When Anita, aged 60 and her husband, 65, tested positive for COVID-19, it didn’t feel like news to them. “We were returning from New Zealand on March 15th and a fellow passenger in our flight was sick. We expected to get it,” says Anita candidly.
Anita narrates her experience in dealing with COVID and shares some advice for fellow citizens:
The start of the illness
“We were not tested for COVID-19 in the beginning probably since we had returned from New Zealand, where number of the cases was still low back then. But we self quarantined ourselves at our home in Kotturpuram. Two days later we both came down with flu.
The experiences were very different for us. My symptoms were very mild. On day one, I recorded a 100*F temperature and on day 2, I had 99*F. I was active throughout these two days and carried on with my regular work by taking paracetamol after taking our doctor’s advice. I felt exhausted and was down with an upset stomach, but these symptoms did not last for more than two days.
For my husband, however, the temperature hovered in the range of 100-101* F for over a week. The protocol back then was that patients would be admitted to the hospital only when they showed symptoms such as respiratory distress. But when his blood pressure started dropping even after taking regular BP medicines, we got him admitted.
It was then that he was found COVID-positive and was isolated in the COVID ward of the hospital. There, they took a chest X-ray, it wasn’t very good. They said the lung looked ‘glassy’. Treatment for COVID started then, and he started feeling better after three days, but since the hospital would not discharge a COVID patient before two consecutive negative results, he spent a week there before finally getting discharged.
Involvement of Chennai Corporation
The Chennai Corporation took utmost care once we tested positive. They first came and disinfected my house and the area. They shut down the Kotturpuram neighborhood which definitely would have inconvenienced many, but was a necessary step. They did not take any chances although it was just one house in the neighbourhood that had a positive case.
I received three calls every day from the Corporation, enquiring after my health and that was really commendable. The calls were mostly to find out how I was doing. Psychologists from the Corporation checked on my mental health on a daily basis, in case I was depressed or feeling uneasy.
The Corporation tracked every contact who’d been to our house and quarantined them by putting stickers outside their door to make others aware.
Life post COVID
My children stay abroad and they naturally panicked. As soon as we quarantined ourselves, we also asked all our staff to stay at their own homes, to be safe. All our primary contacts were tested and it all turned out to be negative.
I still see people interacting with us become fearful when they hear we are COVID survivors. There was considerable anxiety among them in the fear that we could spread it even after the quarantine period had ended. When the corporation stuck stickers outside our domestic help’s house, she complained people were treating them as if they had tested positive.
Given that this is a new virus that has played havoc around the world, the panic is understandable, but that means we need to continue generating and raising public awareness about the virus and the disease.
We are part of our local community WhatsApp groups and everyone around here has been very supportive. People were checking with us from time to time to see if we needed any essentials that they could drop outside our home. I didn’t feel alienated at all. We never stepped out of the house initially — it is only now that we are getting out to buy the essentials, but otherwise the general feeling here was good.”
After-effects of treatment
My husband’s appetite had gone completely. He lost his sense of smell and taste when he was sick. He refused the food we made and this was all early stage symptoms. During the hospital stay, he lost 4 kg and suffered weakness and exhaustion even when he was declared negative and discharged.
The virus takes a huge toll on your body and the earlier it is detected, the better it will be. Problems like breathlessness don’t appear till the last stage of the virus which is the most severe stage. It took him 10 days to settle down after coming back after treatment. He’s trying to regain his weight and every 10 days I notice some progress in his health, but it is evident that getting to normal will be a slow process.
I believe we need to learn to live with the virus. Building immunity is key at the moment, till a vaccine is available for the population at large. Your immunity is the only vaccine as of now. My husband and I both exercise everyday, but I used to go a step ahead by using pepper and turmeric in my diet.
I would also suggest keeping an oximeter device at home, a device that measures how much oxygen your blood is carrying . This will help asymptomatic people know if they are COVID-positive in the absence of any other indicator.
Finally, I would say wear a mask and follow all hygiene/sanitation protocols. Stay indoors as much as you can unless it’s absolutely necessary to step out. We also need to remember that a huge percentage of people are in fact recovering, so stay positive and strong. We will all get through this.