On February 17, Busia senator Amos Wako was admitted to a city hospital for under intensive care after contracting Covid-19.
He would stay there for three weeks. The feeling of being helpless and subdued, the pain, and the close brush with death turned his world upside down, he had to revise his priorities and what mattered in life—it was a reflection time.
Wako, 74, told KBC in an interview that was aired last night that the virus knows no wealth, power and accomplishments.
Throughout the 45-minute interview, the former powerful Attorney General repeatedly said: “It is a harrowing experience I would not wish on anybody. I almost died.”
At the hospital, he was put on oxygen round the clock, with doctors and nurses closely monitoring him. Their instructions scared life out of him, he said.
They advised him not to remove the oxygen tubes. If he failed to comply even for two minutes, he would die.
“My worry was that suppose I sleep and they (the tubes) come out, and the nurse does not come in time, I would not wake up,” Wako said.
Within a few hours of his diagnosis, he believed he was going to die and so he started preparing for the afterlife. He had three spiritual books with him—he read all of them.
“For a few hours or so, I thought ‘this is my end.’ My end has come. That’s why I had to go spiritual, to prepare myself for where I may find myself if everything else failed.
“I was now preparing myself for the after[life],” a reflective Wako said.
Wako said the books decluttered his mind on what really mattered in life. He revised his priorities. He was already preoccupied with what his previous actions portended in his afterlife.
“What mattered were [questions like] ‘if I got to the next world, what have I done? what have I not done? and what have I achieved?” he said.
“Whom have I wronged? I may not have time to ask for forgiveness and make amends—I prayed to God for more time to make those amends…
“I also thought about those who may have wronged me, some of whom have died and I did not seek amends with them.”
Wako said the lonely experience at the hospital gave him the perfect time to review his life “and I was ready to go”. It changed his perspective of life.
“Having gone through it and been close to death, anybody who’s gone through this disease, their perspective changes.”
He said he has changed, adding that he no longer looks at life the same way.
“There are a number of areas where my perspectives have changed. My priorities have changed,” he added.
With the eternal perspective gained, the fear of death evaporated and he felt liberated and content to sign off from the world, the lawmaker said.
His experience started on February 15 when attending the burial of former Cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae and later former Garissa senator Yusuf Haji the same day. He would feel strangely tired; could not walk to his car and struggled remembering names of people he knew well.
He said he had been experiencing the virus symptoms like cough, breathlessness and intermittent fever but ignored them because he had been taking immune boosters, ginger and lemon concoctions and other over-the-counter drugs said to be effective against the virus.
“I dismissed the feelings. I thought my underlying diabetic condition was the one misbehaving. It could be anything but Covid,” he said.
He also suffered heightened hallucination, at one point, he said, waking up at 3am or 4am and complaining to his son why it was morning yet there was no sun.
“That’s when my son said I needed urgent hospitalisation.”
So two days later, he checked into a city hospital. To his surprise, the doctors told him he would not go back home—he had to be hospitalised. He begged for even an hour to be allowed to go back to his home to collect some books to keep him busy in his hospital bed.
After some long haggling, they agreed but only on condition that they would take him in an ambulance and get him back as quickly as possible.
“That’s when my thinking changed. I could not be afforded even one hour to get back to my house, collect what I wanted and voluntarily surrender myself at the hospital,” Wako said.
As the ambulance bulldozed its way on traffic-jammed roads with a blaring siren, Wako wondered whether people knew he was the one being rushed. Accompanied by health personnel in white gowns, he arrived at his house. He got in, picked his belongings, with the medics in tow, and soon they were back in hospital.
“The doctors said if I took two or three more days before going for the checkup, I would have dropped dead. I missed death by a whisker,” he said.
“I would not be here today. I would be a former attorney general who once lived.”
As the treatment progressed, the medics came to a decision that he be injected with steroids to strengthen his lungs, which were almost collapsing. He said this made his treatment journey turn for the worse as it exacerbated his underlying diabetic condition.
His sugar level ran amok, shooting beyond measurement. The doctors stopped the steroids and started focusing on diabetes. They almost put him on dialysis but decided against it, he said.