As we watched the whole world being gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic during the initial months of the lockdown, little did we know that the virus would hit so close to home, so soon. Six members of my family – my wife, elderly parents, three children and I were infected by COVID-19 in June 2020. Arming ourselves with the knowledge to combat the virus and keeping a cool head helped us overcome this ordeal.
In the first week of June, my wife began showing symptoms of body pain. On the second day, the body pain persisted and she was feverish. Subsequently, she decided to home quarantine herself.
That same afternoon, I had mild body pain but somehow managed to go for my evening walk. Later in the night, I woke up with shivers that lasted a few minutes. The following morning, I had a mild fever and hence I decided to quarantine myself as well.
As my wife’s symptoms persisted for three days, suspecting a COVID-19 infection, we got ourselves tested. We were both found to be COVID positive. We consulted our general physician immediately and he prescribed us Erythromycin and Paracetamol for four days.
In a few days, my father developed a sore throat. Ever since the pandemic broke out, he had been very cautious all along and was taking the necessary precautions. However, his sore throat persisted and he too developed a fever. As he continued to exhibit symptoms, both my parents got tested. Although my mother was asymptomatic, the risk of her contracting the virus was more as she was with my father all along. As expected, both my parents turned COVID positive and were subsequently hospitalised due to their pre-existing health complications.
Two days later, my eldest daughter developed body pain and she quarantined herself. In the next few days, my son and other daughter too had body pain. They had mild symptoms and were not feverish but tested COVID positive. The general physician prescribed the same medications to them.
How each of us battled the virus
All six of us had different experiences with the virus. On the sixth day, the fever subsided for my wife, but she continued to have body pain and lost her ability to smell. As she developed weakness on her ninth day, was prescribed to drink Oral Rehydration Salt to boost energy. Two days later, her condition improved. Although she could not smell for over a month, it eventually got better after a while.
I experienced body pain which was not intense but persistent and my temperature continued to hover around 99-100 F. Loss of appetite and dry throat were the major symptoms. I sipped hot water every 15 minutes to feel better. On my fifth day, the fever subsided. However I felt weak for a few weeks.
My three children had body pain that persisted for a few days after which they were fine. They had some bouts of weakness occasionally that lasted less than a week.
My mother experienced mild fever every evening for a week and lost appetite and suffered from extreme weakness. But she was also on the road to recovery soon, and was discharged after 12 days.
Soon after hospitalisation, however, my father’s health grew critical. The first X-ray results showed no lung infection. Loss of appetite and fever continued for a week. A second X-ray showed that he had developed a mild infection. Eight days later, his oxygen saturation levels dropped, and he required external support. A third X-ray showed that he had contracted pneumonia.
He was prescribed Remdisivir drug as he was critical and continued to be on oxygen support using non-invasive ventilation. His oxygen level improved in four days and about three weeks later, his health improved.
Although he continued to be critical, we ensured we video-called him twice a day to lift his spirits. Being all alone for a prolonged time is not easy, but he showed great enthusiasm in his battle with the virus and never gave up.
Medication during the quarantine period
As all of us were infected by the virus, we moved to the first floor of the house and quarantined ourselves, while our in-house cook stayed on the ground floor.
The four of us took all precautions to ensure that the cook or others visiting the house did not contract the virus. We wore a mask whenever the cook walked up to the first floor to hand over the food.
Our medication for 15 days:
- Steaming every morning and evening
- Vitamin C tablet to be taken every morning and Zinc tablets in the evening
- For body pain, we took Arsenicum Album 30 and Camphor
- We drank ‘kadha’ (a Siddha concoction made using common kitchen spices with hot water) before lunch
- Lemon and ginger tea was mandatory in the afternoon.
Other medicines which we consumed were: Paracetamol and Erythromycin, zinc and mineral Supplements, ORS and Kabasura Kudineer.
We had a thermometer and an oximeter for regular monitoring. I would suggest having a steamer and hot water kettle which come handy whenever there is a need.
While I share this information I would like to add that each individual requires a different kind of care based on their health condition. I would advise all who test positive to consult a physician and follow their guidance.
When to hospitalise
- Keeping a close watch on oxygen saturation levels is important. The infection of the lung can spread sooner than we imagine, and any sign of breathlessness should be taken seriously. If the fever is continuous and persists for more than a few days and does not come down with medicines, it is better to get hospitalised.
- If you are above 60 and have underlying conditions like BP or cardiac problems or diabetes it is recommended to get hospitalised soon after you test positive.
Involvement of Health department, Corporation and Police
The frontline workers of Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) and the police department deserve to be commended for their compassion towards COVID patients. GCC visited us to track down our contacts on the day of results and swiftly got in touch with them.
The health department personnel called us often to enquire about our well-being. Similarly, cops from the police station in the neighbourhood offered help. Personnel deputed by the GCC visited us every day and diligently noted down the intensity of our symptoms.
Our house was sanitised a few times by the corporation to ensure the virus is muted. To top it all, the volunteers roped in by GCC helped us buy essentials whenever we ran out of it.
As we live in desperate times, compassion is of utmost importance. Our neighbours were friendly and helpful, and we were not stigmatised. The biggest drawback of this infection is that one must be self-dependent. Apart from the GCC volunteers, our friends and relatives would drop off essential items outside our home.
My two cents as a survivor
- It is important to stay positive and be mentally strong.
- Safeguard elders.
- Follow all precautions and mandatorily wear a mask when going out.
- Do not touch your mouth or nose when you are outside.