Back after a brush with COVID 19.
This is the first person account by Yogesh Damle, a former Journalist and Communications Specialists, on how he battled COVID 19.
Premature to call it a victory, but existing protocols emphatically state that the worst is over.
Going awry : The infection most likely happened between May18-22, on one of the weekly/ten-day trip to stock perishables. Can’t pinpoint the instance of contamination, but it’s surely the local market.
Friday evening, malaise sets in. Dismissed it as an effect of heat exposure, and hung it out through Saturday, already self-isolating.
Sunday saw a fever surge of 102.9°. A profound loss of smell and taste severe enough to blur differences between tea and hot water set in. With no local OPDs available, consulted through telemedicine and commenced a protocol course of antibiotics and antipyretics.
Monday was a trip to the municipal health centre. The facilities were pitifuly overwhelmed. Staff flustered, hapless, YET (a big yet) giving their best on war footing.
Two days of follow-up failed to yield test results. Turned out that my swab was ‘invalidated on technical grounds’. Since I was top drained for a second trip, the health officials were kind enough to arrange a home collection of samples of family and self. Fever kept oscillating between 102° and 100° with sponging and antipyretics.
Two days later, I was told of my positive status telephonically, fortunately, the family was confirmed to be negative. Since the symptoms seemed to be in check, MCGM officials concurred that home quarantine was the safest bet. Hperverse, the fever breached 102.5° that very night, with a shallow breath.
From 2:00 to 8:00 AM that intervening night, I scouted for possible hospitals with help from my office HR team. The last hope emerged in a neighbourhood hospital, discharging some cases later that day. After sharing reports (which did need another followup), I was given a timeslot to show up at the hospital. With no ambulance available, an emergency aggregator service with partitions and touch-free entry came in handy.
At the hospital – In absence of a defined COVID19 treatment, symptomatic treatment was the strategy. Medicines as per ICMR/MCGM protocol were being administered. Antibiotics, antipyretics, antacids, cough medications, a balanced diet, monitoring blood oxygen saturation (SPO2), temperature were the main interventions.
SPO2 below 95% is a red flag. I did touch 93% once and the medical team promptly took arterial blood sample to confirm it was a one-off machine reading error.
By my sixth day under institutional care, my symptoms ceased to aggravate, and I was 12 days into symptom onset. New protocols deem asymptomatic patients on 12th day as non-replicating, non-contagious and I was eligible for discharge, with strict conditions of an extended quarantine and medication.
As I lie in bed, I rise only for bio breaks and clear my tracks and surfaces touched with disinfectant spray (Alcohol and Benzalkonium Chloride), and mask myself whenever a family member inevitably crosses path.
During this entire period, whether awake or asleep, lying prone (face down) is of utmost importance. Exertion and waking unnecessarily is very harmful. (I’m taking some time to document this, for it may help someone)
Keep your cool. At the slightest of doubt, go into self isolation assuming the worst-case scenario and watch your symptoms. If they get worse, promptly get tested and treated. My immunity is nothing to write home about. With an annual health event, my recovery from COVID is more than a reassuring possibility. If your immunity is any stronger, don’t give in to the fear of COVID.
The patient on my next bed was a grandpa in his seventies, off from an ICU to a general bed. He would be on his way home by the time you read this. (Friday, June 5). Age alone is not a factor to worry about. Weigh your comorbidities and spring into action at the slightest of doubt. Well begun is half done.
For those on the brink of uncertainty
Keep your cool- Health facilities and frontliners are badly overwhelmed. Yet, they’re giving their best. A late result only means they’re facing far too many people like you, and noone is holding anything against you or hiding anything from you. Follow-up patiently, courteously, for you’re alone accountable for your well-being. Your contacts and access will only hold you in good stead upto a point, but it all boils down to luck beyond that.
The ground situation is indeed that busy. If someone’s going out of their way to help you, you’re best advised to keep your panic and tantrum reflexes in control. Panic, coercion, urges to tweet and creating a digital scene is definitely not going to help. (If you do have those energies, maybe rethink your and the system’s priorities for the more deserving). Save every ounce of physical and mental energy. Everyone’s giving their best. Rest assured. Don’t snowball everyone’s stress- which only fuels the infection.
For COVID suspects
1) Do invest into a pulse oximeter. The infrared sensor sits tight on your figure and measures your blood O2 level. For better results, amble back and forth in your room for 3 minutes before taking a reading.
2) Do your lungs a favour and lie prone, face down, for every conscious second.
3) Have your proteins.
4) Some effect on your lungs is inevitable. Whether or not it’s reversible will be revealed in a followup. Medical science is optimistic of a near-total revival.
5) Apparently, new protocols DO NOT mandate a second swab for general patients. If your symptoms are in check on the 12th day, you’re deemed non-contagious. Present PCR tests only identify genetic material of the virus in your blood, but can’t say if the virus is active, dormant, attenuated or dead. Pray that your symptoms do not return.
Distancing and other precautions, however boring and overcautious they may appear, stand between safety and peril. Nothing in the outside world is worth a knock at heavens, your savings, your loved ones’ peace or everything that meant life to yoy. Not your vegetables, not your milk, not even essentials which can be home delivered.
When all seemed to fail, there were angels who showed the way ahead. Mrs. Ashwini Bhide and her team- Mr. Kishore Gandhi and Dr. Angre, Dr. Sandeep Gore and team Fortis, Dr. Amar Walavalkar and Dr. Amod Limaye, my office colleagues and HR teams, my family- Amruta, Mom, Dad, Vinayataai, my godbrother Suyash, baba’s friend- Dr. Shrirang Deshpande, Mrs. Swati Sathe and her daughters- I’m bound by your help and immeasurable benevolence till my last breath and nothing can reciprocate that. That perpetual debt is my second lease of life.