My name is Flojo. Other than the usual management of endometriosis I have undergone numerous challenges during this Covid period.
Globally, Covid has been in existence since October 2019 but we had our first case locally in March 2020. I work in the Aviation industry which was hardest hit and will probably recover from the effects three years from now. I am forever grateful that I continue to earn an income (reduced pay) despite many people out there having lost their jobs, businesses collapsed or on unpaid leave. With reduced incomes many young girls & women suffering from endometriosis are struggling to buy drugs, sanitary towels, cater for gynacologist consultation fees, maintain a healthy diet, are at a high risk of contracting the virus due to low immunity levels, and are susceptible to depression and other mental disorders due to the multiple effects during these Covid times.
Due to the nature of my job I undergo Covid tests frequently. In August 2020 I tested positive. I was asymptomatic but was placed on home based care for an entire month since I tested positive again after 14 days. I am one person who abides by rules/regulations/procedures to the letter. I fail to understand how I contracted the virus in the first place. What I got to realize during the hospital visits is that suffering from endometriosis is not any different from those having underlying medical conditions who are more at risk to this virus. I am privileged to have a medical insurance cover & a Medical Facility at my place of work that catered for my treatment, medication & counselling services. There has always been an assumption that those who contract the virus are careless & should be avoided at all costs. Anyone can get it thus the need for all of us to be cautious in our social interactions. Apart from the stigma there is the fear of those feeling unwell to seek medical help. To them receiving information that they are positive is like a death sentence. As endo warriors we are conquerors and are able to deal with the toughest of all the situations we face.
After this I tested negative & thought that probably I had developed antibodies against the virus & would not fall sick again.
In September 2020 I operated a flight to China having tested negative for the Covid test which is a requirement by the health authorities in China. Despite all the crew & passengers having negative test results we all had to undergo another test at their airport on arrival; I suppose that they doubt tests that are not carried out by them. In any case I was negative out of Nairobi & assumed that all was well.
The morning we were to operate the flight back to Nairobi I received a phone call from the Chinese health authorities that my results were not good; my results were positive. I went into shock. Can you imagine receiving this information in a foreign country & in China of all places? They informed me that I could not operate back and was transferred to a government health facility for isolation & quarantine. This was the first reported case of an airline crew of a foreign airline testing positive in China. All the other patients at the facility were Chinese. Since January 2020 only Chinese nationals are permitted entry into their country with the exception of airline & marine crew but under stringent measures.
What seemed to be a traumatic experience in the beginning turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The Chinese are diligent and carry out their activities to perfection. During my stay there which was expected to be 3 weeks they carried out an intensive body check up. With time I got to realize that anyone who has had the virus or has been exposed to it suffers from infected internal organs which includes the lungs, heart, kidneys & in rare cases the brain. This is despite receiving treatment & recovery. They noted that I had fluid in my lungs. Apparently, the virus tends to also congest the lungs which results to breathing difficulties. I was put on medication to simply boost my immunity & decongest the lungs. I also had the opportunity to discuss with the local gynacologist on issues pertaining to endometriosis & she confirmed to me that it could be one of the reasons why my immunity was low.
The conditions of the public health facility is much better than what we have in Kenya. People always say that food is medicine; the food I was served during my stay was not only healthy but also in abundance. You have your own room with toilet facilities. All this time I was asymptomatic.
I was only allowed to come back home on a cargo flight so as not to expose others. By then I had already tested negative twice.
I continued with quarantine up to the end of October 2020 & has now resumed duty. I have learned to value good health, freedom of movement/liberty (having been locked up in a room by myself) & simplicity; we tend to complicate so many things in our lives which are not necessary & seen the value of close friends & family.
Due to our vulnerability I would like to emphasize the following: avoid confined & closed spaces, crowded spaces & closed-contact settings. Somethings can wait; mostly social gatherings. Our social behaviour needs to also change. Women in need of surgery have to wait long periods due to pressure on the medical resources available. They have to continue enduring the pain and other effects of menstrual disorders; the health system is strained & medical costs continue to escalate. Let us support one another & check up on each other.
Research also suggests that women suffering from endometriosis also have low magnesium levels. If possible consultation your doctor on the supplements to take.
I have now gathered the courage to speak out on my experience for the benefit of others. We also need to put a stop to the stigma in order to suppress the virus and to also ensure that we continue to stay healthy.