11 Lessons Learned – My Experience Fighting Covid 19

Living in Bangalore, my generation has never had to live through any natural calamity, war or famine – our biggest complaints would usually just revolve around traffic, work life balance and maybe some littering. But, COVID-19 has taken much from us, many lives, many liberties, many experiences, but there have been silver linings as well. I hope that you will find a silver lining in learning about my experience dealing with being Covid positive. 

My first symptoms were a mild sore throat, back pain, body pain and joint pain, fatigue, feverish feeling late evening on Friday, April 23rd 2021. I had the sore throat feeling for at least three days prior. My husband had been coughing and sneezing for three days prior and developed the same symptoms as me a day later. This was at the peak of the second wave of the pandemic so we didn’t take any of it lightly. We quickly isolated from each other and  consulted my Mumbai-based doctor brother-in-law. Our doctor quickly diagnosed all our symptoms to be classic Covid and advised us to isolate from each other and start treatment immediately, test or no test.

Self-Quarantine Procedures

Before this, we tried in vain to get an online appointment with a doctor in Bangalore, any doctor and just couldn’t get through. We also tried to schedule an RT-PCR test but they kept postponing because all systems were stretched in Bangalore – eventually we tested at home on April 28th with results arriving on April 30th. 

Mine showed negative and my husband showed positive with a CT(cycle threshold) value of 27, a viral load safe enough to be home quarantined under tele-supervision.  (It is recommended that everyone with mild fluish symptoms to test and decide on hospitalisation or home quarantine based on viral load: CT values <20 with fever should not home isolate.)

We Are In This Together

 The next morning though, I continued to feel feverish and slept through the day and night with just being woken up to eat or take medicines. The third day, Sunday I woke up feeling fine except having nasal congestion and cold and feeling awfully tired. I was worried to see my husband also looking tired and sick but trying to cook a meal for us while I isolate. I gave him instructions to make a simple lentil dish (moong dal) and rice and because he had never made it before he ended up confusing split urad dal for moong. We both quietly ate the food on two days without complaining, took our meds and went back to rest. 

Being the super responsible, loving person that he is, my husband continued to leave me food outside my room, made a quick cheese quesadilla from the ready tortillas and considering it was Monday – never stopped working or inform that he’s sick at work. All this while running a temperature, cold, congestion, body pain and fatigue. Also kept telling me that he’s absolutely fine and not to worry. (he only told me later how sick he was). I wore a mask and came out to check on him and saw him fast asleep at 7pm  and felt his feet  burning. I panicked. I mean, here was someone trying to be positive, working through the day, cooking meals, taking care of me – running a very high temperature. I said he cannot continue to work – that had to stop. I mean what if something were to happen to him? I could never forgive myself. Having lost both my parents to different illnesses a few years before – this was a sensitive issue for me. From my experience, nothing is more important than your health. He was very opposed to taking time off – considering he had some very important responsibilities during the next two weeks. Taking even a few days off work was simply out of the question. We fought, shouted inspite of feeling sick, I cried, some hurtful words were exchanged. We both went to bed angry, hurt, confused and very very scared. 

Tuesday was much better because he had thought it over and informed his workplace so he could rest and recuperate. By this time, we were fortunate to have our friend bring home-cooked meals for us and walk our dogs. Cannot emphasise enough as to how relieved we both felt to have someone care for us this way. Not once did they wince coming to our doorstep, strapping our dogs lovingly for their walks, as if they were their own. Each meal simple, delicious, nutritious, easily digestible – tasty too but unfortunately both of us have lost our sense of smell and taste to savor the meals. But eat we did. Every lunch had at least seven or more different kinds of vegetables, lentils, pulses and rice. Dinner was a relatively light affair with a light snack like idlis, vermicelli,  chapatis with a chutney, sambar or channa masala. We kept ourselves well hydrated with tender coconut water, water and hot herbal teas. We ate an apple everyday – rested through the day, slept a lot. 

Covid Toolkit

We were put on a course of Azithral, Ivermectin, and Pantocid. Apart from this, we continued with our daily dose of Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc. We measured our oxygen saturation levels six times a day, which were all between 96-98% even after a 6-minute walk indoors. My temperature was normal by Day 3, although I continued to feel fluish and it extended to Day 4,5,6,7. My husband had temperature of up to 100.5 till day 9 which was extremely worrying to me with frequent bouts of coughing, chills and sweating that suggested that his body was fighting the virus. But, our doctor said it’s nothing to worry about and advised against taking any medicines for the fever or Cough. He kept encouraging him to hydrate instead.  

