It was just a news headline at first, and then it became personal.
COVID-19 has completely changed the world and the way we live – our relationships, our work, our life! It has created havoc since the last year across the globe, so much so that when almost all of us were dealing with our first lockdown, we all shared the same sentiments, the same fears, the same hope.
This year, it is different. As governments of different countries deal with the virus in their way, different countries are experiencing peaks at different times and some countries are faring better than others. One such country that is not doing so well is my home country – India.
As you might have already read in the news, the second wave was brutal. Infections kept rising, and so did deaths. Officials suggested that we peaked at 392k cases per day, but experts agree that the actual number is way higher. With so many people getting infected and needing urgent medical care, we neither had enough resources nor a plan. With the government powerless to help, it ultimately came down to the citizens to create a framework, who then amplified SOS calls on social media. They found resources – hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, life-saving drugs through social media by verifying leads floating around the internet and sending them to whoever needs them. That is impressive! But it’s also kind of sad that the citizens were left to fend for their own and that, they did a better job than the government.
As I saw all of this play out on my TV and my phone, I was still blessed enough to be safe at home while still having a job (perks of being in IT). I read the news about the number of cases breaking records every day, 200k a day, 300k a day, 350k a day…
After a point of time, it just becomes a headline, a number. But what we don’t realize is, behind each number is an actual person who is suffering, who needs help, whose family will do anything in their power to save them. You don’t realize this until it happens to you.
When COVID-19 came home
It was a Wednesday evening when mom started coughing only to develop a fever the next day. Something in my heart knew, that this was COVID. Whether it was because that’s the only thing I read in the news every day or if it was because I heard stories from my friends and colleagues who were directly or indirectly impacted this way, or purely a daughter’s heart. Mom tried to brush off my anxiety by insisting that this could also be a common flu, but I knew. The fever was the giveaway – you just don’t get a fever if not for COVID-19 at a stage where people around you are getting infected. It’s like all other viruses disappeared from the face of the earth; not that I am complaining. We scheduled a test immediately and isolated her in her room.
Fear, uncertainty takes over in these times. What would happen? How severe is it going to be? Is she going to be alright? Are we going to get medical care? Doctors? Medicines? I was scared. Her test came out to be positive. I was not surprised. Two days passed before I got a scratchy throat and pain in my joints, a pain that I never experienced before.
At this point, I knew that I got it as well. The next day, my temperature was 100.6 F. My test came out positive the next day and my fever lasted for another ten days ranging from 99.0-102.0 F.
The 15 days (in total) that I was sick, was the sickest I have ever been. I had a dry cough, body ache, fever that made me take paracetamols like candies. I puked even water for two days before I had to go to the hospital to get anti-vomiting shots. I also had extreme fatigue, fatigue so intense that I could not even sit straight, I had to lie down. It was terrible, it felt like hell, I almost forgot what it felt like to be healthy and if I would feel healthy again.
But I slowly recovered. I started feeling a little better after day 10. Today, it’s been day 19 since my first symptom. Although I am pretty sure I do not have COVID-19 anymore, I have not recovered completely. I still have a lingering cough that gets worse on long calls. I get out of breath while talking too long or doing anything physically intensive. Although I can now sit on my chair to type this and also have resumed work, I still have fatigue that hinders me to live my life normally as I used to pre-COVID.
I am extremely grateful for my father who took care of mom and me when we were sick. I know how worried he was for the both of us and how much he wanted us to recover, to be healthy again. I could see how helpless he felt at times when I withered in pain. He took complete care of us whether that was to bring us medicines or food on time, talking to the doctors, or just by being there, showering his love and affection for us. I feel blessed and grateful for him and also for the fact that he is healthy.
Getting COVID-19 was a terrible experience, something that I would not wish anybody goes through. I am surprised when people say it is just the flu – some people are losing their lives over this. At this point, I don’t know a single family that hasn’t been affected in my circle. Please stay home and stay safe. If you have to go out, please double mask and socially distance yourself. If you’re in a country where things are returning to normal. Please don’t take it for granted. It’s a privilege at this stage. Count your blessings.
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