In the lockdown, while I was on regular OPD and ICU rounds at COVID hospital, I started noticing some mild symptoms of the Coronavirus. Being in the medical field and considering the severity of the pandemic situation then, I was very careful and cautious and observed the symptoms closely. The symptoms persisted and I had to self-quarantine myself until the medical test reports came. It was important for me to isolate myself from the rest of the medical team and prevent the spread of the virus. Finally, the report came: I was COVID positive!
“As hours passed by, I could see the pain all round. The two patients lying in my neighbouring beds in ICU were the one whom I had medically consulted a few days back.”
Stunned and slightly devastated; I broke the news to my family who could not believe it either. As a doctor, I could only treat, comfort and empathise with the COVID patients undergoing treatment; completely isolated from their loved ones. But now, I could actually feel the uncertainty of the situation.
I was hospitalized and continued to experience body-ache during the admission. It was a stressful situation where I felt anxious and stressed about everything! My CT scan reports showed mild lung infection on the day of admission but as the cytokines storm developed my lungs were 76 % damaged in 3-5 days and I was short of breath and my oxygen level deteriorated to less than 80. Got shifted to ICU with hi flow oxygen and was on a bipap machine which I had purchased a few weeks ago for the hospital and never imagined that I will be using it for myself one day.
My team panicked and they were looking for air lifting me to either Chennai or Delhi or Bangalore whichever higher centre available to bring me out of danger. As hours passed by, I could see the pain all round.
The two patients lying in my neighbouring beds in ICU were the one whom I had medically consulted a few days back. The following night, the patient next to me who was on a ventilator expired and that was the same patient I was treating.
This death devastated me from within and I felt as if I was unknown to what was going to be instored for me next. Slowly started to lose hope as I was on the Bipap machine for continuous hours and was becoming weak with every passing hour. Got the courage to inform my Doctor friends that I shall stay in the same place and would face the consequences.
“The worst nightmare was still awaiting. Suddenly due to shortage of oxygen the pressure in the oxygen lines started falling and for a few minutes I was gasping for breath.”
The worst nightmare was still awaiting. Suddenly due to shortage of oxygen the pressure in the oxygen lines started falling and for a few minutes I was gasping for breath. Luckily, my nurse incharge due to his good presence of mind has put all ICU patients on cylinders till the main line oxygen pressure was restored. I could see death in front of my eyes but wanted to stay strong mentally therefore I was praying and motivating myself with the thought that I have a purpose to live for.
Few days passed and slowly I was recovering and was off the bipap. Shifted to ward with high oxygen flow. Parents were in Delhi and virtually I could see them after a few days on a video call. They almost cried on seeing me. Loved ones cheered me through the video calls.
Had immense trust in my Nursing Team and Doctors. Followed the bombardment of Remdesivir, antibiotics, Pentaglobulins etc. The storm of Steroid effect started on me with extreme weakness and rapid weight loss. My ward boys and nursing guys took good care of me irrespective of the working hours. Fortunately, after 15 days of treatment, and taking proper care and precautions; I was tested COVID negative.
Looking back to those days, I feel that the unpredictability of the Coronavirus situation, the uncertainty surrounding the disease, and the isolation period at the hospital was the main contributor to stress and anxiety rather than the virus itself.
And then I realized that it is only the mental strength, persistence and will-power which can make you thrive through each day. I am recovering slowly from my weakness now and have started focusing on building mental and physical fitness.
My take-away from the whole experience was that one should work on their immunity, mental health, improve quality of life and always be positive. Stand up to the highest challenge and face the darkest phase of life with courage.
Where is God no one has seen, but when I prayed in my helpless situation and was bestowed with innumerable blessings when my nursing boys brought nutritious food for me from their house (as parents were away in Delhi). The need for Remdesivir and was organised by people whom I hardly met ever. These real-life experiences make you believe that truly there is power named God and he listens to you. Lots of lessons learnt. Made new friends and lost loved ones in this pandemic wave.
“Dr.Amit Raj is a critical care Specialist and Cardiologist by profession, working in the Covid Intensive Care Unit at a hospital in Rajkot (Gujarat). An inspiring journey of a forefront worker will inspire you to believe that there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel and it is our determination to hang on that will strive us through.”