On day 11, we ran a bunch of tests to check for antibodies, immunity, inflammation, secondary infection, organ damage. Our results are all normal. We both still feel tired, sluggish and have a cough.

 

Kindness Matters

Our experience has been without hospitalisation but scary nevertheless. Yes to loss of smell and taste and no to drop in oxygen saturation. We continued to nourish and hydrate ourselves irrespective of whether we felt hungry or thirsty and that really helped. My constant companions were my three dogs and Netflix and Amazon Prime and my husband watched the IPL for as long as it was on. We are still sleeping in different rooms. We both avoided mindless TV and social media as negative news is bad for fighting COVID-19. My learnings from this experience : 

1. Don’t panic if you develop flu-like symptoms – seek and start treatment right away without waiting for test results, the first five days are crucial.

2. If you have a doctor and chemist on call – it takes a lot of the stress away.

3. Do get meals delivered to you – it’s all the more important for you to eat simple, home-made, fresh, balanced, nutritious meals while you are sick. 

4. Monitor your temperature and oxygen saturation several times a day to ensure O2 doesn’t drop below 95%.

5.Keep in touch with close friends, family and neighbours and let them be your source of strength. 

6. Do yoga and breathing as much as you can.

7. Your body will fight the virus in a week.

8. Do not read, watch all the covid messages and WhatsApp forwards that come your way once well-meaning people know you are positive. Some of them can trigger panic unnecessarily. Do continue to refer to credible sources online.  

9. Finally, please don’t take it too lightly either and do get yourself treated as soon as you feel mild symptoms. Do not be in denial and wait for more severe symptoms. You have reduced your chances of a mild disease by doing so.

10. Have a daily routine – take a shower, wear fresh clothes, read, solve puzzles, play, meditate, pray, do pranayama, garden, play with your pets, do yoga if your body permits, listen to music, watch a movie. Anything that makes you feel good. 

11. Talk to someone you personally know who’s recovering or recently recovered from Covid. I had three different friends sharing their experience with me often, what worked for them and what to expect next. This greatly helped with not panicking and using some of their tips – like having a litre of ORS water everyday to help with preventing dehydration and normalising body temperature. 

Getting vaccinated,  practicing social distancing, masking and hand hygiene to manage the virus are the only reliable ways forward. We believe our maskless 15-minute or so social interaction with two dear friends inside our home may have been the source of our turning positive – as they had turned positive a few days later. They are now fully recovered and in good health which is great news. With covid, all It takes is one momentary lapse – so be mindful for your sake and that of others. 

If you had asked me last year, I would have told you how paranoid I was to  contract COVID-19. Last year, it was not so much fear of death but fear of abandonment and social ostracisation that was disturbing to me. I have to say that getting Covid this year has helped me overcome that paranoia and the suspense that had taken over our lives. I’m able to empathise so much more with covid patients and the people who selflessly care for them. In being affected with it, I’m not as scared of Covid as I used to be and hope to pay it forward by doing my bit of service when someone I know needs help. I’m ever so grateful for friends and family who care – we survived thanks to their love and constant support. 

My COVID-19 experience has been scary but it is nothing compared to my imagined covid experience that I had built up in my head for the last year – in sharing my experience,  I hope that it allays your fears about the virus.

Covid – Know The Numbers

Update 7th May 2021 : We tested again for Covid after 14 days of when we first had symptoms and this time I tested positive and my husband tested negative. My CT values showed 23 (less than 20 means one needs to hospitalise) I was quite sure I would test negative and this came as a shock because I had already been through all the symptoms and now was experiencing only residual/lingering symptoms like tiredness, fatigue, loss of smell and taste, sleepiness, cough, dizziness when I stand up after lying down, brain fog, unexplained headache, joint pain and muscle pain. No fever, no cold, no sore throat. 

As much as I want to brush it aside and feel like I have recovered – the positive result with a low CT value bothered me. I’m concerned what other effect it has had on my body and health – why is the virus still in my body after 14 days? What complications will this lead to? I read reports about black fungus killing covid patients. I read about breathless in some patients after weeks of recovery. I read about organ damage. I’m worried and check with my doctor brother-in-law who tells me not to worry. It’s probably a false positive report and besides it’s perfectly normal and many many people test positive weeks or even months after recovery. It’s just that the virus shedding takes longer in some people than others. 

According to health experts, “There are going to be individuals that shed nonviable viral debris (and will test positive) for some period of time but not be contagious.”

