My COVID-19 experience

An anonymous blogger shared her story with one of our funded partners about her ordeal during the Covid-19 pandemic. Part of the The Other Frontline project, highlighting untold stories from the pandemic.

I nearly lost everything during COVID-19

At 37 years, I thought life was getting better despite the usual known issues of racism and social inequalities I got used to over the years.

Educated to Master’s degree level, married to a loving man and blessed with three beautiful children. Three years ago, we set up a business as we were convinced this was a way out of office jobs where black women would work hard for a lifetime promotion that would eventually never come to reality. And even when this promotion happened, it was after several tribulations, that is, if you were strong enough to stay confident despite being devalued so many times by colleagues who most of the time were less experienced, but thought they were better because of their ethnicity or class status. My husband didn’t quit his job as we could not afford such a risk if the business didn’t make quick profit.

That was my world, but I had my family. People to fall back on, to have fun with and make sense of life. I found that balance with my mum and my siblings and mostly with my husband and my children to whom I dedicated any free time I had.

Then came COVID-19.

At first, I did not think much of it, as long as my family was safe, I was fine.

Our business took a small hit during the first lockdown, but as the optimist I have always been, I thought that soon after lockdown, we will make up for the loss. Needless to say, that our business had my full dedication considering we invested our life savings into it.

We re-opened our shop at some point and saw a light at the end of the tunnel. But the truth is that we did not have much choice other than holding onto hope in the midst of the storm. For our household expenses, my husband’s income was not enough to support the family. In addition to that, previous efforts to secure loans for the business had not been successful despite the Government-backed business loan schemes.

The shop, during the partial Lockdown 2.0, was not as viable as we had thought even though we made sales online. Worries and stress slowly replaced laughter, we faced uncertain days ahead of us not knowing what life would present us.

Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition the business stress, my mother contracted Coronavirus and was hospitalised.

At first, we did not think much of it, she had been in the hospital for more severe circumstances in the past, so we thought, “it’s nothing to worry about, she is our strong mum”, a mother who raised five children on her own as a single parent.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we could not visit her in hospital. That worried me even more, the thought of not seeing and supporting the woman who has always been there for me. And then we got the most dreaded call; she passed away and to make it more painful no family member was by her bedside. I had just lost my best friend and life stopped for a few months. In addition to that despair, the weight of solitude, not able to share that pain with loved ones was unbearable.

We had to close the shop for a month, and I thought I had the hardest time of my life. Then suddenly my husband became unwell and we all decided to get tested and sadly we all tested COVID-19 positive. My condition became critical and I was taken to hospital and was on oxygen for three weeks, thankfully not on a ventilator.

Light at the end of the tunnel.

A few weeks down the line, I have now recovered even though I still have regular pains. I’m not sure whether the pain is physical or emotional. One year into this pandemic, it has changed my life.

While in hospital, I had practical support in a way I never imagined I would receive help, especially during these difficult times. My husband and children were supported since they could not leave the house, with shopping, cooked food and toiletries. We were provided with relevant information on how we could get further support from the government for our business. I had been so withdrawn since my mother’s death that I could not make sense of things. We were overwhelmed with debts from the business.

I am grateful to have my immediate family and we still look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel.

This story was orginally published on The Other Front Line. People's Health Trust is a member of the Other Front Line Alliance. Find out more.