Bleach stains on all her furniture is a stern reminder of Alida Portland’s COVID-19 journey

Portland (58), a midwife at George Hospital, has survived, with her comorbidities of type 2 diabetes and hypertension…

She also had a stroke a year ago. ‘I made it,’ she says.

Delighted to be back at work, Portland shares her Covid-19 journey. “My first symptoms were a sore throat, pressure on my chest and a cough. I immediately had myself tested and went into isolation. The results came two days later. I was positive.”

Her initial reaction was of shock and anxiety

“I was very scared,” says Alida. She lives with her son, 23, who took care of her while he isolated with her as he was one of her close contacts.

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“He made sure I had a bucket of clean water, a bucket of water and bleach to clean my hands, and a separate bucket for my eating utensils. He also prepared my food when I did not feel up to the task and brought it on a tray.”

“I felt really ill on day three with immense chest pressure. I was, however, in constant contact with the contact tracing team in George, my manager, and hospital management. Everyone made sure I was being monitored and I really felt that I could press on their button any time of the day.”

Portland says that being in isolation can become lonely

“Loneliness is a big factor during your Covid-19 journey. Two weeks might not seem long, but confined to your bedroom or only certain parts of your home, this can be become a very long and lonely journey.”

“I made sure to be in constant contact with family and friends on WhatsApp. Sadly, we also lost two extended family members due to Covid-19 during my isolation, which was especially difficult for me. Mourning without other family was extremely difficult to go through, but our online counselling support network through government meant I could tap into professional help to assist me during this time,” explains Portland.

Road to recovery

When asked what she did to assist her body in healing, she lists eating healthy, drinking enough fluids, getting lots of sunlight, and a positive mindset.

Portland expresses her concern with the behaviour of some members of the public. “People need to realise that COVID-19 can cause serious illness in some, and to protect those people, we need to take all the necessary precautions. We need to change our behaviour.”

As someone with comorbidities who had a high risk of severe COVID-19, she urges residents in the Western Cape to protect the vulnerable by practising social distancing and wearing a mask when they leave their homes.

She laughs when she explains the white bleach stains on all her furniture. “My son was determined to keep all our common areas clean, including parts of furniture I might have touched. This led to white bleach stains on some of our furniture pieces. I had such a laugh – he was the best nurse a nurse could ask for.”

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