My Fight With COVID-19: A Doctor’s Story
“I became one of the 4.11% of all the healthcare professionals working in Delhi who tested positive.”
(India’s national doctors day is celebrated on 1 July in honour of the birth and death anniversary of the physician and second Chief Minister of West Bengal, Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy. This doctors day falls in the middle of a pandemic where doctors are fighting on the frontlines against coronavirus. FIT is republishing this video today to celebrate our frontline warriors.)
Early morning one day, I received a call from my colleague saying that a patient admitted under our care for more than a couple of months because of severe complications of the disease he was suffering from, had tested positive for COVID-19.
As all the doctors in the department had been seeing him for quite some time, we were required to get tested for COVID-19. This patient was tested as a part of routine exercise of testing all the in-patients in the hospital.
None of us were symptomatic.
All my colleagues got a ‘negative’ report but I was told in the evening the next day that I had tested positive for COVID-19
Dutifully, I told my positive status to the CMO of my district (I live in NCR but work in Delhi) and was ordered to be isolated in the hospital.
I thus became one of the 4.11% of all the healthcare professionals working in Delhi who tested positive.
I chose to get admitted in my own hospital as it was one of the three designated private hospitals in Delhi.
Thus started my incarceration in a hospital room, the door of which I was not allowed to open for the next 13 days (until 2 consecutive tests done 24 hours apart were reported negative).
As for symptoms, I just had a mild irritation of the throat. There was no fever.
Confusing guidelines notwithstanding, my wife being a doctor herself felt obliged to test herself in the interest of the safety of her patients. My elderly mother was also tested.
My most anxious moments in the hospital were spent in waiting for the reports of these two ladies because the implications could be pretty bad, more so for my mother because of her advanced age and frail state. After they both tested negative I heaved what was more than a sigh of relief.
The police in two states swung into action and I started receiving phone calls from at least 60 to 70 people every day who would ask about my wellbeing, after being told by the police as part of the contact tracing program, that I was suffering from COVID-19. They were asked if they had come in my contact and when they last saw me.
I must say that they were doing a good job in contact tracing.
But what I did not bargain for, was the treatment meted out to one of my employees and his family who in any case was not coming to the clinic ever since the lockdown (a good 21days before I was admitted). They were harassed and hounded by the RWA as a family and were not allowed to enter their own house unless they produced a negative report for every member of the household. A price the whole family were asked to pay, just for being my employee despite being told that the clinic was closed ever since the lockdown 1.0 was announced. They would have none of it.
I was portrayed as a perpetrator of the disease rather than a victim. The news of my being positive went viral and a mainstream media channel also made a video of my house and the clinic identifying the ‘culprit’.
This kind of behaviour pained me more than the disease itself.
I failed to understand why one day people were lighting lamps and clapping to express their gratitude towards our class and on the very next day would paint you as the villain and hold you personally responsible for the continued lockdown.
Meditation, Exercise and Following the Doctor’s Orders: How I Recovered
In the hospital, there was a lot of time to introspect and reflect. I realised what it is like to be a patient. I realised how as a doctor I would nonchalantly recommend the necessary tests, investigations and medicines and forget about it without actually sparing a thought on what the patient would have to go through.
But I also realised that as a doctor you cannot afford to be sentimental about such issues involving the patients. You won’t be able to work and the very purpose of your existence as a doctor would be defeated.
As there were some reports that even after 10 to 12 days of testing positive the disease may take turn for the worse suddenly, even in otherwise asymptomatic patients, anxiety would sometime touch me but my friends and family would talk me out of it.
What saw me through this ordeal was the steadfast belief and trust on the Supreme that whatever happens, would be for my good and for the people around me and this was instrumental in my developing an attitude of unflinching positivity. I was determined to defeat the virus. Since I was determined to recover, I worked towards it by following the instructions of my treating physician to the ‘T’; by continuing to walk in my closed room itself for 45 minutes each, morning and evening and doing ‘pranayam’ for 15 minutes every morning. A book on Meditation which I read during my stay helped me actually keep my mind calm and positive.
Post discharge, I was quarantined for an additional 2 weeks; even my wife was in home quarantine for 4 weeks despite being negative throughout. But I guess, not much is known about the virus so far, hence the guidelines would keep changing.
Till we have a treatment or a protective vaccine, we will have to take life as it comes and possibly chalk out a new normal for us.
(This article has been written by a doctor from Delhi)
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