• Friday, July 12, 2024
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BusinessDay

Surviving COVID

COVID

Fellow “stubbornaires” like me who think they’re men of steel like Superman, sorry to break this to you but Superman is a fictional character; created by the figment of one man’s very wild imagination. He doesn’t exist and since you do exist, you can’t be him. I do wish sometimes that I wasn’t so stubborn because it doesn’t always pay me but then my “Ekitiness” must come out somehow. I’m not so given to writing petitions; once regarded our favourite pastime and I’m only so-so when it comes to “knowing book”, so what remains. I must be stubborn. There are no two ways about it.

Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favourite authors because of his uncommon insight and uncanny ability to uncover “why this is so” and in the process, largely dismisses the idea of sheer randomness, wrote in one of his books of how we human beings can easily arrive at a place of feeling invincible when we narrowly escape a hugely anticipated danger; especially if it happens more than once. He gave several anecdotes. The result is that one may then become quite careless and reckless, slipping quite unwisely into that “ki lo fe s’ele” (what will happen) attitude.

I spent the better part of December down with Covid-19. Though my symptoms were relatively moderate, it’s not something I would wish on anyone. By early January, I felt like I was getting back to my old self except for a couple of lingering symptoms. Little did I know other symptoms would soon return more profoundly than ever before, even though I had by now tested negative. I had to take a trip outside of Lagos and subjected myself to the pothole infested roads for a little under two hours. “Superman” had overstretched himself. Arriving at my destination, I informed my wife that I was feeling unusually tired. I couldn’t comprehend how I was feeling. It was baffling and even scarier. What was this? Rushed to the hospital by my wife two days later and by now with a very high fever, my doctor revealed that my antibodies count was very high, a clear indication that my body was fighting an infection. I had what you call Long Covid which can at times last for 12 weeks! Up until this point, I had never heard of it. “Wetin be dis one again?” I was told it’s a post Covid condition where some of the Covid symptoms resurface. I can’t speak for others but in my case, the symptoms were even more intense and severe than when I tested positive. I now had a dangerously high temperature, which I didn’t have before and everything else was multiplied by four in terms of severity. Shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, body ache were all intensified. I could barely walk, talk or do anything for that matter. Every little thing required so much effort. Climbing the staircase at home became a huge task and when I eventually reached the top, I felt like I had just run a marathon. It was just horrible.

Read Also: State House Clinic to get COVID-19 testing laboratory

Our President recently decreed that all Covid-19 protocols must now be strictly adhered to and those in breach will face penalties such as fines or even jail term. Great. The challenge I however envisage, apart from the obvious impracticality of enforcement, is to get people who have little hope to really care. In a country of 200m and half of this humongous population is living in extreme poverty, how do you get people to place premium value on their lives? Especially after peering into the future and seeing nothing awaiting them there. Nothing kills the spirit quite like when hope is lost. The hawkers we see swerving between speeding vehicles to make ends meet – do you think they’re not aware of the dangers of that? Mothers pushed by desperation to send their young daughters out to hawk wares at dusk and again as the sunsets – are they totally ignorant of the perils? Stories of rape, abduction and ritual killings filter through the radio, newspapers and the social media on a daily basis. I can assure you of one thing, they all know. But from where they are standing, they haven’t been left with many options. Survival is the name of the game and like in the Hobbesian world where life was ever so “nasty, short and brutish” and man was in a state of perpetual war with his environment if he was to have any hope of surviving the day to see another, the average Nigerian has learned to live with the many hazards of present-day Nigeria. Coronavirus as far as many of them are concerned is just another one of them. And it’s not even one that’s in their face or which result is as imminent as the hunger staring back at them if they don’t somehow earn money to eat.

If Dr Doyin Okupe’s analysis, which went viral on social media is to be believed, then it means the effects of the virus are generally less lethal amongst the man in the street.

Going by his research, the man in the street receives a more regular dose of the vital Vitamin D, crucial in fending off the virus, simply because he spends more time in the sun. Scientists say the sun’s rays interact with a protein in the skin and converts it into Vitamin D3. The average man’s robust constitution, perhaps in addition to the near absence of death caused by “Coro” amongst his peers and daily news of one “big man” or the other falling victim to it, can only embolden him further that “nothing can happen”. The carelessness which naturally follows will, of course, render the likes of you and me, who constantly step from one air-conditioned environment into another, more vulnerable as we all interact with each other in our daily dealings. But in the end, who really bears the brunt of living in such a dysfunctional society? Is it the rich, the poor; educated or illiterate; southerner or northerner; Muslim or Christian; those who govern or the governed? In the end and in one way or the other, we all do.

Changing the nation…one mind at a time.