As I finish my medicine course, the covid fight ends, and we win!!
Updated: May 27, 2021
As a family, we did not step out for weeks, no one came, but we still contracted the virus. The virus is airborne and probably manufactured. In 2004, SARS-CoV-1 was first, and within four months, virologists were able to identify the carrier. Sixteen years later, SARS-CoV-2 attacks, even after 15 months, we don’t know who the carrier was. Please read this technical article that is causing ripples globally. https://thebulletin.org/2021/05/the-origin-of-covid-did-people-or-nature-open-pandoras-box-at-wuhan/
All hell broke loose.
My elder son, who is seven years, developed a sudden stomachache with a 100-degree Fahrenheit fever on 19th April. Fortunately, he recovered within 24 hours post his first symptom.
My wife indicated fatigue and myalgia with an extreme headache on 20th April. This was the first symptom, so we started to evaluate her treatment plan. Our family doctor was hospitalized himself due to covid, so the local doctor was not available.
Most of the doctors were available after 4-5 days and only via video chats etc. We started on medicines based on the guidance of a family friend doctor (Dubai). This was assuming that my wife has contracted Covid 19, and we will plan a video conference with a local doctor if required.
We got the testing done on 23rd April. Getting someone to collect blood sample was a big challenge. I had to ask my father to coordinate collection (my dad’s friend owns a laboratory) at some centre that was 25 km away. By the time someone came for the blood collection, I had developed a 101-degree Fahrenheit fever myself. Other than RT-PCR, we also got the other blood tests done for my wife and me. The blood report came the next day. My wife’s blood reports were a little off with Covid positive, but mine was fine with negative Covid 19.
Please note that on Day 1, the blood reports are usually satisfactory. You may still get the tests done to have a baseline.
We ignored my test results and assumed that as a family, we had contracted Covid 19. My wife’s condition was deteriorating with a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Since my reports were acceptable, I assumed that my ailment is less severe than my wife’s. However, all covid 19 related medicines started with Ivermectin, Dolo, etc.
As a family, we focused on her recovery, given that her CRP and D-Dimers were high. We also got the HRCT scan done on Day 5. Fortunately, the report was satisfactory. While all this was happening, my fever levels increased every day, with the highest touching 103.7 degrees Fahrenheit on 28th April (my Day 5). My family friend doctor (Dubai) suggested blood tests and HRCT scan, but I couldn’t push myself. In a nuclear setup with two young boys, it was logistically challenging to go to a radiologist for HRCT.
Every passing day was a hope that things will get better, but it was just getting worse. Since my wife contracted the virus before me, most family members were focused on her health, including me.
Day 9, so far, my tests were not done, HRCT was still pending, and home-related logistic challenge continued. I asked my father (with a heavy heart) to come and help. You don’t want to expose anyone knowing that you are infected with a highly contiguous virus. At that time, I had no choice but to have someone over who can manage kids.
On day 10 (2nd May), my wife drove me to the HRCT scan place. I was already experiencing shortness of breath; HRCT was done, and the report was shared. 70% of the lungs had stopped working (CT 17/25). A case for hospitalization.
Mistake: HRCT/Blood Tests should be done on Day 5/6 and not Day 10. Especially when your body’s temperature is on the rise, which indicates the inflammation is spreading.
On the evening of 2nd May, there was chaos in the broader family. Everyone (except me) remotely got on calls (Delhi, Mumbai, USA, Dubai…) to understand the future course of action. Everyone realized that we are maybe running too close. In ordinary times, hospital admission and a few days of stay would take care, but oxygen and hospital beds were just not available in Delhi NCR.
We arranged for a nurse who started with intervenes injections of blood thinning, steroid, and antiviral. While many friends and family were visiting hospitals, contacting hospitals, and arranging for a bed. Through a lot of pressure from the right people, Max Saket agreed to provide the bed. The condition was that patient will not need any oxygen because they did not have any ventilators.
Within an hour, I reached the hospital and was taken to my room. The admission was a stroke of pure luck, and it just happened (RTPCR was negative, the hospital initially said ‘No’ for admission, but again the right people spoke and got it fixed). In Covid facilities, irrespective of the patient’s condition, the attendant is not allowed, so pretty much the patient is on his own. By the time I reached the hospital, my oxygen level had dropped from 92/93 to 86. They put me on an oxygen concentrator (8 units), I felt better since I could breathe.
