COVID-19 survivors speak on recovery and well-being

Coronavirus | Stay positive, urge Bhopal COVID-19 survivors

Thirteen days have flown past for Gunjan Saxena, Bhopal’s first COVID-19 patient and also the first to recover from it in Madhya Pradesh.

Along with her father in the isolation ward of AIIMs, Bhopal, Ms. Saxena barely had the time to ponder over the cough, cold and breathlessness that felt like the symptoms of any other viral infection, as more than 50 friends called and kept in touch every day.

A typical day for Ms. Saxena, a student of masters in international business law in London, began when she was woken up at 8.30 a.m. to her get vitals checked. Then she read the Rigveda and spent an hour or so in prayer. Then came the calls to friends. Some reading followed till friends in the U.K called her up in the afternoon. Later, she chatted with her mother and brother. Then came course lectures through video conferencing till she went to bed at round midnight.

After testing positive on March 22, she was sure of being cured. “Given my age, I was sure of being cured. But I was anxious about my parents being worried for me,” says Ms. Saxena, 26.

However, shifting to a different location and the isolation was more daunting for Ms. Saxena, who had barely spent more than 14 hours in a room before, than the infection itself. “The disease is not as fatal as the hysteria surrounding it, the psychological trauma stemming from it,” she says.

The novel coronavirus infection offered her the novel experience of briefly losing the sense of smell and taste too.

But when her father, 62, tested positive on March 25, she was crestfallen. “I was ridden with guilt. For 24 hours I shut myself from everyone, from my friends. I had nothing to say to them,” she says.

A veteran journalist for 25 years, K.K. Saxena had attended the March 20 press conference where then Congress Chief Minister Kamal Nath announced his resignation. Mr. Saxena’s routine visits to the Raj Bhavan and Vidhan Sabha over the next few weeks, before his COVID-19 status was confirmed, resulted in journalists, officials and Congress MLAs going into home quarantine.

The accusatory remarks from fellow journalists and a police case alleging his negligence in spreading the infection kept him awake in the 20-by-20 isolation ward and sent his blood pressure shooting up.

“When you’re scared of something, it overwhelms you,” says Mr. Saxena. “With patience, will power and and support from friends, I brought down my blood pressure.”

The father and the daughter, the only occupants in the ward having four beds set in corners, lent each other support.

It was at 8.30 p.m. on April 3 when the doctors finally declared the two coronavirus-free.

Mr. Saxena adds that the support from his wife and son were in invaluable as the infection ran its course. His son managed to continue running the daily newspaper of his father in his absence.

Ms. Saxena credits her recovery to positive attitude, peace of mind, enough sleep and “giving the body a chance to recover.” For her father, it was confidence, and his habit of reading for an hour before going to bed, a ritual the virus failed to disrupt.

What she missed the most was home and freedom to go out in the sun. “I am a very outgoing person, It’s difficult to retrain me,” she says. The doctors have advised them to stay in home isolation for at least seven days. And the drawing room is the place where the family meets now. Yet, Ms. Saxena can now play with her dog, go out into the garden and enjoy the sunlight. “When I stepped out of the ward, I realised it was probably a prison, yes. Inside, it didn’t feel like that.”

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 5:51:05 PM |

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