I thought I was invincible as a Naturopath until COVID humbled me

As a practicing and renowned Naturopath, I had assumed my immune system was strong enough due to the many natural products I always fortify myself with. I have however come to the conclusion that indeed; human beings are susceptible to the ‘Boiling Frog’ Phenomenon. This is a famous analogue; one that’s both fitting and frightening. It’s called the boiling frog effect – the notion that a frog immersed in gradually heating water will fail to notice the creeping change in its circumstances, even as it’s literally being boiled alive.The tale of the frog in a pot of boiling water started running through my mind! Probably, I lost guard!

Then I remembered what Don William said in his song True love: “Adam and Eve on a Saturday night. That’s when the trouble started. She said Adam let’s go for a bite. She led him through the garden. And ever since then we tried to make sense of this mystery emotion.”  Yea! Mystery emotions indeed!

I saw myself in this lyrics as my problem also started on Saturday through Sunday night when she came to Tema Community 7 for a friend’swedding. The wedding ceremony became the breeding grounds for the disease.

So on Monday, 20th of December 2021, Laurie woke up feeling absolutely normal. She had zero symptoms and went about her morning with no interruptions. We were together throughout the night. We had breakfast together and said our goodbyes since we both had things to do within the day. She had quite a stressful afternoon though, since she had to drive long distance from Accra to the central region and run some errands thereafter. Upon arrival at her destination, she realized she was feeling extremely tired. Laurie’s whole body hurt and she was feeling quite sick with a headache. She however attributed it to the fact that she hadn’t slept enough the previous night, coupled with her long drive. Upon getting home, Laurie took some diclofenac. The diclofenac didn’t seem to solve the problem of her headache and bodily pain like it usually does. She however managed to sleep, hoping to feel better by the next morning.

The next morning, she was not feeling any better. She still had a headache (the headache never went away), bodily pain, fever and chills. Laurie, with her nursing background, upon careful examination, concluded it could be malaria aggravated by the stress she had experienced in the previous days; thus, she drove to the nearest pharmacy to buy  Coartem and Ibuprofen.  She started the malaria treatment, but unlike is usually the case, her symptoms did not subside in 24 hours. The headache would go down a bit and then come back in full force. Throughout the night, she had fever and severe chills. Her muscles hurt like never before. She felt extremely tired, even though she hadn’t engaged in any rigorous activity throughout the day. In short, she was suffering! She couldn’t bear the pain and discomfort. Her eyes were bloodshot and watery. She was having visual and auditory hallucinations, and her symptoms were messing with her psyche, making her feel depressed.

The COVID Test

Early the following morning on the 22nd of December, 2021, she hurriedly went to a laboratory and ordered for a Covid-19 Antigen test. She however added full blood count, malaria and typhoid tests, just to be sure. She was suffering way too much and she needed to know exactly what was happening to her. After about 45 minutes, her results were in; malaria was negative, typhoid was negative, full blood count came in fine but she had suffered tonsilitis the previous week; story for another day; and had taken a full course of antibiotics, so there was no bacterial infection in her blood. The Lab Manager handed her results; she had tested positive for Covid-19! Her first reaction was of fear; she thought of all the people she had had contact with including myself, mum, brother, friends who she met at a wedding the previous week; it was an emotional roller coaster. She quickly did her contact tracing, told everyone who needed to know, including myself and I gave her instructions on what to do next assuring her that I was fine, but not knowing it was brewing in me.

Upon leaving the lab, she purchased the full Covid-19 treatment protocol of Tab Azithromycin 500 daily for 5 days, Tab Zincovit, Vitamin C, and pain medication. I also sent her 10 boxes of Nyarkotey Hibiscus tea and some other immune boosters. In addition to these medications, she incorporated neem steam inhalation, sitting outside in the sun in the mornings, bathing only hot water, drinking hot beverages, eating fruits such as pawpaw, pineapples, oranges and bananas, and would take warm lime water every day.

Her symptoms persisted for about 7 days and spent the Christmas indoors as she had to isolate from her family. She needed to protect them. The isolation and sick feeling plunged her into a state of depression. She would constantly cry in pain and ask God to spare her life. She didn’t want to die. The headache and fever never went away. And oh, lest I forget, she had severe diarrhea! After 7 days, when her symptoms began to subside, then came the weakness. She felt so weak that she could hardly do anything. The weakness persisted for about 4 days before she started feeling better.

