Yes, among thousands of fellow Covid survivors, our family too went through the drill and survived. Nothing remarkable we may think.
But we need to talk about and record the happenings of this part of a pandemic. A time that started from a space where we had only heard of the term pandemic.
From a time in 2019 when we all travelled, laughed, shopped, stood in lines, jostled into trains, spent long hours in the plane, fought over clothes in jam packed sales… to a time today when all this feels like a dream.
Can you believe we have spent almost the whole of 2020 in lockdown? Just was feeling better and opening up to possibilities, to be suddenly choked from April 2021 in the grip of the second WAVE of covid19.
Well we were immersed into it for a full 15 days before we were let out for air and a feeling of surreal relief, I am so so grateful. And I want to express just how I felt before, during and in a week’s time, after the episode.
It was on the 4th of April that my mother, aged 72, my husband (55) and myself (48) had our first shot of the vaccine. Possibly saved our lives.
Covid Diaries: 9th April 2021
A short one and half weeks later my younger daughter suddenly developed fever 102 degrees celsius. She had just been to college practical for grade 12 and we half suspected, but did not get her tested immediately because in two days she was feeling ok.
Just two days after that my mother and I developed itchy feeling in the throat and running a fever. We now decided to get tested.
Covid Diaries: 11th April 2021
It was during the weekend lockdown as UP government had declared that during the weekends no one was to go out. But we did not want to postpone this any more especially since we were perhaps putting other people in danger, like our maid and the driver.
Thus it was on early Sunday morning that the 5 of us went ahead and started asking around for a lab that would be open and willing to take our test sample.
Not many test centres were open but one diagnostic centre guided us about a space next to a hospital where they had set up a covid testing facility. It was way more expensive than what we would have paid for another day but we didn’t really have a choice.
We opted for the RT PCR test. It was uncomfortable. The people taking the test seemed so vulnerable to me. I felt really sorry for them and other frontline workers who are daily putting their lives at risk to test others, to treat others, to guide them and help them take the right decisions.
Anyway, one by one we went in. We were subjected to the the long probes. These take a sample from each nostril and throat separately. The guy taking the sample from my nose told me that it was reddish and give me a tissue.
The Testing Centre
There were no further issues there. The sensible decision to have the form filling, payment queues etc in the open air was good. So we would come minimum in touch with other people.
But looking at the line of humanity feeling sick, looking awful. feeling dejected, feeling scared… it was all so difficult. A mother was obviously sick, but not letting her daughter touch her, in case she gave to the daughter… a son who was sure his dad was positive and hence was telling us to stay away from him… scenes I will never forget.
We purchased a pulse oximeter and some vitamins and reached home dozed off after eating a light lunch within 24 hours it was confirmed the entire family was Covid19 positive
The first step, of course, was to socially distance ourselves and inform every person in the building so that everyone is aware of our status. Already there are many families in a similar situation in our colony but we do not want to put anyone at risk by not letting them know.
Then begin our blood tests, and since my mother is over 70, we were advised to take her for a CT scan as well. Having gone with her, we went ahead and got ours too.
So I had my first CT scan in the hospital nearby. It was uncomfortable, and we had to have our hands placed in a narrow ledge next to our head.
Soon you hear a voice telling when to breath and when to stop breathing. They record a series of small films, and give these back to us immediately. Of course, it didn’t make any sense to us.
Our reports came the next morning. Things like viral pneumonia and Glassy patches caught our attention.
Then we took some essential medicines. We had 5 days of stomach cramps and stomach upsets. Along with fever, this really weakened us.
Fortunately my children did not get a very severe attack and they were able to nurse and cook for us, taking care of us, mixing up ORS and generally helping us feel a bit more cheerful.
Covid Diaries: 23rd April 2021
However on Friday my mother started becoming very shaky. Her brother’s advice was to get her admitted in hospital as she was over 70 the fever was not leaving her.
