MY COVID Story: “My husband’s video call from the ICU ward next door kept me together”
“A virus that tries to destroy your spirit first”
Out of all deadly viruses known to the world, SARS COV-2 has a special power to systematically attack your mindset and spirit to live. Let’s look at its initial symptoms – sensory loss, breathlessness, high fever and above all highly contagious. Worst is its remedial measure – social isolation. My husband and I had a standoff with this virus during the second wave of covid infection in India.
I still remember the dark day when first my husband went from high fever to breathlessness within 4 days. We admitted him in an emergency on 9th April at midnight thinking that he will be discharged in no time. Thankfully, the second wave was still in a benign stage at that time, and he got a bed in a private hospital in Gurgaon, quickly. I was asked to leave the hospital immediately while he was being taken to the COVID ward with a mobile phone as the only mode to be in touch with him. It was hard to abandon him like this but that is what COVID protocol demands. The next day, I called his treating doctor, and the words still ring in my ears “you are too late to bring him to hospital. His infection has damaged 70% of his lungs and part of his kidney is also damaged. We will be doing whatever we can but cannot guarantee anything now. He will be at 6-7 litres of oxygen and the next 4 days are going to be very crucial for his survival”.
My hands were trembling and my eyes were welling up while my family was trying to console me from a distance (it was so weird) as I was in isolation due to COVID symptoms. I promised myself that I will be strong mentally and not let this virus win over me morally. With some failed attempts to arrange plasma for my husband and the stress of administering him an immunity suppressing injection – tocilizumab as his body had entered cytokine storm, the next 4 sleepless days had only one question whether we will be able to see him again or not. He was in ICU and not in a position to talk. The only channel of communication was his doctor’s one call per day on his health status update.
On the 5th day, my husband video called, and I heard his muffled words from his oxygen mask that ignited our spirits again. He fought hard physically and mentally during this time. He survived the beeping machines, crying fellow patients, tired medical staff, several injections, everyday struggle with an oxygen machine and seeing dead body caskets in his ward.
While at home, my fever and COVID symptoms were confusing me but on 14th April, I was suffocating when coughing. I rushed to the emergency room of the same hospital but their first approach was to deflect on account of the unavailability of beds in the COVID ward but I managed to get an HRCT done somehow that day. I continued with my telemedicine but on 16th April, I felt chest pain in every breath I took and my fever not going down below 102 degrees. I rushed to the hospital and cried to get myself admitted. After lying for 6 hours in a makeshift space for COVID patients at the hospital, I luckily got a bed. My HRCT report revealed that I too was suffering a 60% damage level in my lungs.
During the treatment, my perspective on life and death changed. I started valuing life and the breath we take. No more complaints, obsessing over issues etc. and just praying to God to feel the sunlight and wind again.
With multiple syringe pricks turning my arms black and blue, no sense of smell and taste, fever peaks and falls, excruciating body ache, howling patients including kids and no friends and family to hold me, negative thoughts were looming over but my husband’s video call from the ICU ward next door kept me together. We just talked normally as if nothing happened and never shared our dark thoughts or suffering as both of us knew that it would not help us in any way.
Finally, both of us were discharged on 24th April together and I hugged him hard to feel his heartbeat for several minutes. I devoted the next few days to help people in my network with positive thoughts, treatment awareness and sharing my experience with those who were still struggling with this pandemic. Because, I knew that before they break down physically, the virus will defeat them emotionally. Unfortunately, we lost our college best friend aged 34 years, sometime later in June, who was hearty and healthy unless this virus found him too. This tragedy further reinforced the belief in me, that nothing is more precious or important than every breath you take and having your loved ones always around you. Life is that simple.