My experience with Covid19 – No, it is not a death sentence!
On May 26th 2020, I started presenting symptoms of Covid19. As the family of a respiratory physician fighting Covid19 on the front line, for us, it was a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if.’
It would be an exaggeration to say I was surprised, as I was expecting the worst and had already played out numerous scenarios in my head since end of March –when my husband had his first encounter with a Covid19 positive case.
But like most things in life, you have a hard time accepting the difficult truth. I knew it was inevitable, but perhaps subconsciously I assumed I was immune?
My husband presented symptoms two days earlier. He was experiencing sore throat and a mild fever. As days progressed, he had loss of appetite, anosmia (loss of smell), fatigue and body pain.
On his first day, I remember my husband telling me, ‘this is “that”!’ in his usual nonchalant tone. I brushed it aside as another false alarm (we did have a false alarm the previous month). I told him, the soreness was possibly due to reflux pharyngitis (a soreness of the throat and surrounding structures brought about by acid reflux). He was under enormous stress at work, the Covid19 cases kept increasing and many of his patients were in the ICU and few on ventilator assisted breathing. So I assumed, the stress caused the sore throat.
That same night, he developed temperature recorded at 39 degree Celsius. He also felt tired and went to bed early. The next day the temperature was down but he kept complaining of fatigue.
My symptoms started with a headache. A dull throbbing ache at the back of my head (occipital area), which kept increasing in intensity over time. One of my most recurring flashback of mine, is waking up in the middle of the night due to headache. I kept popping paracetamol like candy. It wouldn’t reduce in intensity even then. I would feel better for a short while but it would come back with a renewed vengeance. Over the course of the illness, I started feeling tired more often. I wanted to lie down all the time. My bed was my best friend. I would doze off every few hours and it was a task in itself to stay up. It’s been a little over a month since the advent of my symptoms but the other day I had a hint of a headache and I panicked. I think it will be a while before I don’t become anxious every time I have a headache. The second night of showing symptoms, I had fever with chills. As a summary, if I can recount my symptoms clearly, it started with a headache (which had its grip on me for 14 to 15 days). I also had fever with slight chills for two days, dry cough (mild) for 8-10 days and very mild soreness at the back of my throat (2 to 3 days).
Simultaneously as my symptoms started, my 10 year old daughter started complaining of weakness and loss of appetite. She had malaise (general feeling of illness) and slight temperature for a day. My toddler had mild diarrhea for two days. By third day he developed fever. That night he had severe fever with uncontrollable chills and I almost lost grip on my sanity that one night. He kept shaking and shivering all through the night. Usually when my kids fall sick, I don’t panic as I know my husband will handle it. He medicates them and monitors them. But I knew this time not him, nor any doctor on earth can help my baby if it takes a turn for the worse. From everything I had read and heard, I knew that if this diseases decides to worsen, it just will! I gave him paracetamol syrup every four hours. In hindsight, that was my only moment of unadulterated fear and panic throughout the period of sickness.
The next day he was fine. It was almost as if he was never sick. But, by then I felt weaker and sicker. I would be in bed all day. I couldn’t lift a finger. My family and friends would drop by with food. They would drop it at the door, keeping safe distance and leave. My friends and family would keep checking up on me all throughout the day for days on end. I thank God for a great support system. I probably wouldn’t have overcome this as easily as I did if it weren’t for them.
Although my kids had anosmia, loss of appetite and fever for a day or two, they were otherwise symptom-free.
With regard to the medication, we adults had a course of antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infection (Azithromycin 500 mg for 6 days), Paracetamol, cough syrup (Rhinathiol), Hydroxychloroquine, Pantoprazole, Vitamin C, Multivitamins, Vitamin D and Zinc.
Children had only Paracetamol syrup during the fever. And of course pediatric doses of all the vitamins and Zinc.
By day 10, my husband started having chest discomfort. He felt uneasy and experienced slight ache every time he took a deep breath. The Pulmonologist in him knew this wasn’t good and indicated pneumonia. On a CT scan of the chest, it was understood he had bilateral Covid19 Pneumonia. He started the necessary medications. A second round of antibiotics and a Clexane (Heparin – anti clotting medication) injection course. Although we were worried initially, he recovered in due course.
By week two, both of us adults were almost fine. We were well on our road to recovery. Still felt tired often but nothing detrimental. We felt happier. The first time I stepped out (a month after our symptoms presented), the emotion was surreal. Relief had replaced the usual fear of the past months. I felt liberated. We even went on a weekend getaway few days ago to recharge and refresh ourselves. It almost felt like the pre pandemic days. We still practice hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing a mouth mask.
To all my readers, what I want to state here is, apart from the aforementioned episode of scare, we were mostly calm and composed. There was no panic. There was no hysteria and there was no prolonged anxiety.
We treated it like just another flu. We isolated ourselves. Had symptomatic medications, had our vitamins, ate healthy, hydrated ourselves and had ample rest. We knew panic attacks are not going to help us. If anything it would have only worsened the situation. We did not even tell both our respective parents and siblings until it was a few days into the disease lest we frighten them and cause unnecessary angst.
The stigma attached to this is unwarranted and uncalled-for. This is not a death sentence. Yes, your prognosis is deeply altered when you are in the older age group and you have other co-morbidities but even then it not set in stone that you will succumb to the illness. Treating a Covid19 recovered person or even a Covid19 positive person like a leper is utter ignorance. Having a Covid19 positive person living two houses away from your’s does not constitute a threat to you.
I remember I was petrified initially. When my husband started treating Covid19 cases under him, I would worry senseless. We used to isolate ourselves from him (on his insistence).
We had separate sleeping quarters, washrooms, dining area etc. We even stopped sharing eating utensils. His hospital scrubs would be washed daily in antiseptic and detergent separate from our laundry. We had zero interaction although we were living in the same house. It was very tough on the kids initially, especially my toddler. But with time, it became routine for us. Difficult but a necessary one.
We tried our best to prevent contagion but it was inevitable that we would also be infected.
Although I was terrified initially, a month into the pandemic, I found myself much more composed. I had this ceaseless thirst for knowledge. I would read about this voraciously. I would relentlessly quiz my husband about his cases at the hospital. On hearing their prognosis and outcomes, I was oddly reassured. Vast majority of Covid19 positive cases being treated under him, presented with mild symptoms. Even people in older age groups and people having other ailments recovered fast. I was also fairly certain it affected children the least (from my reading and cases at the hospital). I understood, up until then, there were no mortalities among children in the Kingdom. That was a huge relief and inevitably gave me the strength to confront my enemy headfirst. Armed with all that data, I was ready. As the saying goes ‘Know thy self. Know thy enemy to win a war’. I knew my enemy and I was ready for war!
Stay healthy, Stay safe and God bless every one!