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How Dr Mathobela Matjekane fell ill with Covid-19, not once, but twice

Dr Mathobela Matjekane Picture: Supplied

Dr Mathobela Matjekane Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 1, 2021


Medical doctor turned entrepreneur, Dr Mathobela Matjekane, 40, is the woman behind Cape Town based CliniMed, a private healthcare facility which offers primary health care, dental health care, wellness programmes, optometry as well as aesthetic solutions.

Matjekane says she has always known that she wanted to become a doctor and there was no alternative.

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During the pandemic, Matjekane has been working as a front-line worker and even contacted the coronavirus twice.

IOL Lifestyle spoke to Matjekane to hear about life during the pandemic and how she navigated as a medical professional.

Please share both your experiences of contracting and recovering from coronavirus?

I contracted the virus during the first wave and the second wave where it was announced that there were new strains found to have developed.

The first diagnosis was not as hectic as the second one.

I had mild symptoms, fever, high temperature, I had a headache and was exhausted.

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I treated that with antibiotics and every vitamin recommended to help fight the virus and boost my immune system.

The second wave was hectic, it was heavy on the body, I had difficulties with breathing, intense exhaustion and body aches. I had to bring an oxygen tank home to help me breathe. It took 20 days to recover from the 2nd wave.

How did contracting the virus affect your family?

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It was during the holiday season, we had plans to travel and then we had to put everything on hold.

Apart from that, I was worried about their safety – I didn’t disclose to my kids to minimise their fear. And I was right, they were worried and they thought I was dying.

So, I had to focus on getting better with the added stress of their anxiety. My kids were not tested because they didn’t have symptoms.

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My husband was exposed but didn’t experience severe symptoms.

We have been in the pandemic for a year, what have you learnt during this time?

Professionally, I was reminded of the importance of life.

As doctors we are trained to prepare for the inevitable.

Covid-19 was unforeseen and you couldn’t have prepared for it emotionally.

I was also reminded how fortunate we are to have public healthcare in this country, although it comes with its faults ‘arguably’, it carried many as private hospitals were reported to have collapsed in the beginning.

Health resources shortages were highlighted, we don’t have enough doctors which forced doctors in practice to work insanely long hours.

We don’t have enough hospitals – Khayelitsha Hospital has to look after the +1 million residents in that area alone.

It challenged the norms. We couldn’t just send patience to hospitals, patience with non Covid-19 related procedures.

We had to follow strict processes under emergencies, this was to protect the patients from being exposed to the virus.

Even with Covid-19 patients we couldn’t just send them to hospital, we had to ask them to try and treat symptoms at home. We could only send patience with serve situations.

Personally, I am grateful to have survived this nightmare.

I also felt the need to assist in the fight more ways than just seeing patients on appointments hence I created videos online and in indigenous languages to assist those without access to medical aid.

This definitely brought me closer to my faith, I prayed for my families well-being every day, I am still lucky to have both my parents.

What was your experience with the Covid vaccine, any notable side effects?

Apart from me being scared of needles, which is ironic because I inject patience every day.

My experience was a process – we received emails as health professionals to register.

We then received verification and approval.

You received an appointment date and facilities to visit.

At the facilities they followed a strict Covid-19 protocol, social distance, masks etc.

They injected me and gave me at least 30 minuets to see if you are developing any immediate side effects.

From there I went home. On that night I didn’t feel anything except for the pain on the side of the injection.

24 hours after the injection, my body felt very tired.

I was exhausted. I had an underlining/ subliminal headache, mild fever and body ache of which I slept it off.

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