The whole world is confronting the lethal ripple of the novel coronavirus. It has left people in pain. It has percolated into every home and hamlet. The painful scenes of death and dilemma have been full of horribleness. In the second week of this month, I travelled to Srinagar from Amritsar due to a non-covid medical emergency at home. I spent a couple of days at a hospital in Srinagar. The next day, on April 14, I fell squeamish with cough, body ache, throat infection and weakness. Two days later, when the overall treatment failed, I went to the hospital where I was screened for COVID-19. As soon as my nasal swab was put onto the testing apparatus, it showed that I was positive. The next week was harrowing, although not severely affected as per the medical categorisation. Here is a snapshot of my experience from which I can say with certainty that yes, COVID-19 is a disease that exists and affects you deeply. The goal of this writing is to sensitize readers not to be in a mode of denial and that they should take the utmost care. On the rainy morning of April 17, I tested positive. Hastily, the doctors prescribed a few pills viz Paracetamol, Azithromycin, Vitamin C and Zinc. Cough syrup for the cough and a multi-vitamin for the weakness were also specified. Additionally, I was advised to go for strict seclusion of 14 days. The physician also said, “Take a nutritious diet. Eat well. Drink plenty of warm fluids and, above all, do not panic.” I reached home, latched myself up in my room and began doing as told. Although I was sick with symptoms and maladies, yet it was creamy until now. But, shortly, my condition exacerbated. On the second day of the quarantine—which was the fourth day of my illness—I experienced unusual health circumstances. First of all, I underwent sudden vertigo. My head started swimming. It was frightening dizziness that lingered for over an hour and repeated itself in a matter of hours. It made me anxious. I called my family members and some friends from the medical fraternity. Although my family members couldn’t come physically near me, they encouraged me through this. On the other side, the doctors said, “These are moderate symptoms being observed in Covid patients and there is no need to worry.” The doctors insisted upon monitoring some vitals: body temperature, oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure. “As long as your oxygen levels are above 92, you need not worry” the doctors added. I used to inspect my oxygen saturation now and then. Thank God, it remained well above 92 throughout. “Don’t think about it too much and keep your head up” physicians and family members continued to encourage. It is worth mentioning here that this virus takes a heavy toll on your mental well being. And if you are affected with indications like the ones I had, it becomes very arduous to be mentally strong. Any trivial condition leads to the belief that it may be caused by the virus. I was psychologically depressed. The following three days were dreadful. In addition to the frequent and repeating vertigoes, new complaints developed. These days were marked with the occurrence of on and off floods of fever, sweating, loss of the capability to focus and extreme perturbation. During those troubling moments, based on the suggestions I received, I tried to read books and write. But all this was for nothing. I couldn’t focus. I tried watching the famous Turkish series ‘Ertugrul’ but I couldn’t focus and relax. I couldn’t enjoy reading, writing or screen-time.
There’s no end to the story. In addition to these symptoms, in another couple of days, the virus affected my taste, smell and oral normality. Although my taste and smell did not completely vanish, now I could sense that it has weakened to a substantial level. Now, I had no appetite. All the tasty delicacies seemed like munching grass. I would keep on chewing a mouthful of rice and meat. I was not able to detect the taste. I couldn’t figure out when to swallow the chewed food. Sometimes I threw the chewed-up morsel of food in confusion. Likewise, my mouth dried up. There was a strange sensation of lifelessness in the frontal area of the tongue. Meanwhile, I tried every air freshener and chamber vaporizer to inspect my olfactory strength. It was also badly affected. Drastic body weakness combined with shivering hands, knees and feet were the order of the day. I couldn’t cut my fingernails with a clipper. The ailment was uncommon. It was for the first time that I had experienced such sickness. I have never in my life felt so disturbingly ill. It was terrible. It was distinct from any common disorder. Based on this experience, I am now certain that this viral pandemic is not fake. It is not a conspiracy. It exists. Until one does not contract the condition, this can look like a plot. But, once it happens, it is offensive, emotionally scandalous and sinister. With that in mind, I would like to suggest that the pandemic be treated seriously. The denial squad needs to be informed of its existence. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) must be followed in letter and spirit. That is the only way this can be deterred. My illness entirely altered my perspective towards pestilence. Now I am confident in suggesting measures. At the same time, please ensure to spread wisdom and assistance. Whatever you know about the disease, you must spread it to others. Helpline numbers, emergency supply of oxygen and medicine, telephonic support, etc must be kept convenient in case of any emergency. I would also emphasise the importance of mental and psychological support that a sufferer requires. It matters as much as medicine and maintenance. There is nothing more harmful to the general well-being of a COVID-19 patient than mental morosity. Support such patients psychologically. Encourage them. Pacify them. Tell them that they are well and that they are going to recover. Console them. Give them courage and confidence that they would battle and triumph over. This is of paramount importance. At the same time, we should avoid over-information about the pandemic. Do not just read everything about it. Do not watch so many newscasts that nothing except the fear of the scourge is what persists in your psyche. Take some time away from corona and WhatsApp. Avoid Covid screen time. This is for the healthy readers in general and covid patients in particular. During my days of the ailment, I ceased watching the news and as soon as I read the word Covid on my phone, I pressed the retreat button. Watch out and don’t be pernickety. We have seen plagues and catastrophes of all kinds. There have been more serious epidemics and pandemics in the past. Nothing killed people more than the diseases and wars of the past. That epoch is over. This too is going to go away. When all is said and done, life is a crusade and we must keep up the struggle. Please, you have to watch out. Stay safe.
(The author is MBA, NET, IBPS. He works in the middle management of a reputed PSU. The views are personal.)