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MEDICAL STUDENT PERSPECTIVE ON COVID – 19

TWO SIDES TO MY COIN:

I have always known I am not a stay-at-one-place person. I crave new surroundings. I want to constantly be on the move, I guess you can call me itchy legs. The pandemic came to put a stamp on this belief. The feeling of uncertainty hitting so hard. What will happen tomorrow? Will everyone catch COVID-19 at the end of it all. I will tell you my thoughts at the start, in the long run, everyone will get COVID-19. The weak ones will be swept away and people like myself with vibrant healthy immune systems will remain. More like the natural selection phenomenon.

All around we heard of our health systems in distress and I appreciate all those people who put themselves at the frontline. If we still lived in the days of superman, superman would have a huge gang.

I will speak of my own personal experience as a student made to stay at home and out of school by circumstances. I am not a pessimist so I will speak of both sides starting with the negatives followed by positives because I love good endings. I mean, who doesn’t?

Having to go over the same routine for nine months continuously was detrimental to my mental health. All my life, I have never stayed at home continuously for two months. In fact, make it one and a half months. It is always school and school and school with small breaks in between. Even then, I get to split those small breaks. Two weeks at home with family and one week at grandma’s then back to school. I don’t dispute that it’s was a traumatic time for the essential workers, grown-ups who have been laid off their jobs, or even the hospitality business owners who underwent huge financial losses. But can we please pause for a moment and acknowledge that students, forced to stay away from school, others having to live with abusive families also underwent mental trauma and depression?

At first, it was okay. A break from school, a much-needed one. With time, the numbers got worse, and going back to school wasn’t an option. Save lives first then all other things can follow. I know everybody does this thing where you calculate your timelines. You get into campus in 2017, you do the math, and know by 2021 you will be done with school ready to start the next chapter of life. Say 2022 to give an allowance for any strike in between because you really never know in these public universities of ours. But come 2021 nothing is in the vicinity.

Routine affected me so badly during the last months of staying at home. I would argue with everybody in the house, even my younger sister who by the way we click so well. It would be me doing my household chores in the morning, being on my phone, preparing lunch, back to my phone, preparing dinner, showering, and locking myself in my bedroom by 7 pm, every day. There were days I didn’t say a word to some people in the same house. I was tired. I wanted something new. Somewhere to release my energy. Were it not for some other side things I got to engage in, I nearly went nuts. I didn’t like my environment. I picked my phone one day called my dad and said, “Dad, please give me permission to go somewhere else. If I continue staying in this home, I might go mad. I think I need a break.” The next day, I was packing and going to my grandma’s. It was all fun like it was at home in the beginning until my clock established, we were in a routine again. I wanted out again. I guess for real I am not meant to stay in one environment for long. I want spice.

But there were really good things that happened. Things I am really grateful for. Looking back at it, I would have never gotten a chance to do those things and do them in the manner I did were it not for the pandemic.

For starters, I wrote more, I poured out myself into poetry, I got an urge to take care of my hair more and I built my leadership skills through working in different organizations. I danced a little more in front of the mirror before bedtime and loved my body even more.

Something else warmed my heart more, the willingness of Kenyans to assist their fellow citizens.

As I wait for my second dose of vaccine, I hope we all embrace science and keep ourselves safe. The first dose knocked me off, the next twenty-four hours were so hard on my body but I am eager for the second one. I want to protect people around me and I want them to protect me.

By Laura Nyiha

Kenyatta University

lauranyihamwaura@gmail.com