COVID invaded Naturopath

I thought I was immune from the disease. However, my symptoms started 12 days after exposure; 31st December, 2021 at 2am. I started shivering and went to the kitchen to prepare my version of the hibiscus tea. The next day, I had a painful sore throat with persistent cough, and my urine became yellowish. It appears the symptoms of Covid-19 vary from person to person. Immediately, I also started thinking about those I had encountered before 31st December. For my uncle, he had previously taken the jab, so he was fine and had no symptoms. Laurie recovered and as a nurse she became my healthcare giver. I had to combine the covid protocol treatment with my natural treatment as well. One of the therapeutic order principles in Naturopathy is the incorporation of pharmaceutical drugs; so I needed to act immediately.  Interestingly, Laurie’s Mum became my defacto Naturopathic doctor. She will bombard me with raw ginger and honey. I also did sun bathing. My steam inhalation was basically done using hibiscus tea.

Music Therapy Brings solace in COVID Recovery

In my case, I started listening to inspirational gospel and countryside music. Why that? After the onset of my symptoms, I started seeing cemeteries anytime I closed my eyes. I started listening to Yaw Sarpong and Asomafo songs and not forgetting Kojo Antwi’sSikadam song. I started to research on whether music therapy has an effect on covid patients’ recovery, and I realized some empirical studies had been conducted in this area. Music therapy treatments, tailored to each patient’s needs, can involve creating, singing, moving to and/or listening to music in ways that have been shown to promote physical and psychological healing. Research has shown the reduction in pain and stress from such treatments can be profound.  I realized that Music therapy is a clinical and therapeutic tool. But one thing music does for a lot of individuals is the joy it brings (Reidy et al., 2021).

COVID can deceive

As a researcher, I realized that COVID can deceive like Satan. My blood pressure was also not stabilizing. The Covid symptoms would begin to subside, making you believe you are getting better, then recur with greater force. My symptoms could stabilize in the morning and bounce back in afternoon as if I was hypnotized by her blue eyes. Maybe the thing we most desire exposes us to the disease.  Another thing I remember is that the symptoms were deeper than deep and hotter than blazing fire.  I was alone for so many nights. I really started to wonder and maybe a spell I could fall under! Laurie’s Mum says Covid is just phlegm and I just smile. I smile because, indeed, he who feels it,  knows it more! 

Do not become a boiled Frog

My experience with Covid-19 was scary, physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting, and I started thinking about those who suffered and died in this pandemic. But one thing was certain in my mind and it’s about how we die story by Daniel Tsokpor. I remembered vividly that, at a very tender age, my very responsible dad used to put up a mantra that he won’t die like the worm but he will die the death of a millipede. That saying however didn’t make sense to me as the eldest of his children, let alone my younger siblings. As I grew up, I began to ponder more and more on this subject. I began to analyze how the worm and the millipede die.

In my curiosity as a child, I placed a dead worm and millipede on our backyard for about a week. Afterwards, I found out that, the worm degenerated into total dust and had left behind no remains. Unlike the worm, the millipede, though equally dead, had all its bodily rings still remaining intact and living on. For almost a month and over, I still noticed the remains of the millipede at our backyard while the worm was totally lost. From this experiment, I concluded; the worm dies and leaves no remains for its memorial; the millipede dies and leaves on an evidence of its existence. My dad’s parable was adequately interpreted to me hence. Yes, what we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others live on forever. The end of a matter is better than its beginning. How we die matters to the world. Our lives are found on purpose. Our daily efforts must draw us a step closer to that great purpose we carry.I entreat everyone not to lose guard, do not become like the frog in a pot of boiling water! Take the protocols serious!  I would never wish this experience for anyone. I thought I was invincible as a Naturopath until COVID Humbled and pierced me like Elvis film.

The Author is an honorary Professor of Naturopathic Medicine and founder of African Naturopathic Foundation.

BY DR RAPHAEL NYARKOTEY OBU, PhD

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