ENT DOCTOR Vishwas K Pai Shares His 24-Day Experience with Covid-19 as a PATIENT
Mangaluru: The following article is a recount of my experience with COVID-19 as a patient. The idea behind this is to share the experience and throw some light such that the apprehensions and doubts of people are sorted to some extent. This is an honest attempt at that and was arrived at after a lot of persuasion and encouragement of friends and well-wishers.
Day 1: I have been blessed in a way that I have never complained of HEADACHE (many do joke: no head, no headache). But jokes apart, I had no headache in 35 years of existence. It was a quiet Saturday evening when I had my first ever headache! And a terrible one too. It was unbearable beyond a point and had to pop in a paracetamol tablet and I slept early thinking it was due to lack of sleep.
Dr Vishwas K Pai- ENT Senior Resident at AJ Hospital
Day 2: I woke up fine, that is with no headache. Paracetamol does work I thought. Tried to get off the bed but my lower back did not let me do that. There was excruciating pain. Now what the Hell happened, I thought! Did not want a Sunday wasted because of back pain. Applied some ointment, hot fomentation, etc to no avail. Popped in a muscle relaxant. Spent the Sunday lazing on the bed with Netflix and chill.
Day 3: Monday morning I woke up with only niggle in my back. The pain was much lesser, I thought. After lunch on Monday afternoon was when I first coughed, a gentle one. That being the only one till evening. About 4 pm, I felt feverish, very slight rise of temp 99.2 on the thermometer. Associated it to my back pain, people do get fever when they have pain. After a couple of hours of sleep, woke up fresh without fever and pain. Both had disappeared. Slept well on Monday night.
Day 4: Tuesday was a busy workday. No symptoms whatsoever
Day 5: Wednesday morning my wife woke up sneezing. She has allergic rhinitis otherwise too. She sneezed till noon which is kind of a routine whenever she gets an allergic attack (or so I thought). I was fine the whole day. Wednesday night was when she developed a fever and my dad had some neck pain, occasional cough and 99.3 temperature. It was raining incessantly, so maybe the seasonal flu (we thought)
Day 6: Thursday morning, I was taking shower when I first noticed that my body wash which had a very strong odour, otherwise it was barely noticeable. I took a big amount on my palms and kept at my nostrils and to my utter disbelief, I had total anosmia (the loss of the sense of smell, either total or partial). I then used a lot of perfumes and sprayed in the air, on the body, on the dress and tried to smell but the sense was missing. My first panic bell rang. Dad and wife continued to have a fever the whole day but were otherwise okay. No cough, running nose, body ache, anosmia, throat irritation, throat pain, lack of taste. So none of the Covid-19 symptoms other than fever. One more thing about this fever was both never felt feverish except for thermometer readings, there was no pointer. Their body was not hot except very slightly at the forehead but the mercury was at 101/102.
Day 7: Friday morning, anosmia was status quo. Both dad and wife had quite the same day like Thursday. Fever, when checked with the thermometer, was similar but no other symptoms.
Day 8: Saturday morning, I continued to have anosmia. Their fever would not come down. I said to myself, enough is enough and told both of them lets go get a COVID-19 test done. I did not want to further delay in case it turned out to be COVID and given my dad’s age it would be foolish to wait anymore. We went to the designated COVID hospital and gave our throat and nasopharyngeal swab. The arrangements at the hospital were just top-notch and everyone knew their role and went about it like clockwork. It was really impressive. (for people who are hesitant or reluctant to go to the setup thinking its a govt hospital, trust me, it’s at par or even better than some of the private hospitals). The report would be available only on Sunday, so it was a long wait; mentally. But miraculously by Saturday evening both my wife and dad were a febrile (fever gone). We all thought it wasn’t COVID after all. (hoping).
Day 9: Reports still awaited after breakfast, we were watching something on TV when the phone rang and the news was broken to me, that all three of us were positive. For a moment it feels like someone just pushed you off a mountain but when reality sets in, you need to understand that you need to act fast. You need to get ready and pack things, you need to go for a quarantine. As a health care worker, I had the option of home isolation but my wife and dad did not have (rules have changed now and asymptomatic/mildly asymptomatic patients can now avail home isolation if certain prerequisites are fulfilled). Finding a room at a private hospital was quite some task as hospitals were not yet fully prepared to take in COVID positive patients. After a lot of deliberation and efforts, we did manage to find a couple of rooms at a convenient hospital for us and doctors treating us. Intimating district authorities about our decision to opt for private treatment and getting their permission was important. We did it and followed the protocol of getting to the hospital and to the room without exposing others.
Day 10: Day 2 at the hospital, all necessary tests were performed and everything was within the normal range, which was a relief. My anosmia persisted. Dad and wife had no fresh symptoms.
