For 33-year old Aishwarya Sharan, diagnosed with coronavirus, the road to recovery was not the usual one that we believe to be is. In a first-person account written by herself, she pens the ordeal she had to go through the course of the last few months, and the pain and suffering experienced – something all of us should at least be aware about.
For someone within the management field, handling client calls all the time, going about her busy life was regular, until some days she noticed she couldn’t put in the hours she usually would. She’d find herself out of breath climbing stairs and even felt dizzy multiple times. However, with no fever developed, she considered being safe on the covid scale.
Although, she developed a dry cough, so strong, that she would feel pain in her chest every time. “This went on for a few days when finally, my body gave up on me,” she writes.
After doing a covid swab test, her fear became real, as she tested positive for the coronavirus infection. “Panic struck immediately because I had met all my immediate family in the past week. All of us went into isolation,” she says.
The concern for everyone always does remain about the other family in the house, and the same was for Aishwarya. Isolation, for her, and like told by many others, is tough. Stuck in a room, for some being weakly unable to move about makes time really difficult to cope with.
“I could barely stay up, headache, and body aches were unbearable, and I had no appetite. I took the usual dose of multivitamins, antibiotics to avoid secondary infection, and the desi Kadha and Haldi Doodh. I was confined to my room with not much strength to move. I lay on my bed and prayed that I had not spread the infection to the ones I love,” she writes.
To her good luck, no one in her family developed symptoms for the next 15 days, but for her, stuck within the four walls of her room, it was terrible. With constant headaches, binge-watching movies and shows, and even reading, was something she just couldn’t do.
After recovering, Aishwarya says, “Turns out testing negative isn’t winning the battle after all. After 5-6 days of feeling moderately fine, my second bout of illness came in with full force.”
After consulting many doctors, and doing ECGs and other reports, she found that it was dysautonomia. Today, its been eight weeks since she tested negative, but the manner in which Aishwarya describes what she feels, must surely sound an alarm bell to the thousands that take the covid-19 pandemic lightly.
Today, she still faces palpitations and fatigue, saying, she cannot sit up for more than 30 minutes, nor walk for more than five. Amid all these, it has also taken a strong toll on her thought process. “Why am I not recovering? Am I crazy? When will I get better? When do I know that I am out of danger? These thoughts keep bothering me,” she says, adding that in due time, she came to realize that there are many other thousands of people also facing such long-term problems after testing negative.
In fact, post-covid care is something widely spoken of today. Being a new virus, doctors say there are many things we do not know, and we won’t know also. The long-term effects of the virus on the body is something the medical society will generally not come to understand anytime soon.
After a lot of tests, Aishwarya came to realize multiple things. First, she realized her autonomic nervous system was affected, which then was causing cardiac dysfunction. This dysfunction was causing irregular heart rates, and blood pressure problems. Amid all this, she realized there was nothing much she could do, as she only had to ‘rest, wait and watch’.
The most common thing noticed when people test positive for the coronavirus and are in a severe stage, they develop fever, however, for Aishwarya, she never at once even developed a fever. “You do not need severe covid to get long covid (indicating that even if you happen to not have any symptoms, it can still worsen your internal organs and cause complications). Testing negative may not mean it is over. The virus may leave your body, but the damage done to organs stays on. It is causing cardiac, respiratory, neurological impacts,” she writes.
What Aishwarya went through, in fact, many others too are going through, and the gravity of the situation is still not completely understood. Doctors believe that people coming with post-covid complications will only increase in the months to come. Also, the general notion that covid will only severely affect the elderly must be brushed aside, as daily, we are coming to realize that the virus affects every age group severely, and not just the old.
“You may be tired of the virus, but the virus is alive and kicking. Please do not be casual about it. It is NOT ‘JUST’ A FLU, it is anything but the flu,” Aishwarya warns, adding, that with every passing day, she is recovering, but she doesn’t quite know when she can get back to her normal self.
Like her, there are many others, some aware, some clearly aren’t, of the many other symptoms and problems that crop up after you may test negative. The road to recovery is not really clear, and for all, it’s a different path.
Stay safe, wear a mask – for your sake, and for that of others!
(Based on a first-person account published in TOI)