I do not condone President Yoweri Museveni’s directives of locking down while using his militia to terrorize and kill people. He knows this is wrong and I think he is addressing it. During pandemics, many leaders panic. Even Canada where I live has locked us down (Day 26 Moncton Lockdown). However, I understand why he is doing it. Our people are obstinate. The man tells you to stay home and you go jogging in groups on the Entebbe Expressway as if you even paid for it? Helloooo!!
Dr. Aceng is doing an amazing job by the way. I watch Dr. Theresa Tam (Canada’s Public Health Chief Officer) and Aceng is really great. One day, Ugandans will know this.
I would like to tell you about what it feels like to be on a ventilator (intubated).
I woke up from a coma and pulled all the wires and tubes off. My kids were standing in front of me. The ICU had decided to let me wake up from the medically induced coma. Prior to the medically induced coma, I had been in a real coma that was not medically induced.
I could not talk. I had many things to say. I was staring at my kids and trying to tell them not to cry as I was gonna be okay. However, I could not talk about having tubes in my mouth and nose and whatever else and there were many other tubes in all the veins possible.
The last thing I remember is the nurse yelling “we gotta put her to sleep again” just after I had pulled all the tubes off.
A few days later, I woke up. This time was in my own room. Naturally, I proceeded to pull off all the wires. I had no tubes in my mouth now and I could talk. I was now breathing on my own. What a feeling to breathe! I cannot describe to you the gift of breathing. Every morning as soon as I open my eyes, I say a prayer “God, I thank you for the gift of breath”.
First thing I said, “where are my kids? I have a lot to tell them”.
The nurse told me that I had been breathing on my own for 3 days and this is why I was no longer on a ventilator. By this time, Thierry had flown to Toronto and taken his kids back to Moncton so that they would not miss too much school.
The nurse dialed Thierry and said “Martha is awake and can now talk. Do you have the girls nearby?”
This to me was the most wonderful feeling ever. The voices of my girls. And I could breathe again. That I could talk. That I could return to my family. From that day, everything became a miracle for me daily.
When I was airlifted back home (Toronto to Moncton), I had a very high chance of dying on that air ambulance. I had had to sign a paper that I could die and would I risk flying home? McMaster University Hospital is an incredible hospital in Canada and I could have stayed there for the next period of my life to recover. However, my kids meant life and death to me. I cannot live without my kids. So, I signed the silly paper. Come on, my kids would heal me when I got home.
What followed was something I had never imagined. I had planned for it though in case I got hit by the bus. I was later intubated in New Brunswick too.
Being put on a ventilator is not a walk in the park. A very high percentage of people die on ventilators. If you read the stats on ventilator survivors, the numbers are not good at all. The minute you go onto the ventilator, you are likely going to die no matter what the best medics do for you. Consequently, as countries struggle to buy ventilators for their sick, their citizens, their loved ones. As medics struggle to save lives, please know that the last thing you want to experience is being hooked up on a ventilator. The death rate of older people dying on ventilators (intubated) is only one Google search away.
While Canada can assign me a nurse just for me when I am sick and on a ventilator (life support) 24 by 7, while Canada can afford to have Internal Medicine doctors watch me day and night, Uganda does not have these luxuries.
For certain, after the Corona Pandemic is over, we will review what we went through, what Museveni did, what Dr. Aceng did, and how we survived. In that review, be sure that you will read that President Yoweri Museveni and Dr. Ruth Jane Aceng saved you from going on a ventilator.
Things seem very hard right now. However, you do not want to experience what could be harder. Uganda must avoid any and all possible cases of putting people on ventilators. Of course, we should do it where it is absolutely necessary. However, you are walking up and down Entebbe Expressway to show off your Kabina and then you get sick… damn!!
MARTHA LEAH NANGALAMA