May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
This is a story of two miracles that happened in our lives when the news surrounding the coronavirus evolved at breakneck speed in and around Ambernath. I aspire to pen-down my experiences with sincere note of thanks to God Almighty and every good people who supported us during this time.
The daily news depicted the heroic activities of men and women who worked tirelessly to eradicate the agony while the rising number of infections remained as unchangeable reality. Given the rapid spread of the virus across the globe, evidence-based recommendations regarding treatment and quarantining practices added more apprehension.
Sometimes life throws surprises when everything seems to be working fine. The repeated extension of lock-down slinked an environment that we were not familiar with. Mounting concern about the potential effects of the pandemic and calls for social distancing fully dominate the news cycle. The greatest challenge turned up when we had to navigate solutions for corona infection, quarantining, tackling of public perception, and barriers to testing etc. This was the deep-rooted deception that caused my story to develop uncertainty and helplessness.
There is a reason! On my drive back home after my initial consultation to Dr Pramod Nair I happened to witness an evacuation of the patients who were tested positive. This was quite distressing, and I never wanted endure such a helplessness.
With my previous experience of Pneumonia, I was intimately familiar with being short of breath and I was able to identify the heaviness when it was triggered by a virus. To my surprise it was never preceded by regular symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, such as runny nose, dry cough and congestion. Nonetheless, I started with what was familiar to me and initiated regular treatment for my chest congestion. I believed myself that my medical condition does not really require an acute clinical support however did not realize that Febi and the rest of my family was keeping a watch on my unrhythmic breathing pattern. When the evidence was apparently seen critical, I did not have any convincing reason to postpone my visit to doctor furthermore my kids and family were my predominance.
Throughout the day, the shortness of breath worsened with any exertion, and the ability to move was restricted. I had the crucifix in my hand every time I was off the bed. These symptoms did not really sound like what I’ve been infected with of coronavirus, rather they did sound like the symptoms of a pulmonary infection. I did require a minimum two minutes to normalize by breathing after every exertion caused by movement.
As anyone who tested positive, I asked myself, how did this happen to me despite my rigorous precautions?
Initially, we did not have a complete online connectivity to shield our requirements. The possibilities were less to transact all the deliveries to our doorsteps. However, my wife and mother were extremely careful to let the durable goods remain isolated. They washed the vegetables with soap and water to resist the virus at bay. As the pandemic eased, the daily activities were scheduled very hectic with office works, personal assignments and the climate always remained unsupported. I had to compel myself occasionally to take a morning walk with my mask on but could not stop my ride to get watermelon that cooled my daily routine. The repeated warnings of my family never kept me in fear rather added more assurance that I can never get infected. I began to practice more social distancing with great vigor which ended up when my breathing difficulty caused more suspicion.
All my precautions were not enough to keep the virus out. It's hard to draw a definite conclusion about the sources of infection. It might be from one of the vendors who waited for me with fresh watermelon. It could also be from ATM where multiple people come to withdraw their earnings. Statistically, chances of infection could be from anywhere and how one can be held responsible who stayed out of their house to feed us.
When the situation did not promise us much my wife contacted Dr. Pramod Bhalerao over the phone via a video consultation. He advised me on medicines to bring down my rising sugar and asked for a CT Scan or Corona test. This was sent by a test message which I deleted very skillfully. I was ashamed of breaking my confidence and also scared enough to be evacuated to unknown hands other than my god given doctor. But I never realized that I was under the close observation of my family and Febi recorded every moment of mine. She conducted herself very bravely before me but the story was different outside my room. When my breath taking worsened, she had no option but to convince me to get the CT Scan done. Next day on 1st July, I decided to do the CT scan halfheartedly but the next challenge was to get the appointment that would ensure less exposure. We contacted all the diagnostic centers around us however the CT scan was temporarily stopped due to increased number of Covid positive cases. Finally, the appointment was fixed for the CT scan and I had to push myself. It was the right decision because it allowed the doctors to spot the patch on my lungs and proved more clarity for my corona infection.
I was tested positive for Covid-19 on 2nd of July.
2nd July 2020
As stories of infected patients continue to develop online. The disease was previously thought to be most risky for older patients and those with comorbid diseases, yet many shared stories of young who are now intubated in hospitals. I couldn't wait any more. I proceed to test for Corona and am graciously met by a few people like Mr. Sebastian, Santhosh Kumar and Guru Nair who helped us to gear up the procedures.
