Johannesburg – Married couple Mlandeli and Nomfundo Jantjies have experienced a tough few months after Nomfundo’s mother died from coronavirus and, less than a month later, her husband also contracted the virus.
The couple’s difficult coronavirus journey began in July when Nomfundo’s 81-year-old mother fell sick. They live in Knysna, Western Cape.
“We rushed from Knysna back home to Uitenhage and sent her to the doctor. They said she had dementia. She was injected twice and we saw she could still stand; my mother was a strong person,” she said.
Yet Nomfundo’s mother died at the hospital on July 11 and her funeral was on July 18. Nomfundo and Mlandeli returned to Knysna on July 25 but neither developed any symptoms while at home.
Less than a month later, on August 5, Mlandeli started to develop symptoms – a fever, a sore throat and body pains – and was tested for coronavirus on the same day. The following day it was confirmed that he had Covid-19.
“While I was at home, I could feel that I didn’t have strength and had shortness of breath. I saw that my condition wasn’t good, and I told my wife to call an ambulance,” he told The Star this week.
On the fifth day of 10 days of self-isolation, Mlandeli’s condition took a turn for the worse and he was admitted to Knysna Hospital the following day.
“It was scary because it felt like I was watching him die the same way my mother died,” Nomfundo said.
Mlandeli said that he had to rely on oxygen tanks to breath for the three days of his stay in hospital and had to drink about eight different pills every morning and two in the evening.
“I wasn’t in the best condition when I first arrived at the hospital. Every few minutes it felt like a big wheel was hitting my chest and I couldn’t sleep,” he said.
During his hospital stay, Mlandeli was also informed that he was diabetic and had to immediately start taking treatment.
By August 14, he was able to breathe with the oxygen he was given, and sleep through the night, however, some symptoms were persistent, including a sore chest and shortness of breath. He remained in hospital for a further 12 days and was discharged on August 27.
Nomfundo said that it scared her to see how very sick her husband was and she was in more pain because she couldn’t visit him in hospital.
“I understand very well the reasoning behind this, but why can’t people see our family members through a window? I wanted to see my husband, even if it was just five minutes through a window,” she said.
She slept better on days when she visited the hospital and spoke to the matron in charge, even though she knew she couldn’t see Mlandeni.
Mlandeni agreed with his wife and advised other coronavirus patients to keep a strong support structure and to stay close to God.
“Positivity is very, very important and, above all, it helps to hold on to what you believe in,” Nomfundo concluded.