We wanted to take the time to share a story from one of our own Equally Well Backbone team members who recently accessed the antiviral medication after she tested positive for COVID-19.

This story highlights the importance of talking to a GP as soon as there is a positive test result. Mental health and addiction issues are listed in the health conditions that are included in the access criteria for oral antiviral medications. Your GP will also be able to consider how the antiviral medication may interact with any other prescribed medications, such as clozapine or benzodiazepines.

Accessing antirviral medications

“The RAT’s test is positive. I’m 65, I have a pre-existing lung disease, I am a person with a mental health and addiction background, I am Māori, and I am overweight. All conducive to the suggestion I have been handed a death sentence.

The flu-like symptoms are becoming more real. I can feel the heaviness in my chest and my right lung has been aching all-night. The harking of the wet cough along with the build-up of phlegm is beginning to weigh on my wairua.
My head is heavy, and I just lie back waiting for the call of my tupuna. This is out of my control.

I haven’t spoken to anyone and not interested in talking to anyone either. I prefer to be left alone.

I have a prior zoom hui, so not to disappoint I connect in that space. Assuming I will act normal, I act anything but. Depression hangs over me, tears come forth, words of despair as I share my news spouts out like a bubbling underground yucky spring.

I had just attended a tangi, days before in which this illness enveloped me. I was sad from the loss of my cousin, which also reaffirmed the loss of my father, four years prior.

My friends saw and felt my confusion and moved my instinct to embrace Papatuanuku, the earth, and seek hope.

While surrounded by my network whānau wahine toa who verbatim reminded me of my rights as well as the criteria I match which would allow my access to anti-viral covid meds.

As I shared the words of wisdom with the nurse at my GP practice that was passed to me by my whānau wahine toa on the criteria etc., she seemed unsure but said would contact me the next day.

Not feeling easily comforted by the nurse’s kōrero, I was unsure what the ultimate outcome would provide.

However, “hallelujah” mountains were moved, and the anti-viral medication became part of my five-day program.  The medication is split into two separate entities in the foils. Three morning and evening, I was schooled when to take the medication, the pharmacist was open to my patai (questions) and all was now well in my world.

The final hiccup of this experience is that my psychiatric medication was tweaked to a lesser strength whilst taking the anti-viral covid medication. Nervousness of this tweak did minimally impact on me.

However, armed with all the knowledge required which included the nurse, my GP, and my pharmaceutical support I moved through my ten-day Covid experience safe and secure in the knowledge that my death sentence had been averted.

I interacted with my whānau daily through emails. By keeping them informed my links were maintained and reinforced. I was not alone. I was loved. I was cared for emotionally as well as physically.

I played puzzle games and read Matauranga Māori, Te Ao books. These feed my hinengaro oranga, wairua which in turn worked together to heal me. I also know without a doubt my tupuna never left me alone either.”