COVID-19 survivors speak on recovery and well-being

Remove fear from mind, don’t lose confidence, says Indore's COVID-19 survivor

After trumping COVID-19, Rajesh Aswara is eager to return to the isolation ward of the M.Y. Hospital. The fear evoked by the disease, he has defeated it with grit. And going back to duty as a male nurse now, he can tell others how he became the first in Indore to do it.

“Now that I have overcome corona, I am more confident and want to help others combat it,” said Mr. Aswara, 48. Not that he was spooked tending to swine flu patients earlier, who flooded the chest ward where he has been working for six years. “But I am much more stronger now,” he chuckles.

To all nurses across the world, he says: “First of all, remove fear from your minds. Second, treat a patient only with a personal protective equipment (PPE) kit on. Don’t work without it.”

Not wearing a kit, while treating a COVID-19 patient, proved him dear. “I wore just a mask and gloves,” he said. The patient was among the first cases to be reported from Indore on March 22. Until 25 March each day, when the patient died, he helped her put on a face mask, checked vitals and fed her.

“I am not sure how I got the illness from her. Just by touching an infected person, you could get it. As so many people are dying across the world and there is no treatment discovered yet, just the mention of it spooked me back then,” he said. And on March 26, his worst fear came true.

After being told he had tested positive for the illness, his limbs trembled for a good 15 minutes. Passing the first day at the ward was the toughest, as his cough turned a sombre blackish. For several days, he slept for only two hours, walked in an empty ward next door feverishly hours at night. And with two-three patients dying of the disease at the hospital every day, he feared: Kahi agla number mera toh nahi? (Am I going to be the next?)

His family back in Rajasthan’s Dungarpur district, insisted they come the moment they heard the news, despite the lockdown, and gave up meals. “They cried, cried a lot,” he recalled. He kept it hidden from them for two days, pretending he was home all the while. “But my relatives staying in the same street here told them,” he said. Even his landlord’s sons and neighbours called, to his surprise, to ask after him.

Motivated by doctors

When he began losing hope, doctors motivated him to not give up, nurses prayed for him, he prayed for himself, ate heartily and on time and “just followed properly every instruction of doctors.” Besides, he inhaled steam 10 times a day and drank warm water, and took paracetamol, vitamin tablets to boost immunity and hydroxychloroquine tablets.

“All this, and the courage to let go of fear, not give up and be confident in fighting the infection kept me going,” he said.

Doctors told him: “Ghabrana nahi (don’t jitter). Just follow out instructions.” Being admitted at the sister hospital of another where he had worked for 12 years, he knew almost every nurse. “Brother, you have to go out only after getting fine. You have to stay confident,” they told him.

When he got better by March 4, he could lend the other kind of support to patients, who began filling the ward, he is used to giving as a nurse: the will to fight it out, and survive; better at it now having done it himself. “That day, around 10-15 patients were moved to the ward. And I felt good talking to them. There was a pregnant lady, another with a toddler. I told them to keep up their spirits, not be scared of the illness, and fight it out. I told them — see I am better now. It worked for me,” said Mr. Aswara, who had spent the whole time alone in the ward until then.

On April 6 at 5.30 p.m, Mr. Aswara became the first patient in Indore to overcome the illness. Now, he sleeps uninterrupted from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. every day, reads hanuman chalisa, takes a stroll on the street every evening and exercises in the open. “The neighbours and landlord have been supportive throughout. The neighbourhood doesn’t fear anything as I am cured.” His mantra to do it? “I just didn’t let my confidence lose.”

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 7:34:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/remove-fear-from-mind-dont-lose-confidence/article31326056.ece

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