Then began the task of finding a hospital and to find a way of getting her there because we were also Covid positive.
Innumerable phone calls later I manage to get an ambulance from the emergency service. Their only condition was that they would not wait and if the hospital bed was not available, they were not responsible for the patient.
They were on duty for other patients. Hence, they said they would simply off board her and move on.
By sheer providence and God’s grace, our childhood friend got a bed and her office manager helped us with the paper work. We managed without having to be there even though I felt very guilty about sending my mother and all alone on such an arduous journey in an ambulance.
When you need maximum support from friends and family but you are all alone, it is indeed heart wrenching. We can have faith that God held her hand and kept her strong through this entire episode.
Once she was in the hospital with thought that things would be fine but then we can the extreme horror where the hospital staff is so overloaded that the actual treatment began one and half days after we begged and almost pleaded with the young staff. She was managing with limited resources and claiming that no medicines were coming from the pharmacy.
So though my mother was admitted on Friday, the first medication was given to her only on Sunday.
This took a toll on my health and my mental peace. I realise that it is not so much as your own suffering that affects us. Rather, it is the fact that you feel helpless. About your own loved ones. And also all the friends and family members of the church of our acquaintances, coming out with they are only experiences that brought tears to our eyes.
It has been of week of ups and downs with my mother where in at times she needed oxygen sometime she could not breathe. Sometimes the BP became high. At times she could not eat the food there and they refused to give her a banana till I literally begged them from here to ask the dietitian.
In desperation one day I packed apples, bananas and juices, some coconut water, some probiotic drinks and a change of clothes and requested my driver to go and handover. God bless him for doing that in spite of himself being a diabetic.
However I made sure that I give him a complete medical kit made of 3 masks, one face shield, 4 gloves and hand sanitizer so that he would protect himself.
When I spoke to my mother and she told me she is feeling stronger, I feel better. But on days when she was not able to update me, the nurses were too busy to update us and we just kept hanging on by a thread were all so difficult.
My husband meanwhile had to be nebulised to because of the extreme cough and he purchased one from a store nearby. Constant monitoring through the oximeter helped us.
The mental security of my daughters taking care of us and the physical help provided by my kitchen gadgets were probably really helpful for me. I cannot stand dirty dishes and messes, and while I chose to close my eyes, the presence of these kitchen gadgets really helped us.
Covid Diaries: 2nd May 2021
And just like that, it was over. We got a call from the hospital that my mother was to be discharged today.
Just a sudden out of the blue scramble, once more on a weekend. The so-called UP curfew is on, but who’s going to leave a mom in hospital after receiving a call?
My husband and I quickly ate and got ready to go to pick her up.
The less said about the miserable 3 hours waiting unnecessarily while they hunted for, then waited for, then made me go up four floors up for the discharge summary, the better.
And we kept witnessing fresh cases of misery, ambulances with more patients, confusion as patients were arriving but no beds are available, and family was calling everyone possible to get that elusive “Oxygen Bed”
If you remember, we ourselves are just recovering and the whole experience left us chewed out and we slept like babies for 3 hours after getting back.
Happy Mother’s Day
This Mother’s Day, celebrate family, celebrate having a mother, being a mother, being a care-provider, being cared for. It is just too precious a relationship to not notice.
And when my mother returned home this Sunday, I knew that this Mother’s DAy was going to be so much more special.
Not a day goes by without missing my Father. We lost him exactly a year ago, 3.5.2021. This year, we spend this day thanking God for my father’s life, remembering him on his first Death Anniversary, and also thanking God that unlike last year when my father did not return from the hospital, my mother did.
All people have a span of life that is measured and it’s OK to not know what lies ahead, because eternity is so much more important than this brief life on Earth. But as long as we do have to stay here, may we remember to be grateful for each breath, for each waking up, for each minute of the day.
For doctors and medical staff who are doing their work.
For sacrifice and for human goodness.
For hope, in times of Corona Virus attacks.