Who is to be blamed? China and the Wuhan lab or myself for failing to abet the disease? Personally, I would not curse myself, though, as I have meticulously followed all advisories and painstakingly adhered to preventive norms since the onset of the pandemic; commitments will see no better results even if the whole effort is to be repeated. Who else then?
Had the crucial period of the months after the first wave been utilised for a war-footing vaccination drive, the situation could have been much different. Also, the precious opportunity to develop infrastructure to tackle another wave was consciously lost as the absence of oxygen supply and hospital beds became the hallmark of the second wave.
Four days of azithromycin antibiotics and paracetamol failed to douse my fever. Fatigue was an understatement to describe the difficulty I had in walking even a step. When the result of my test came, confirming COVID-19 positive, my blood-oxygen saturation was in the 80s. I was then expectedly advised by the doctor to get admitted as the chest infection could result in complications. We went to a hospital and were asked to wait for a bed to be vacant. So many patients were bought in, all but one symptom- difficulty in breathing. I have seen in papers and television regarding COVID-19 patients struggling to get oxygen. But the actual experience was frightening and outrageous to think that even after so many months, we could not have enough seats for the sick and enough Oxygen condensers and ventilators.
The news of several dead bodies being discarded unceremoniously is only an inadmissible pain the patients of COVID-19 endured psychologically in addition to the physical complexities they harboured as death appears nearer both in dreams and reality. Among the many thoughts, the questions of ‘Will I be accorded decent burial’ and ‘Will my loved ones be able to mourn over my body’ are the two uncomfortable questions that do not escape the mind of the affected patients.
On the third day of hospitalisation, as I was moved to the ICU of COVID care, an opportunity many patients are robbed and one which owed me a few people to thank for, there were a couple of patients whose conditions were much serious. The patient just opposite to me failed to continue his fights even as the Doctors and nurses tried everything to save him. The unfortunate event all unfurled in front of my eyes; the patient gasping for breath and eventually slipping into an uneasy quietness and the doctor commanding his colleagues and nurses to perform the many procedures till the man felt no discomfort permanently was no pleasant sight that replayed in minds often. Everyone in the ICU was silent for a while. Then the doctors turn to another patient with the same vigour and commitment to save life. They did save many. And it is in this unfortunate trivial, that the efforts of the healthcare staff stood out as the exemplary human sacrifice beyond the call of duty. We owe a lot to them.
As my situation improved and my blood-oxygen concentration steadily remained at 93 above for two days, I was advised by my doctor to recuperate at home to make way for patients with more severe complications. The only concern in my case was the shooting up of my blood sugar level, in one instance rising to above 600, as a result of steroids administration. It is ironic because COVID treatment requires steroids and steroids increase blood sugar level which worsens the disease and hence the requirement for more steroid treatment. It is a dangerous cycle and one that makes Diabetes management a key component for COVID care of patients treated with steroids.
The need to eat healthy and energy enriching foods post-COVID is punctuated with the requirement to manage blood sugar level and therefore the need to watch out for foods containing sugar and carbs. To achieve favourable readings, I have avoided all sugar-containing foods albeit salivating thoughts to relish just a cup of tea with biscuits. Without steroids though, the blood sugar level tends to improve in a week with a proper diet. Regular management will however be required for a while and the situation could be more tasking for the aged individuals. The headache for COVID affected individuals does not end here. The black fungus has mercilessly preyed on the recovering COVID patients and the state of Rajasthan has declared a pandemic. And to matter worst, there is now white fungus in the fray as a scary disease to watch out for COVID recovering patients. The question now is how well are we prepared and most importantly the extent.
COVID recovering patients need psychological support from the extrinsic factors as well as from within. The belief that the worst is over is important to rebuild the mind and body. While the efforts of personal emotional boost is an individual concern, there is no better source of hope for the affected, than improving our medical infrastructures that will result in manifold COVID recovery rates and their full recovery thereon. That positivity cannot be mustered by mere thoughts. It has to be seen, heard, and witnessed. Government should thus have a system in place for the COVID recovery.
As all record tumbles in second wave and lockdowns are enforced yet again throughout the country, one hopes the required lessons are learned at least now. Eventually, lockdown will be relaxed and we will have to start working again, and with it comes the responsibility of the Government to focus on the all-important duty of securing the lives of its citizens. Already talks of third-wave having the potential to affect children have been reported. Unvaccinated and oxygen-deprived, thousands died in the second wave. What beholds in the third wave will surely have uncertainties for which we as mankind has to research develop and strive towards finding the solution. But what is highly unfortunate would be to have the same known misgivings robbing us of precious lives over and again.
TS Haokip is a freelance writer and author.
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