Nora Molongwe, 38, had just returned from a trip to Bournemouth to receive the Inspiring Young People 2020 Award for her SCD advocacy. The IYP Award was part of the Women’s Community Impact Awards. Nora had partied with friends to celebrate, and when she got home on Sunday 8th March, her chest was aflame with pain. Sickle Cell crises was afoot – or what?
The painkillers were no help, so the single mom took herself off to the Day Care Unit of King’s College Hospital, London, to see a doctor.
Her chest was clinically clear, but her hemoglobin level had dropped to dangerous levels.
After a unit of blood transfusion, Nora returned home. By Tuesday morning, she was unable to breathe well and was running a temperature of over 40°C. It was undoubtedly time to do a COVID-19 test, which a throat swab confirmed.
‘The doctors walked in wearing protective clothing and broke the news!’
Although the nurses kept reassuring the patient she would be fine, the only thought that kept recurring in her mind was, will I ever see my children again.
Nora was gravely ill in the first three days of treatment. But no matter how horrible she felt, she made sure to call home, speaking through her oxygen and face mask. The isolation worsened her brokenheartedness.
Three days into her treatment, Nora knew she would see her kids again. Her vital signs had returned to normal, and, best of all, she could breathe on her own!
Back At Home
It was late at night on Sunday 15th March, when Nora got back home from the hospital. Two of her eldest children were still awake. The other two, including a three year old daughter, were fast asleep.
‘I was overjoyed to see my kids again,’ Nora told SICKLE CELL NEWS.
The hospital had advised her to isolate at home for another five days. Now, how do you prevent a three year old from being all over a mom she had not seen for one week?
‘My daughter did not see anything unusual in my visage – the face mask and all,’ says Nora.
All the little girl saw was her mom and she rushed forward in a tight embrace.
Nora turned her face away and calmly drew close a child who refused to let go.
It was a heartbreakingly joyous reunion for the whole family.
Nowadays, anytime anyone coughed or sneezed at the Molongwe home, the reaction is – ‘don’t you come and give us COVID-19, please!’
It all seemed like a joke now, but Nora and the older children will never forget those few nightmare days when things could have turned whichever way.
Nora Molongwe is Founder/CEO, Emeli’s Smile Sickle Cell Foundation