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One year of Covid: ‘Acceptance of being infected is longest, but first crucial step in path to recovery’

For a 20-something healthy person, the Covid19 infection is like an embodiment of a haiku - it starts off innocuous, quickly grows unpredictable, and leaves you in a mental space that is very different from when it began a short while ago
By Shalaka Shinde
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 01:07 PM IST

For a 20-something healthy person, the Covid19 infection is like an embodiment of a haiku - it starts off innocuous, quickly grows unpredictable, and leaves you in a mental space that is very different from when it began a short while ago.

My family’s face-off with the virus solidified a hypothesis - the virus affects everyone differently.

While the immediate effects of the infection are physical, they eventually transcend into psychological and social ones. At the end of August 2020, the month we got infected, my father, an ardent yogi, lost 13kg weight; and I found myself unable to run and in need of a therapist.

Insurance had ensured zero financial stress for both of us, but I shudder at the thought of how people with symptoms like ours and no insurance managed.

In the third week of July 2020, my father started going back to work after a break of four months. I had been working since the lockdown began and my family and I had convinced ourselves that we had managed to hack a way of keeping the virus out.

We followed the purging techniques religiously; the word “sterillium”, had equated itself with water in our household and our olfactory senses are now accustomed to the sneeze-inducing odour.

My father developed a cold and was granted medical leave from work. As we were too scared to enter an ENT doctor’s clinic, we decided to treat it with rudimentary cold medicine. Three days later, his cold was better, but he started developing mild cough. My mother, who is a retired nurse, had an instinct but refused to accept that her husband was infected.

On July 27, 2020, I travelled to Chakan from Pune on my two-wheeler to report on the murder of a minor girl. The experience, as such stories often are, was confusing, if not traumatic. Therefore, I was not surprised when the set in the next day.

By then, my father was practically wheezing instead of breathing. The realisation that an RT-PCR test was imminent settled on our collective conscience as a family. While booking a doctor’s appointment for my father, I started developing a fever and my mother simply froze.

The doctor gave my father and me a prescription to get an RT-PCR test and the social anxiety of being the first ones in our residential society to have contracted the virus set in. We decided to drive down to a private laboratory and submit our swabs.

Without any doubt, my father and I tested positive while my mother did not. Our doctor suggested that we go to the nearby hospital and get our vitals checked. This was a time when news of bed shortage was rife. As we went to a nearby private hospital, they checked our oxygen levels - my father’s was at 86, and I was at 89.

We had gone with simply our phones and one debit card in order to minimise the number of things we bring out of the sanitised bubble in our house.

The doctors asked us to get admitted immediately. Standing outside the emergency ward of the hospital, we quickly switched off our emotions to evade the effects of the panic that had started setting in.

My mother knew what getting admitted would entail and we all simply shifted mental gears to the practical.

What followed was two weeks of virtual paperwork, uncertainty, and laboured breathing, while being trapped inside the Covid-19 ward of the hospital.

It was only at the end of day two in the hospital that I started experiencing the laboured breathing that my father had been experiencing for days.

I was breathless even if I stood up too fast. We were both put on a course of 13 tablets, two injections, cough syrup, and an occasional steroid injection.

My menstrual cycle went for a toss in the months to follow.

I stopped experiencing symptoms after six days in the hospital while my father required oxygen support; experimental homeopathy treatment prescribed by the hospital; and 14 days to test negative. He entered the hospital wheezing. A husk of him came out of the hospital with a car parking bill of 7,000.

Since he was not carrying any money, the hospital security let him drive out of the hospital after I paid 5,000 through an online transaction.

The seven-10 days of infection seemed longer than weeks of working days. The infection unintentionally provides excess of that one resource that ambitious youngsters like to believe they have in short supply - time.

The acceptance of being infected by the Covid-19-causing virus is the longest, but first crucial step in the recovery of an affected person. My father, an ardent yoga practitioner, has started practicing again, while I have started running, again.

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