First person: ‘Volunteering and motivational videos helped me through those lonely days and nights with COVID-19’

A health worker collects a sample

A health worker collects a sample   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

“You have tested positive,” said the voice on the other end of the phone. I took it with a calm bordering on matter-of-factness. Because, I had more than half-expected the result to go this way.

On a Sunday — July 26 — I received a call from the health inspector, and he asked me not to panic, and reassured me that I would be cured of COVID-19.

I was having bouts of fever and cough after I returned from work on July 23, and so I got myself tested. Employed with a private company in Sriperumbudur, I have been working from home since March, except for the odd days I have had to go to office. I visit the grocery store, fish market and to get other basic items, but I never step out, without the face mask on.

Having a one-year-old baby at home, I have always been extra careful and taken all precautions. So, when the result came positive three days after I was tested, I could not put a finger on one place or a few places where I could have possibly contracted the virus.

The health inspector said I would have to isolate myself from others at home and so, had to have my bags packed. I had a sinking feeling, but stayed calm. However, when my wife started crying uncontrollably, my morale hit the nadir.

The subsequent calls from the COVID Care Centre were about collecting all my details and getting the others in my family tested. In the next one hour, the ambulance had arrived and I was taken to a quarantine centre at Puzhal. My biggest fear was for my wife and child. Two days after I left, my wife too tested positive. Luckily my child’s test came out negative. They were asked to be on home quarantine.

The quarantine centre helped ease some of my fears. May be because I was with 70 others on a big campus. I was in a room with three others but we were 10-15 feet apart and we did not speak much to each other. The centre took good care of us and was also well-maintained. Our room was cleaned every day by the staff who were togged to the finger-tips in personal protective wear.

You wake up listening to an announcement made calling us for a kashayam at 7.10 a.m., which is again given at other hours of the day, but with different flavours including gooseberry and lemon.

Between a nutritious lunch and dinner, you are served other immunity-boosting food and vitamin tablets. Once in two days, we are taught various yoga postures that helped me tremendously.

Initially, I was interacting with my wife and child through video calls, but seeing her carrying our child was unsettling, as she was also COVID-19 positive. I confided my fears to her, and we switched to regular voice calls. I was worried both for her and the child. Our families were in Madurai and I kept wondering why I had not sent them home earlier. It was a relief to get help from our neighbour staying downstairs, who would prepare food for them.

Volunteers from the Corporation would shop for whatever was required for my wife and our child.

Many people who had COVID-19 and were cured of it would probably agree that the fear of the disease was worse than the disease itself. There are ways to deal with this fear, one just has to choose what suits them the best.

Whenever my spirits were low, I would watch motivational videos. I have been associated with NGO Thuvakkam for four years and during the quarantine period engaging with their activities gave me renewed hope.

‘Sponsor for Success’ is a project that I been coordinating and it is about linking sponsors to student beneficiaries. From my quarantine bed, it was a welcome change to take calls and close certain requests for needy children.

I was showing improvement and close to the 10th day when I was expecting to be discharged, I was impatiently waiting for my name to be announced. My name did not figure in the morning and afternoon list and I was gripped by fear.

Finally at 8 p.m., I saw my name and heaved a sign of relief. Coming out of the barricaded centre was like coming out of a desert into a land flowing with refreshing streams.

After I reached home, the first thing I saw was my child waiting to be carried. I did carry her, but wearing my mask.

(As told to Liffy Thomas)

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 1:03:13 PM |

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