International Women’s Day: Tributes to gritty women who helped fight COVID-19 in Oman

Oman Monday 07/March/2022 21:53 PM
By: Times News Service
International Women’s Day: Tributes to gritty women who helped fight COVID-19 in Oman
Sobhi Ann John, Hospital employee at Al Hayat Hospital

Muscat: Women medical professionals in Oman have shared their experiences on what it was like to help those who were admitted to hospital for COVID-19 as well as when they themselves were infected with the disease.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Times of Oman spoke to three women in the country who faced the pandemic…and won.

Sobhi Ann John,  Hospital employee
The coronavirus, of course, does not distinguish between those who work in hospitals and those who are admitted there. After being blessed with a baby boy on 21 June, 2021, Sobhi Ann John contracted COVID a few days later, and tested positive for the virus on the 26th.

While the other members of her family were able to shake off COVID with minor symptoms, the virus showed her little mercy: Just three days after undergoing her C-section to bring her little bundle of joy into the world, Sobhi, an employee of Al Hayat Hospital, was rushed back into intensive care where she spent 12 days alone, fighting a bitter battle against the dreaded disease. Even during her darkest hour, however, there was someone who did not leave her side.

“It is often said that God comes to us in disguise and that is what happened to me as well,” she said. “I had a severe urinary sepsis along with continuous vomiting, severe diarrhoea, and to make it worse, bilateral pneumonia.”

Her constant vomiting also caused intense pain to her C-section incision, and the virus had debilitated her to such an extent that she could not get up from her bed.

Despite Sobhi believing she had seen her family and held her newborn son in her hands for the last time, her well-wishers sent a continuous stream of positive messages, assuring her that she indeed had the fortitude to overcome COVID.

“I told myself I would not give up, because I wanted to go back home and be with my newborn,” she recalled. “On the eighth day of my admission, the medicines I was administered finally began working and I showed signs of improvement.”
Despite being in unbearable pain, Sobhi knew she needed to get walking again so that she could soon leave the confines of her bed.

Forcing herself to walk, she made a little bit of progress with each passing day, choosing not to give up in the face of overwhelming odds.

On the 12th day of her stay in hospital, her doctors told her the three words that just a few days ago, she never thought she would hear: “Go home, girl.”

Apart from the physical and mental stress COVID took on her body, Sobhi was left so weakened by the disease that she lost 15 kilos and needed assistance to walk even a few steps. Her success story, however, is not down to just one person, but many.

“With the support of my family, especially my mom, and my friends and the doctors and nurses who treated me, along with the blessings of the Almighty, I was able to once again walk on the path of life,” she said.

Suma Mamachan, ICU staff nurse
Suma Mamachan, an ICU staff nurse at Badr Al Sama’a Group of Hospitals, refused to shy away from her duty to help her fellow human beings, despite being pregnant with her second child during the second wave of the pandemic.
In doing her duty during times of extreme duress, Suma proved to not just herself, but to women across the globe that when there is a will, there is always a way. She did not give up her post despite being pregnant and continued to nurse COVID patients with full zeal, enthusiasm and devotion.

“Nurses are the main support staff as doctors treat patients,” she said. “My team was responsible for providing specialised care to COVID-19 patients in the ICU. So for us, it was a dual job. We not only had to ensure the safety of patients, relatives and others, but also look after ourselves. “I had to stand in as a family member, as a counsellor, a mentor and as someone who could provide physical and emotional support to them,” she admitted.

“In some cases, dying patients couldn’t even be with their loved ones. We would hold their hands and pray for them. Through it all, I learnt the values of responsibility, care, love, kindness and courage.”

Zakia Al Wali,  ICU staff nurse
Another warrior who refused to be cowed down by the pandemic was Zakia Al Wali, an ICU staff nurse at Khoula Hospital. Having worked there for more than five years, Zakia was ever-present throughout the pandemic. She admitted that the stresses it caused among people was not easy to deal with for the hospital staff, patients, family members and anyone else involved in battling the pandemic.

Taking out time to praise her staff for ensuring safety to the patients as well as providing care and emotional support, what remains with Zakia during her experiences, is the attitude of another pregnant woman patient, who she described as a “warrior”.

“This was probably the first case of a pregnant woman our hospital was dealing with, and I remember the patient showing strong will power when it came to fighting the disease,” she recalled. “She fought to recover and managed to get out of the ICU and had her baby. It was a very heartwarming story.”