From reporting on the pandemic to suffering from Covid
A scribe’s first-person account: Changes are evident in the doctors and paramedics approach as were seen actively engaging with patients, five months ago they were hesitant of interacting with patients least they contracted the deadly infectionUpdated: Oct 27, 2020, 18:52 IST
On October 2, Jammu and Kashmir’s Covid had tally crossed 77,000 and I submitted a report detailing how the pandemic was wrecking havoc in the Union Territory. Little did I know that two days later, I, too, would become part of the mounting statistics.
I had been reporting about the disease from the ground since its outbreak. From the moment the first case was reported in Kashmir, I started taking precautions such as wearing a mask and using sanitisers. In no time, social distancing became my new normal. In fact, I was so cautious that friends would good-naturedly poke fun at me.
In the course of work, I went into Covid centres to report about the disease and patients. I travelled to different parts of Kashmir to cover stories and managed to successfully evade the virus till the end of September.
In the last week of September, I met many people and even attended a function. Though I took all precautions, on the night of September 29, I developed fever and body aches. On the recommendation of a doctor friend, I started taking Azithromycin and Paracetemol, which brought some relief. The doctor friend told me to continue the course for three to four days and to isolate myself.
As my fever subsided, I continued to work from home. I remained isolated as I was worried about my aged parents contracting the infection. For three days my condition was stable and oxygen saturation was almost 94 to 95 but on the fourth day my health deteriorated and my temperature shot to 100°C-101°C.
Assured of an ‘easy’ recovery
On October 4, I went for a rapid antigen test, which returned positive. The doctor performed an x-ray and a series of other tests on me. The x-ray showed signs of pneumonia in both my lungs so I was put on FabiFlu tablets as well as injectables to treat the pneumonia.
Doctors sent me home hoping that my condition would improve in three to four days. My oxygen saturation was now between 93 and 94 and doctors assured me I would ‘easily’ defeat Covid. Initially, I, too, was confident that I will be able to beat the virus. However, as the sickness stretched for three weeks, I went through bouts of depression where chances of recovery seemed bleak and I would worry about my young children, wife and aged parents.
‘Hospitalised in the middle of the night’
On the night of October 7, my temperature rose to 103°C and oxygen saturation dropped from 90 to 84. Doctors suggested immediate hospitalisation. I was admitted to the Covid Centre of Government Medical College Baramulla, in the dead of the night. A paramedic hooked me to oxygen which helped with my uneasiness but the fever was consistent. In the morning a team of doctors examined me and put me on Remdesivir injections.
Now a Covid patient myself, I was experiencing what I had been reporting. Inside the Covid ward, I noticed that doctors and paramedics were actively engaging with patients, which gave them relief and elevated their confidence. Five months ago, this was not the case, doctors were reluctant to touch Covid patients, fearing they would catch the deadly virus.
The fear was tangible as in April, I had lost my 55-year-old cousin to the disease. He died alone in an isolated ward at Bemina SKIMS. His family was sitting in the hospital courtyard and only learnt of his death three hours later.
On the first day of my hospitalisation, many friends advised me to shift to a hospital in Srinagar but I wanted to remain close to my family so I stayed put at my home town, which is 50 km from the city.
At the hospital when the fever did not subside for the first three days, negative thoughts began to cloud my mind. ‘What if I didn’t get better despite the injections?’ My mind began to play negative thoughts in a loop. I couldn’t sleep and didn’t like to attend calls whenever my phone buzzed.
However, after spending three days at the hospital my temperature came down and my cough subsided. Doctors told me this was the first step of my journey towards recovery, which gave me hope that I would survive. On the fifth day, doctors advised me to take off the oxygen for a few hours, which continued for the next two days. On the seventh day after my hospitalisation, I was discharged with the caveat that if my oxygen saturation dropped, I should rush to the hospital. I was again advised to stay isolated and follow a good diet to boost my immunity.
At home, I recovered quickly and on October 22 my RTPCR test came negative. I was free of the deadly virus almost after almost three weeks.
During my stint at the Covid hospital, I was impressed by the dedication of doctors and the hospital staff. I saw many patients recovering and going home. Only one patient, a 75-year-old man died in the hospital during my stay there.
Recovery rate on the rise
Today, I am back at work and reporting again reporting about Covid cases in the UT that have now crossed 91,800. However, it is heartening that the recovery rate is over 90%, which tells us about the nature of the disease and the dedication of the medical staff.
National Health Mission (NHM) director and in-charge Covid mitigation Bhupinder Kumar said, “There is a definite reduction in the number of cases this month. Death is a very good indicator. The number of fatalities has also gone down.”
Kumar said the testing rates in J&K have been one of the highest in the country, which allowed them to stop spread from those which would have remained undetected. “We test around 25,000 persons every day on an average,” he said.
However, with winter approaching fast and the cases could see upward trend. “May be due to H1N1 and flu threat. the situation could be a problem,” said Dr Salim Khan, head of department of social and preventive medicine at GMC.