Wednesday, 12 November 2014

My Experience of Ebola

Since the Ebola outbreak I've read quite a few blogs by people here in Sierra Leone - my experience differs quite a lot to what I am reading in other people blogs. I've also seen and read a lot in the media and what I'm seeing here is vastly different to what people are seeing on TV and in newspapers in the UK.

A lot of the blogs I'm reading are by medical people - so that's a major difference for a start, they are here to help people affected with Ebola.....while part of the reason I'm here it to help people not to get it.

I've not really had any first hand experience of Ebola, four people that I know have contracted it - two survived and two passed away, but I had no contact with them while they had the virus.

I've read in some blogs that all bars and restaurants are closed - that's not true, some have closed yes, but by no means all of them. I don't know if organisations are telling their people that the bars and restaurants are closed to prevent them from venturing out....but these places that have remained open could really do with some support and customers!

The news I was seeing while I was in the UK would have people believe that there are dead bodies on every street corner.......well I live on the east side of the capital, Freetown, and I've not seen one dead body abandoned in the street - I pray it stays that way.

Obviously a lot of the media coverage is showing the Ebola centres and I have no experience of them whatsoever - what I see is everyday life, family life, people trying to get by - life for a lot of the families I work with was a struggle before Ebola - now it's almost impossible.

For me the biggest change and challenge is the no touching rule - it's so difficult to get used to the ABC rule.....Avoid Body Contact - it's not natural and it feels very isolating.  I quickly got used to the continuous hand washing....and I always smell of either chlorine or dettol.

For me just feeling slightly off colour is enough to make me go over and over any possible contact I might have had with people which could have unwittingly exposed me to the virus - I'm sure this is the same for a lot of people. I have a headache today - most probably because I'm a little dehydrated, or because I've been working on the computer and I've not fully admitted to myself yet that I need glasses. In normal times I would just take some tablets and brush it of, but now I'm checking my temperature every couple of hours just in case.
I know that I've not been exposed to EVD......I don't touch people, I'm always washing my hands with chlorinated water and using hand sanitiser, I've not been around anyone who is sick, I've defiantly not had contact with a corpse........but all the same I'll be relieved when this headache is gone.

When I ask people what is the worst thing for them personally about the Ebola outbreak the main answers I get is lack of money for food and the schools and colleges being closed. The worst thing for me about it is seeing people I care about struggle and knowing that I can't help them all.

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