The next, and more pressing question after testing positive for Covid is whether I should isolate at home or remain in Chaaya hospital. The situation did not support me enough that I should get back home in uncertainty. So I decided to stay at Chaya hospital until I receive the report. I was kept on oxygen support as the breathing was not easy anymore. On the next day Febi walked in with a smile though her eyes conveyed the stories of a sleepless night. She was certain that I would never have any infection but, we returned home to avoid any possible infection from the hospital where number of positive cases were already admitted.
Next day 4th July was the day of waiting and everyone’s attention was centered around the incoming calls in Febi’s mobile. After every call I waited for a knock on my door and I was happy when that was delayed. Finally, at around 6.30 PM Febi knocked on my door and she informed me that the result was positive. I felt that I was drowning all alone to the deepest from the realm of imagination. I took the crucifix in my hand and suddenly everything turned out to be very quick. After a long wait in silence I heard Ammu’s scream “Mamma ambulance has come…” That was the end of my wait and the start of my journey that I never wanted.
I walked down to the Caravan like a celebrity while people captured my departure. The ambulance moved on the roads that were very familiar to me but slowly I realized that I was losing the connectivity as the ambulance took a diversion to roads unknown to me. The water drizzled into the vehicle making my shoulders wet, but I left the windows open to locate myself helplessly.
I looked at my office bag and it reminded me of volumes of instructions blended with mixed emotions. I never looked at Febi while she was packing my bag because we both had accepted that that was not my routine journey to my office in Rabale. The journey culminated in an hour and the doors were left open for me. I looked for someone who could get me out but there wasn’t anyone. I stepped out of the ambulance and to my surprise the entire team was ready to begin my induction to the hundreds. I looked around for some familiar faces but mandatory mask on face covered even the very little expression of familiarity. How will I get across my problems while all of them looked like people from other planets with their PPE dress code? They asked for my details one by one and they recorded everything. As usual, my surname was omitted conveniently as it was not easy to pronounce. I was certain that they would locate my residence when I proudly dictated my landmark. Regrettably, that attempt also was proved to be in vain when they misspelled the name of Fr. Agnel school.
4th July 2020
My life began in CCC (Corona Care Centre) around 9.30 PM. I was given bed no 42 with two new bedsheets and a pillow. I kept my bag aside and observed everyone. It was around 10.30 pm when someone came to meet me with a dinner box but I looked at that person helplessly because he called out for “Bijoy Nel”. I did not understand how this “Nel” was added as my second name. I took courage to rectify the error that happened during the registration to avoid any difficulty for them to contact my family for any reason. To my astonishment the source of the error was made in the test report and it sounded less practical to correct.
This day was the second most difficult night that I would like to tear off from my experience diary. I took my cell phone, opened the image gallery and rushed through the recorded events. It looked like everyone was asking me to take courage. I removed the “Crucifix” from my bag and looked at Jesus and this time there was no complaint and just reminded Him that “now no one is around me and don’t leave me alone”. My cell phone started vibrating but I was not in a better position to speak to anyone who wanted to ask many things. I picked up the call immediately when Febi called me who did not have anything to ask but that silence communicated all that we wanted to say. Her voice instilled in me a better courage and opened my dinner box reluctantly. “Bijoy, you have to eat everything that is served to you because you have to take medicine” Febi reminded me. Then I did not think much and had my food that tasted me like another medicine. I had the crucifix in my hand again and said my prayers sent by Saji, my childhood from Italy.
I experienced the uneasiness throughout the night and breathing had become more difficult. I walked towards reception around 2 AM narrating my difficulty and it was not effective. I called up Febi and she picked up the call with one single ring who was awake miles away waiting to hear if I had something. I introduced her to them as Dr. Febi and that created an impact and she explained my case history. Immediately, doctors were called in to investigate my reports and I was shifted to critical care with 86 SP0 remarks on my report.
