Covid doctor

When I had Covid19…A Doctor’s Views

I, a doctor who earlier worked on the national helpline both on ‘e-Sanjeevani’ and ‘StepOne’ telemedicine platforms to assist the Covid cases and render advice, was a bit casual in my own approach when my wife contracted the disease in January 2022. She contracted the infection possibly from another doctor, a friend of my son, whom she had embraced lovingly a day prior before she herself turned Covid positive during the rise of the third wave. My wife, 62, had typical symptoms…of pain in the throat, body ache, high fever and dry cough. A commercially available RAT test kit showed faintly positive result but on the next day, RT-PCR test was positive. We isolated her but not as strictly as national guidelines. On the previous night too, she was unwell, in my arms. I knew I too must have already got the virus in me. It was up to the mercy of the virus to manifest with the symptoms or not. At least, in the initial 4-5 days, I was relatively fine. Similar but lesser symptoms appeared among my daughter and son even though all of us were fully vaccinated. They were negative on RAT. All of us lived together.

I was in anguish with my wife isolated and tolerating the pain alone. I wished if I too tested positive so as to join her and be on her side. God was kind to me. I too tested positive and joined her to alleviate some of her pains. She recovered uneventfully but I had problems with my SPO2 dropping to 89%. I decided to monitor myself keeping an emergency hospitalisation as a possibility. I felt there were very little breathing sounds in one of my lungs. My son’s doctor friends felt I should get X-ray chest / HRCTC and some Covid marker blood tests done. I realised for the first time how difficult it could be for a Covid patient to approach a hospital/clinic to get investigations done, something that I always cautioned my patients on the telemedicine helplines. Having Covid was feared as taboo…and why not? This Chinese gift to the world has marred humanity with many millions perished and much greater numbers debilitated…family relations doomed…social activities gone for a toss. 

I was on steroids with antibiotics. The next day my SPO2 improved 91-94%. Thereafter, recovery was uneventful with lung ventilation gradually improving. Cough with thick mucopurulent sputum continued for few days and then improved. The role of drugs during the 3rd wave was justifyably limited and I too applied the same on me (read ‘a glance at the Corona management at home’ I too recovered fully…BUT…I observed few unique happenings which till that time, were not described fully: -

  • I had hyperaccusis, a condition when even normal intensity sound is perceived loud, hurting ears. My discomfort was visible. I informed the telemedicine doctor about this new clinical feature of the Covid19. This came in public domain a week later.
  • My pulmonary vital capacity seemed to have decreased. I often fell short of my usual breath while talking. Deep breath exercises appeared to have alleviated my symptoms.
  • My appetite had decreased BUT…I did not lose weight.
  • I started feeling pin-prick sensations over chest, abdomen and upper limbs that is occasionally continuing even now…4 months later.
  • My vision seems to be gradually worsening for which I have to get checked. Power of my glasses possibly needs to increase.
  • My memory, esp the recent ones, is getting occasionally affected adversely.

I was reminded by the Cowin team to take booster dose of the vaccine 3 months after the infection. However, I feel the virus is in our neighbourhood, with most among us. In this state of national affairs, I feel most individuals could show up significant Covid19 antibodies in their sera. Same must be the case with school going children too. Covid is here to stay in whatever form. Most of those infected show minimal or no symptoms and go unnoticed. They must be spreading the virus in their respective contact groups. Many show-up with masks but most are without it. Social distancing has long been thrown to the winds.

I admire Modi Govt’s timely response in setting-up Covid Task Force in early 2020 which augmented the hospital capacities in whatever way, boosted the indigenous manufacturing of the Covid related consumables, drugs, test facilities, hospital infrastructures and most laudable, the Vaccine related indigenous R&D (read ‘Corona Vaccines in India’ It is our vaccine that save millions of Indians could escape from the sure jaws of deaths although tragically nearly a million-plus is believed to have died.

It may be a crucial time for the Ministry of Health and ICMR to be proactive with medical surveillance and community research to find out the extent of herd immunity and the requirement of any further doses of vaccination…both in vulnerable groups as well as among the others. If significant numbers of children in different age groups already show presence of antibodies in their blood, it may not be essential to vaccinate them…a decision that has to be based on sound research data.

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