There were passing thoughts of coming too close to the finish line. I spoke to my wife; she was all in tears with immense fear. After a doctor’s visit and blood sample collection, I was diagnosed with Respiratory Failure – Covid Pneumonia Severe Category. While I had shortness of breath, chest pain also started.
It was 1 AM. No medicine was given except oxygen through the concentrator. I closed my eyes and started with my Vipassana session. My regular practice at home helped me get connected quickly. As I passed through each consciousness level, I started feeding positive thoughts and then connected with an absolute peace of mind. I opened my eyes. It was 2 AM. The session was excellent. I switched off all the notifications, no news, no social media, no negative information.
The following day, the pulmonary specialist called me to confirm the attendant’s contact. He called up my wife to inform her that my condition was not good (CRP 225, D Dimer 1200 IL6 32), and they do not have a lot of options. This statement was enough to scare everyone in the family, especially my wife. Kids have a psychological way to understand things somehow. My younger one (3 years) stopped eating and cried the whole day, while the elder one (7 years) created a shell around him and stopped talking.
On day 11, I was given my first dose of Remdesivir, which continued for the next five days. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the Tocilizumab dose being given. I have a personal view that Tocilizumab was the key injection in my specific case since I have autoimmune disorder Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Tocilizumab is used to treat IL6 and is seen as very effective for RA patients.
Yes, you got it right, 70% of lungs not working, autoimmune disorder Rheumatoid Arthritis, shortness of breath, and chest pain. I had it all :)
On day 11, a late-night CT scan was done to understand the damage to the lungs.
The following day report came, and I still remember I could not stop my tears. The levels came down from 17/25 to 14/25, a significant improvement. The glassing in pulmonary was damaged but was associated with only covid infection. On day 12, I was optimistic and started thinking about when I am going back and meeting kids. The two days spent in the hospital were filled with fighting an emotional battle without dropping the positivity hat.
On day 13, I also received plasma therapy.
Thanks to all the well-wishers who managed to arrange plasma in a short time. I needed two units, but the family ensured four units as a backup. As I watched cookery videos in the hospital, family & friends were doing all the leg work and/or remote coordination.
I will always be indebted to known and so many unknown people who showered their blessings on me, and I genuinely believe that’s how the universe works. When so many people pray, the universe listens, and anything can happen.
I removed my oxygen mask on Day 14 and started breathing naturally. Oxygen levels were holding up at 95, so I was getting better. The doctor came after a few hours and turned off the oxygen completely. I was still on heavy medication in saline water for 9-10 hours a day. The rest of the time, I use to watch cookery shows or Delhi 6 hidden gems.
All my vitals improved, and I was discharged on Day 19 with a tapered down list of steroids to be taken for the next 15 days.
I still remember I could not see anything when I came out of the hospital, unable to walk due to cramps, and I was in a total zombie state. This is what drugs do to you. They save but make you empty from inside.
The first week was complete isolation that I observed. I focused a lot on a high protein diet and physical movement (after week 1). After 15 days, I can now walk 6 km plus every day; spirometer, all three balls are at the top (in the hospital, I could not lift one). Although due to a heavy dose of steroid, I have developed hives and gastrointestinal issue, this will phase out gradually on its own.
The other day my elder one (who generally shows that he is so strong) came to my room and said, “Papa, I want to talk to you”. I asked him, “what do you want to talk about? “Come here, sit with me”. He said, “Papa when you had gone to the hospital, one part of my mind was telling me that you may not come back. I got terrified and sad, but I never showed this to Arhaan (little one) else he would have been difficult to manage” “papa, please don’t go to the hospital again”. We both cried for a bit, and then he went to his room.
Lessons for Covid 19 treatment
Do not ignore Day 5 symptoms. If they are increasing, talk to your doctor immediately. Your doctor may put you on steroid and blood thinning. You will be able to avoid hospitalization.
Do not take steroids over the counter. Consult doctor.
Do not fall prey to some drugs etc. You don’t know whether a particular drug is helpful in your case or not.
Act fast. Two days of delay will make 2/3rd of your lungs stop working. Another two days will make it go to 90 per cent and probably cardiac arrest.
Lessons for life
Be in a positive state of mind. During 9 days of hospital stay, I had seen 25 deaths around me. Not easy to come out, but you got to push yourself and move on.
The entire hospitalization experience has made me so humble that I feel everyday life is a blessing. We must acknowledge every day that each breath is a blessing. One fine day it will end, but before that, make each breath count.
There are so many good human beings because of whom this world continues.
Money is just an overrated aspect of life; the essential fundamental element is ‘just living’.