July 5th and 6th
The critical-care unit was equipped with the oxygen facility and did not have any empty bed because of the rising cases with breathing difficulties. I continued with my daily spiritual exercises on my bed and attended the Holy Mass offered by Fr. Warner. I placed the Crucifix beside me every time and on my chest while I slept. On 6th while I opened the bible and Jesus gave me this passage from 2 Timothy 2 which read as follows:
“As for you, my son, be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus. Take the teaching that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses and entrust them to reliable people who will be able to teach others also. Take part in the suffering as a loyal soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2: 1-4)
This passage transformed me with more responsibility, and I decided that I should get back to the people who are eagerly waiting in prayer. I started with breathing exercises and walked on the corridor for minutes. I followed every instruction and it was not that hard for me to get accustomed to the daily routine of the CCC. I looked with pity when the inmates were lined up for the food and questioned their sense of taste not realizing that the virus had lessened my sense of savor. Despite oxygen level being normal consistently I was still kept in the Critical ward as the RBS had reached 480.
On 7th of July, I was moved to general CCC with a strict instruction to be regular with my tablet for sugar (metformin). This added another condition for my recovery. When people were called out with discharge notice I had to stay back even though everything sounded good apparently. I waited eagerly for the team of doctors to certify my last stay in CCC. Regrettably, the RBS report on my file was a deterrent and remained as a stigma and kept me for more days in that distasteful environment. Slowly and steadily I began to comprehend every routine practice of CCC and looked at doctors whenever they came for the review. But I said myself that I will not demand for the completion of my treatment as I cannot imagine anyone of my family members being here.
Finally, on 9th of July, I was asked to lined up for the completion of the exit formalities. This was not enough to keep the corona away. They imprinted a blue seal on my right hand send me off with 15 days of isolation advice.
My family was extremely happy in welcoming back though Abina & Aanya (daughters) had to remain locked up with restricted movements and activities. Since the time they received the news Pappa and Mummy stood at the balcony to see my coming while Febi was ready at the door to sanitize me and everything I had.
I can write volumes when I think of the sacrifices that my family and loved one had endured during these difficult times. My kids haven’t seen me for almost a month and if they got a glimpse when I opened the door that they considered it to be the best part of the day. They have completed a month with no TV and had to adjust their daily online learning with limited provisions. But they never complained. It was very heartbreaking to see Pappa sleeping on the floor with a single layered mat. He kept a continuous watch on Febi that she is not shattered at any moment. It was mummy who ensured the well-being of Abina and Aanya as Febi had to keep off any close proximity to cease the infection spreading to them. Being at home Mummy had initiated support system with her association in the church. My mother in Kerala continued to be in tears and that turned out to be a powerful prayer while I cannot ignore Sebi and Libi who fasted and prayed for me. My brother (Roy) mocked me for not having enough courage but I realized that he was losing courage as the situation aggravated. All my relatives and friends contacted Febi constantly and supported her vigorously. I can remember only with gratitude all my friends especially Saji, Sebastian, Santhosh Kumar, Guru Nair, Vineet and all the members of my society. The list will never end if I begin to express my acknowledgement.
The world is yet to invent the most effective vaccine for Noval Corona. However, in my case God in his kindness had already reserved the medicine for me and that is what my Febi is all about. She never required any oximeter to check oxygen nor any apparent symptoms to measure my complications. She had the ability prognose all my health conditions just by observing the way I speak. God has blessed her with the proficiency to assimilate the unspoken emotions and strengthen others while tears rolled out often in her solitude. Any one of you who know her would agree and as correctly pointed by Durgesh, that “my better half has managed the situation very efficiently”
My life today
My antibody test on 5th of August was reported “Reactive” with 45 percentage. However, Dr. Neal Jetale advised me not to consider this report as a license move around negligently. I have resumed my duties on 3rd of August and I thank Vineet and my team for their support.
These are some of my supplications to all of you to ensure a better approach that would ensure the safety of everyone.
- Now there is a tendency creeping in every one's mind to see Corona is less dangerous. Medically that may be true. But I appeal to everyone that we need to treat the virus with the same criticality and seriousness.
- Symptoms are not vivid as they used to be earlier and it may vary from person to person. Therefore, don’t compare your infection with someone and give lesser importance.
- Do not wait for a clear symptom to take the first move to visit the doctor. The day you realize of your serious difficulties you would require three days additionally to begin your treatment.
- Keep a constant check on your existing alignment such as sugar, BP, Heart diseases etc.
- Continue with your home remedies, commit yourself to best-practice routines that keep the odds in your favor.
I hope you take my experience to heart and pay heed to some of my observations. Today it is abundantly clear to me that with the current threat being invisible to the naked eye, people have better understanding about the seriousness.
Praise you Jesus..Thank you Jesus
BIJOY K I +91 9511804319 I firstname.lastname@example.org