Day 11- Day 15: Same thing, different day. My anosmia was still total, dad and wife were asymptomatic, we spent days keeping ourselves busy with one thing or the other.
Day 16: I was discharged and back home for isolation for another 10 days. They would be discharged in 3 more days i.e on day 10 of the swab.
Day 17-day 19: Anosmia continued. They got discharged and continued home isolation.
Day 20: Miraculously enough, I was sensing the smell of the perfumed sanitiser. It was 15 days since my sense of smell had disappeared and to be able to smell again was a great feeling. Food doesn’t taste all that good if the aroma does not stimulate the olfactory apparatus.
Day 24: Today I decided to pen down my experience with COVID-19. stay safe, stay healthy!
OTHER IMPORTANT NOTES:
1. COVID-19 is not a death sentence. The mortality rate (no. of people who die after getting the disease) is very low . so do not get depressed or feel shattered just because you turned positive. U are a fighter and u can fight the disease, everyone can. We need to be mentally strong.
2. Do not let your mind be perturbed by thinking about what others will think (neighbours, friends, employees, employer, public, tom, dick and harry). Do not bother about anything. Just concentrate on yourself and your loved ones.
3. Whatsapp and other social media may humiliate you, spread real news/rumours. DO NOT CARE. The news spreads a zillion times faster than the virus itself and in no time one can become VIRAL due to a VIRUS. You need to fight the disease currently, to fight the news there is a lifetime. Just enjoy the creativity of the few who will come up with stories which will make Shakespeare look ordinary, and conspiracy theorists mundane.
4. A lot of people will call you out of concern/love/care/inquisitiveness/time pass/just for confirming etc. it’s a personal choice to attend calls, reply to texts but yes it does give you a reality check on who really cares for you.
5. Quarantine period gives you a lot of time to introspect. Use it accordingly. To each his own. Some find solace in spirituality and reading religious texts. Some with meditation and yoga. Some read books, some just slept their time off.
6. A lot of people will then send various suggestions. Why did you test? Just do home remedies. Well, if I had done that probably I would have been a super spreader given my occupation. Isolating once you are reported positive is different from without being reported. It is not possible to isolate at home for 17 days without a proven disease.
7. HAPPY HYPOXIA: Lot of deaths reported have found this as an astonishing finding. Without a pulse oximeter, it could be dangerous to simply isolate at home. Seen in COVID, happy hypoxia is when a person’s oxygen levels are so low that they should be experiencing fainting/organ damage but instead, they are seemingly well until they collapse eventually. There is a thin line between being brave and stupidity, so arm yourself with facts before demotivating or ridiculing others. (for people who send such messages)
8. Eat and drink as much as you want as the dictum. Very few patients have reported diarrhoea as a symptom, but otherwise, the majority have had no Gastrointestinal issues, so eat well. Hydrate well.
9. Gargling/steam inhalation/and a 100 other ‘sure-shot’ remedies will be advised by WhatsApp COVID warriors. Studies have shown no major benefits with many of these but I would not dismiss it totally as well. If one wants let them do it! I did not. But I know a few people who have burnt their tongue/ throat doing this in excess!
10. There is no repeat swab at the end of a quarantine period. This is because it has been found that viral shedding does not happen/viral load is very low after 7-10 days. Swab tests might still be positive as it might show RNA from a dead virus and RT-PCR test which is done picks up RNA of the virus.
11. And please take medical advice from your physicians before trying any hearsay/WhatsApp/television suggested cures.
12. Do not spend (waste) a lot of time watching ‘news’ channels which are creating a lot of panic and fear of epic proportions. Deaths have happened but people who have recovered are manifold. And deaths have been noted in people with many comorbid conditions including diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, cancer patients, etc. So DO NOT PANIC.
13. The most important aspect which gets neglected very often is mental health. It is of utmost importance. so please realize this and help those who are in quarantine/isolation. A simple text or two, a short call goes a long way in making an individual feel good about themselves. Isolation can be taxing on the mind and mentally weak might crumble, so be there for them. That’s the least one can do. Tell them you are with them.
14. Appreciate the efforts of all health care workers who are serving the cause. Doctors, nurses, support staff, canteen staff, housekeeping, security personnel.
15. Last but not the least, follow all precautions as advised. Wearing face masks, social distancing, avoid going anywhere unless it is absolutely necessary.
16. Let’s fight the disease, not the patient.
17. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. REMEMBER THAT.
About Author: Dr Vishwas K Pai, is a senior resident at A J Hospital & Research Centre, Mangaluru in the ENT Department. Dr Vishwas wife, Mrs Vathika Pai, is former President of Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and also manages Nirmala Travels; His dad, Kamalaksha Pai is an ex-banker from Corporation Bank, Need more information: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org