My COVID story: “I had mild symptoms but my lungs were severely infected”

My COVID story: “I had mild symptoms but my lungs were severely infected”


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Bangalore-based Guruprasad M. contracted COVID-19 in March this year. What he suspected to be a mild infection turned out to be a case of COVID pneumonia and got him hospitalized under intensive care. Sharing how a timely decision saved him from going on a ventilator, he urges people to remain cautious and not pay heed to cures circulating on social media and get medical advice on time…

It was at 1 a.m. in the morning, March 17 that I received my RT-PCR report confirming I was COVID positive. I had taken the test on a hunch after recording a mild temperature and headache the previous day.

I had been around some people so it was difficult to actually trace the source of my infection. Surprisingly, I had no other symptoms except for a fever. No throat infection, no cough, no loss of sense of smell or taste. I took the advice of the BBMP Doctor and prepared myself for home quarantine, as it was supposed to be a ‘mild’ case of COVID infection. I had an Oximeter, Thermometer and all the other doctors recommended medications with me.

On the third day, my fever had not gone down. It was still 102 deg Fahrenheit. I took a virtual consult while there were no other complications. The doctor then told me to get admitted and to get a CT scan, X-Ray for general observation. I decided to wait until the next day as beds weren’t available (in hindsight, that was a mistake).

The bed was not available even on the second day as well. As the hospital was very near to my house and that the doctor already knew my condition, I had decided to wait until the bed became available, if not for my other doctor friend.

While waiting for the bed on the second day, I called up my childhood friend Dr U. Guruprasad, who also happens to be one of the top 3 diabetologists in Bangalore. When I explained to him the current situation, he urged me to immediately join any other hospital. He got me a bed arranged in Mallige Hospital and I was immediately admitted.

After checking into the ward, I was immediately put on medication. Even after two days in the ward with Oxygen being administered, my saturation wasn’t getting stabilized. It was hovering around 85-90. On the evening of the second day, it was decided that I had to be shifted to ICU. From X-Ray and CT Scan results, it was found that I had developed acute pneumonia and my lungs were severely infected. The news shocked everyone in the family, as I had no visible symptoms of any respiratory illness and seemed to be doing well when I had joined the hospital just the day before.

The situation had turned worse with more than 75% of my lungs being infected. Doctors were deliberating on putting me on a ventilator. Eventually, they decided to put me on Oxygen supply (High Flow Oxygen Therapy) with the maximum possible, 50 L/minute. If I were not to respond to this, the only option left was the ventilator. On conducting other tests, it was found that the other organs are not affected, which was a relief. The medication and the oxygen therapy continued for 3-4 days along with 2 instances of plasma therapy, after which my body started responding to the treatment. On the 5th day, the oxygen supply was being reduced gradually, until I was stable, with around 5 L/min. I was then shifted to the ward and was being monitored for the next few days until my oxygen requirement reduced to 1L/min. After what seemed like an eternity (13 days), I was discharged with advice to continue on home oxygen support as my Oxygen saturation levels hadn’t come to normal yet.

I am highly indebted to the pulmonologist Dr. Khan, Dr. Dheeresh and the nursing staff of Mallige Hospital, especially Sister Shyamala, without whose persistent endeavour, I wouldn’t have been able to come off from ICU in a week. Dr Guruprasad was always there for me like a guardian angel, being in constant touch with the treating Doctors in the hospital. Dr Ranjan Shetty, another good friend of mine and a renowned Cardiologist in Manipal Hospital was of great help, with some timely advice.

The gravity of the current situation hit me hard when I was in the hospital. It seems to be a war zone out there.. The doctors, nurses and even the aayas are to use PPE kit in the ward for hours, which I am sure, none of us can withstand for more than a few minutes, especially with peak summer and the non A/C environment, mandated for COVID wards. You see that some patients aren’t able to make it, in spite of the best efforts. Against all odds and the adverse conditions, the dedication and the commitment that they show is simply amazing. The whole experience made me humble and increased my respect for Doctors and the healthcare staff, who are risking their lives and toiling away in those COVID wards.

I can’t say enough about the plight my family members went through. My wife, kids, parents, siblings and immediate family went through an emotional roller-coaster ride, though I wasn’t aware of it, being in the Covid ICU. Everyone was praying for me the whole time. Every friend, relative, office colleague and a family member was offering help and did their best during this difficult phase. As a result of all the prayers and well wishes, I am currently doing well and on the way to recovery.

While it was a rough ride last few weeks, there are few key lessons that are worth sharing with you all:

1. If diagnosed to be COVID positive, please don’t do self-medication. Consult a doctor immediately and act as per their advice. Be in touch with the Doctor (even virtually), until you recover completely.

2. Please don’t judge by yourself, if the COVID infection is mild or not, based on your symptoms (or absence of it). While it may appear that you are normal, the infection might spread through your lungs and damage other organs. By the time you ‘feel’ the symptoms, it may be too late. One of the mysterious effects of COVID-19 infection which is still being investigated by the scientists and medical fraternity around the world is a condition called Happy Hypoxia, in general parlance, which can be very fatal.

3. Don’t rely on Oximeter reading alone to assess your condition, if infected with COVID. Your body temperature, Oxygen saturation levels, pre-existing medical condition and a set of other parameters will determine the risk factor. This can be properly assessed only by a physician and not you.

4. If you get any hint like continued fever or lesser oxygen saturation levels, don’t wait for it to deteriorate further. Immediately seek medical attention. Please remember, time is the key deciding factor. A delay of a couple of days almost cost my life.

5. There are so many alternative medications and therapies concocted by so-called ‘experts, which are being flooded on social media, which is adding to the chaos and confusion. The sad reality is that some of the ‘innocent people are becoming victims and paying price through their lives. They resort to these therapies and lose those critical hours when faced with Covid complications.

6. We could avoid this situation to a large extent by following simple rules of SMS (Sanitization, Mask, Social Distance). It enrages and saddens me to see that most of the people still haven’t learnt from the current crisis and continue to roam around carelessly without a mask, violating all the social norms. Please remember that as responsible citizens of the country and of the society, it is our moral obligation to take all precautions to ensure we don’t get infected and also, that we don’t become carriers. I survived to tell my story, but not everyone will….

Let me end this with one of Tom Hanks’ quotes – “Even the simplest choice can make a jaw-dropping difference in the world”. I believe it is high time we all make the right choice.

Did you fight COVID-19? We want to hear all about it. ETimes Lifestyle is calling all the survivors of COVID to share their stories of survival and hope.

Write to us at toi.health1@gmail.com with ‘My COVID story’ in the subject line

We will publish your experience.

DISCLAIMER
The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for a physician’s advice. Please consult your treating physician for more details.



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