My battle with Covid-19: ‘I had such terrible chest pains I just burst into tears’

Humphrey and Amanda Shivamba (Photo: Supplied/Amanda Shivamba)
Humphrey and Amanda Shivamba (Photo: Supplied/Amanda Shivamba)

When Amanda Shivamba’s husband, Humphrey, developed flu-like symptoms in April the couple immediately went for testing.

The results came back negative and life carried on as normal – or as normal as possible in lockdown South Africa. But in mid-July, Humphrey (35) started feeling off colour again and when Amanda’s home remedies didn’t work, she started to worry.  

“It started off with feelings of fatigue and then his symptoms developed to a dry cough, terrible headaches and intense body aches,” she tells YOU.

Humphrey went for another test and while they were waiting for the results, Amanda, who’s a human rights lawyer, started coming down with coronavirus symptoms too. The couple has four kids – a seven-year-old, a six-year-old and two-year-old twins – and were worried about how they would care for their kids if they both had the virus.

 (Photo: Supplied/Amanda Shivamba)
Humphrey and Amanda Shivamba (Photo: Supplied/Amanda Shivamba)
(Photo: Supplied/Amanda Shivamba)
The Shivamba's (Photo: Supplied/Amanda Shivamba)
(Photo: Supplied/Amanda Shivamba)
Humphrey and Amanda Shivamba's children (Photo: Supplied/Amanda Shivamba)

“I had a sore throat, fatigue and a blinding headache,” the 34-year-old mom says. “I had such terrible chest pains one evening I just burst into tears. I was so afraid.”

When Humphrey’s test results came back positive, Amanda knew hers would be positive too – and she was right. She and Humphrey were determined to make the house as safe as possible for their kids and their nanny.

She organised for their Centurion home to be deep cleaned and she and Humphrey self-isolated in separate bedrooms, donning a mask every time they set a toe outside their rooms.

“Our nanny was so helpful,” Amanda says. “She not only looked after the children but she made us food and collected our medication from the pharmacy.”

She made sure the kids took their vitamins to protect them and concentrated on building up her own strength.

“But I also worried a lot about my husband,” she admits. “He wasn’t eating and for your body to regain strength it needs fuel. My job also entails being up to date with that is happening in the news so seeing the constant case updates added to the anxiety and stress.”

Amanda describes Covid-19 as “an expensive sickness”.

“You need to stock up on all these vitamins, such as vitamin D and vitamin C. We also ordered zinc and omega 3 capsules and other daily supplements. We were spending a small fortune on supplements for the whole family.”

Fortunately for Amanda and her husband, they didn’t need to be hospitalised and are now well on the road to recovery.

But it was tough, she says, and she learnt a lot along the way. To help other families that are going through a similar situation, Amanda has also documented her story and a couple of tips on her blog MotheringMe.

Here are some tips she wants to share with other families who may be in the same boat:
  • Getting Covid-19 is scary but try not to let the fear overwhelm you. Focus on the fact that the recovery rate in SA is high and remember, being anxious will only weaken your immune system further.
  • Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about supplements and vitamins to take to boost your immune system and take them religiously.
  • If you do develop Covid, don’t hide. There is no shame in it and if you don’t share your story, the weird stigma surrounding the disease will continue.