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All about subdural hematoma, condition Nameless’ dad has been suffering from



Kenyan artiste Nameless has revealed that his dad has been ailing from a condition known as Subdural Hematoma in medical terms.

A subdural hematoma is a collection of blood outside the brain. It occurs when there is a head injury.

The bleeding is under the skull and outside the brain, not in the brain itself. As blood pools, however, it puts more pressure on the brain.

In the case of Nameless dad, the condition had led to clots in the head which in turn were causing minor strokes.

Below are things to learn about the condition.

There are different symptoms to Subdural hematoma and some include

  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Change in behavior
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lethargy or excessive drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Apathy
  • Seizures

The symptoms in subdural hematoma patients are not standard, it varies from one patient to another.

The conditions that influence the symptoms one has when battling subdural hematoma include

  • The size of the hematoma
  • Age of the patient
  • Other underlying medical conditions

Hematoma is majorly caused by a head injury, such as from a fall, motor vehicle collision, or an assault.

The sudden blow to the head tears blood vessels that run along the surface of the brain.

A subdural hematoma can be diagnosed using imaging tests, such as a CT or MRI scan.

Your doctor may also give you a physical examination to check your heart rate and blood pressure for evidence of internal bleeding.

An acute subdural hematoma can only be treated in an operating room.

A surgical procedure called a craniotomy may be used to remove a large subdural hematoma.

It’s normally used to treat acute subdural hematomas. In this procedure, your surgeon removes a part of your skull in order to access the clot or hematoma.

They then use suction and irrigation to remove it.

Results of hematoma may include

  • brain herniation, which puts pressure on your brain and can cause a coma or death
  • seizures
  • permanent muscle weakness or numbness.


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Couple’s triumph after testing positive



At the beginning of July this year, Geoffrey Alemba, a protocol officer in an international organisation in Nairobi was suffering from severe fever. He did not think much of it, hence he suffered through it for two more nights before seeking treatment on July 3 upon his wife, Sylvie’s insistence. The tests showed he had an acute bacterial infection. He was put on medication and went back home. By Monday July 5, the symptoms worsened , with a backache setting in.

When he began exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms such as nausea and dry throat he decided to seek treatment on July 8, with Sylvie offering to drive him to the hospital. His wife stayed with him as the doctors conducted a battery of tests, ranging from CT Scans to blood tests.

The last test was the nose swab whose results were expected to come out in 24 hours. Geoffrey was admitted and put on isolation, while Sylvie drove home, only to be arrested on her way there for staying out past curfew hours. After a tense twenty- four hours wait, Geoffrey was diagnosed positive.

Death sentence

“I remember breaking down after receiving the diagnosis. All I could remember immediately the doctor stepped out was the constant mention of death and Covid-19 in the same breath. It felt like a death sentence,” Geoffrey explains.

Geoffrey was also in shock as he had been careful both at work and at home. He was the guy who would always have a mask on, and was a vocal advocate for social distancing measures, putting on masks, hand washing and using sanitisers.

He called his wife immediately after his diagnosis and urged her to get tested. Sylvie tested positive, but with no symptoms.

After two days, his symptoms worsened, which necessitated him to be put on oxygen for four days. His doctor told him he was being treated for pneumonia and was put on drip for 10 of the 12 days he was admitted due to loss of appetite.

His body responded well to treatment and he stabilised enough for the second Covid test to be done before being released from hospital. The test came out positive and they opted for home-based care.

Sylvie had to prove that their home was fit to accommodate an ailing patient without posing a risk to other people, as per the Ministry of Health home care guidelines.


Sylvie rearranged their second bedroom and bathroom into his quarantine quarters, bought paper plates and cups to prevent cross infection and he was discharged armed with multi-vitamins and an inhaler.

“First of all, if it wasn’t for God, it would have been worse. I thank him for life and for Sylvie. Sylvie has been supportive. She would cook for me masked and wearing gloves, place the food and drinks for me in disposable plates and cups, and gave me emotional support via phone through it all,” Geoffrey enthuses.

Geoffrey just finished using his inhaler two weeks ago, though he is still on multivitamins for an immunity boost. Four tests later, he has tested negative twice and is back to work. After five tests, his wife is also negative and back to work too.

“People at the office have been supportive. I cannot say I have been stigmatised on that end. Our landlord and neighbours have also been kind and supportive. Of course, there is that fear that you can almost feel emanating from friends. There is also this one incident which I find more hilarious than hurtful. I had parked my car in a place where the guard knows me. He came to check the car and on seeing me, quickly pulled up his mask, which had been lying on his chin and took off without a word,” he further elaborates.

Alemba is still a passionate advocate for people to practice the MOH guidelines for Covid-19 prevention. He is testament to the fact that Covid is real; he has a sizeable dent in his finances to show for it. He talks of the need to care for others as one can be asymptomatic and easily spread it to others. He talks with reverence of the doctors and nurses who walked him to recovery.

“Seeing the nurses sweating and still smiling in their PPEs as they took care of us was quite humbling. One nurse told us of how the neighbour’s children run away from her whenever they spot her since they know she works with Covid patients.

“Knowing that there are all these people who stand between the ailing and certain death is quite sobering. If for no other reason, they should inspire you to be better just so you do not unnecessarily risk their lives. This whole experience has made me be want to be kinder and to be gentle towards other people and their experiences. You never know what someone has gone through. Even when they share it, you may not grasp its full depth or breadth,” he concludes.


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