Though some people may potentially shed small amounts of virus weeks after being diagnosed, others who continue to test positive may be carrying noninfectious viral remains in their body, according to experts. 

However, If you’re  having fevers, there’s likely some degree of active infection and it’s important to continue self-isolating, as per doctor’s opinions. 

I’m home quarantined for a further 14 days and continue to sleep in separate rooms from my husband. It is what it is. 

I’m continuing to check my oxygen and pulse which are normal. I’m eating fresh, home-made, nutritious food still being sent over by our loving friends. Im drinking coconut water every morning. Snacking on lots of different types of fruits. Drink lots of water through the day. Take my multivitamins. Taking it easy and not doing any chores or cleaning or cooking. I’m trying to do some moderate exercise every few days – some yoga, meditation, breathing, getting on the elliptical whenever I feel like I can and listen to my body. Generally, try to keep positive and taking each day as it comes. My sense of taste and smell is somewhat back a few days ago. I can’t smell long range odors fully yet (like incense in a room), but if I bring something close to my nose, I can smell it. I feel like my taste buds are not fully awake yet. I do feel like tasting and eating a lot of things – But the actual eating of something I crave is not satisfying because I can’t yet fully taste and smell anything yet. This is frustrating but what can I do, right? 

What’s helping me at the moment is not reading the news because there’s only news of death, complications, shortage of beds and oxygen supply, crowded crematoria etc – information I can do without and anxiety I can do without. 

I try to stick to a calming routine -whatever I enjoy doing whether it’s being with plants and pets or some light reading or light movie. And sleep – lots of it. My husband and I make sure to eat our  meals together and spend quality time in the evenings now that he’s back to working from home and is busy through the day. Since we both tested positive – it’s really comforting to share our symptoms and anxieties with each other and give each other the strength and support to carry on. He is still dealing with a lot of residual symptoms as well inspite of testing negative the second time – and is taking a cough syrup to help with his coughing bouts. 

We are both fortunate that we haven’t so far had to deal with shortness of breath or more severe symptoms and to have a support system in our friends and family – they’ve been our rock. 

I will update this post again and in the meantime do take care of yourself and your family. Stay home and stay safe. Don’t let your mask down. 

Update 20th May 2021:

Today is the 14th day since I tested positive and  the 27th day since I first had symptoms. (my first test was a false negative.)

I feel absolutely fine for the past 3 days (from 17th may) and I’ve been able to do my one hour of yoga and one hour of cardio on an elliptical which raises my heart rate to 160 beats per minute without any abnormal tiredness or covid-fatigue. I do experience some clicks  around my joints when I move or do yoga – as if I’m going to sprain myself but haven’t so far. I cannot yet fully taste or smell and I’m unable to fully enjoy any food I eat, I also feel like I need to add more salt and spice to all savoury food. Something I’ve never experienced before. If anything, I would prefer to eat less salt in the past. My husband on his 25th day from when his symptoms first appeared – experienced burning toes and fingers and eyes in the night and this worries us. Our doctor has advised him to take a different set of multivitamins than we normally do and says it should resolve this issue. 

Post-Covid : On 21st May, tomorrow I’ll be out of my home quarantine. However, a lot of our conversations at home have now started to revolve around what next. We read about post-covid complications related to heart disease, lung disease, kidney damage, diabetes etc affecting survivors even months after recovery. There is also this new thing we read about a lot these days – black fungus. As much as we would like to move forward with gusto and as much as we are grateful that we didn’t need hospitalisation – this worries us. It has resulted in stress and uncertainty about our current and future health. We are considering seeking professional medical counsel to help us navigate these and other questions we have about post-covid complications. 

We now continue to focus on our work and in our spare time do relaxing things we enjoy like yoga, gardening, playing, watching a movie and spending time with our dogs. 

Take care, mask up and stay safe everyone! Peace!

 

Update May 26th 2021 – today is the 20th day since I tested positive and 33rd day since I first had symptoms. I feel much much better and feel like I’m on the road to full recovery. I am able to do an hour of yoga, cardio and walking 10,000 steps all in day without any tiredness or abnormal fatigue. I continue to eat healthy and have stopped taking the multivitamins that I was this past month. Both my husband and I feel the same physically – we drink tender coconut water everyday, eat simple, home-cooked vegetarian meals, meditate, do yoga and breathing, walk a lot and watch some light TV every day apart from working from home full time during the day. 

Stay home, stay safe, stay sane!