Alida Portland is a midwife at the George Hospital on the Garden Route. The 58-year-old woman survived COVID-19, while dealing with two comorbidities – type 2 diabetes and hypertension. She also survived a stroke last year.
“I made it,” she says. “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 Portland.
She lives with her 23-year-old son who took care of her and isolated with her, as he was one of her close contacts.
“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.
According to the midwife, being in isolation can become very 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,” Portland explains.
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. As someone with comorbidities who had a high risk of severe COVID-19, Portland urges residents in the Western Cape to protect the vulnerable by practicing social distancing and wearing a mask when they leave their homes.
“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,” she says.
A lot of Portland’s furniture is covered in bleach stains following her recovery.
“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,” she says.
Picture: Alida Portland/Facebook and supplied