Just as I thought we had surmounted the Covid curve and wrote a blog post on how to beat the lockdown blues, we got it. The entire family. Scattered over three apartments in the same area, we were fighting our own battles with the monster eating our vitals from the inside.
Father had to be hospitalized twice - once for Covid and later for post-Covid care. He battled like a hero. He still battling various symptoms and side effects that are eating him up even now. It's been a month and a half since he tested positive. I have always looked up to him. He has shown time and again the qualities I would like to imbibe, a strong will to survive, seeking help when needed and an impatience to start over forgetting the problem and looking for solutions.
Despite all my effeorts, being alone in my home, mother in hers, father in hospital and sister's family huddled in hers all fighting didn't make it easy.
Everyday began and ended with news of death and loss. It was as if no one would be spared. I thought for a few days that my time was up too. Darkness in my head and the smell of burning wood in my nose kept haunting me.
I lost and lost and lost - a brother-in-law who sang beautifully, an uncle who was a quiet and benign presence and my WhatsApp friend for political satire and memes and finally, my brother and best friend, uncle's son - all within 15 days.
I was overwhelmed each time a friend said they needed oxygen for their brother or hospital bed for their mother or an uncle or aunt - most of these people never made it.
There weren't enough beds in the Capital's hospitals, oxygen was being smuggled and sold at skyrocketing prices at obscure places and medicines and injections were unavailable even online. Private hospitals with next to no facilities were charging anything for a bed in an isolation ward where the patient often died all alone. They died in the big, fancy hospitals as well when oxygen supply would suddenly stop and ventilators would stop working. They too died all alone. No one knew if they would ever see their loved ones once they were taken to these isolated wards. Often they emerged wrapped in plastic body bags and their last rites were being done haphazatly without proper rights or rituals because of Covid protocals and because the lines outside the crematoriums and graveyards snaked like a railway track. People were now scrambling for contacts in police, administrative and even political circles to find a space for their loved ones for their last rites.
|Lines for cremation|
They died struggling and finally, accepting that death was the only truth while all of us scrambled around trying to find at least oxygen, or unavailable injections being sold at five to 10 times the original price in the black market. We didn't know anyone in the political circles or in the judiciary or bureaucracy who could help us jump the lines and get us a bed in a hospital with ICU facility.
When all else failed, we would scroll through the social media sites seeking help from strangers. The help would come but, often too late.
I was sad, I was helpless, I was ill and very, very angry at everything. All strong emotions on an empty stomach with infections in liver and kidney and a strong bug wrecking my guts.
It was much easier to give up taking the steroids that were allowing to keep my oxygen above the 80s where it had fallen for a couple of days. The other options would be hospitalization or, getting medical care like, IV drip for the severe dehydration and oxygen at home. It was near impossible to get it the virus had peaked and people were dying outside and inside hospitals either waiting for a ventilator bed or, because the hospitals were running out of oxygen.
It was as if there was no end to the relentlessness of the situation. Friends and family, neighbors were trying their best from outside. I was getting tired of being prone on my stomach and thinking morbid thoughts as blood dripped from my nose and my ribs hurt, I knew that this is one enemy that's going to have me for good.
I wrote to a couple of people I consider as my older sister and brother from other mothers to say how much their support and love had meant for me over the years. I didn't dare write such messages to the family and older people though. Most of them were either battling the disease or would be really scared by such morbidity.
My friends from school and college kept calling and messaging me. Neighbors scurried around getting medicines, steamers and nebulizers as no pharmasy was picking up the phone or, if they did, they simply said, the medicine I wanted was not available. Some even refused to deliver since I don't use any money transfer App and they couldn't accept money from a Covid patient. I don't blame them.
Meanwhile, the people I had messaged my goodbye to also started messaging and calling me to boost me up and push me to take medicines. They tried their best to get a hospital bed or oxygen but, didn't succeed. But, seeing them try so hard for me along with my college friends scattered all over the country and the worls, I started feeling an urge to live. To meet each one of them and thank them. To hug them and laugh with them.
My next door neighbor, an elderly person kept calling me three or four times a day wanting to know how I was doing or if my stomach was good enough to take some food. On days I said, 'yes I think I can manage a little food', he'd make a meal and not caring I had Covid, would slide a disposable pack of nourishing meal at my door. But, he'd never leave it outside on the staircase.
On days when I wouldn't pick up, he'd knock on the door and keep waiting till I opened and said I was okay. Such kindness is rare and overwhelming coming from so many people - some cousins I had not spoken to in years because of our busy schedules were calling up regularly and boosting my morale and checking on me.
A strange thing strated happening around this time. While mourning the loss of near and dear ones as well as thanking the universe for filling up my life with so much kindness, I started talking to God pretending She was there in the room with me. She became my mother and caregiver.
I ate, slept and took medicines knowing She was around. I was overwhelmed when I felt her presence all through the nights when I couldn't sleep because each time I closed my eyes, my breath would choke and wake me up. I was begining to be drowsy all the time. I had the same problem sleeping even through the day.
She would guide me through the scary thoughts into a more happier place or memory. When I worried about my father all alone in a hospital full of other patients or, about my mother who was very ill though not with Covid, She told me that they were getting better and if anything happened to me they would lose all the ground they had gained. I believed Her.
On some days She'd not answer my prayers all day but, come over at night and tell me She was very busy because there are so many people who need Her. It was true.
It all sounds crazy now but, it was Her presence in my life that saved me. In an empty apartment full of dark corners, the faith that She was there and holding my hands was enough for me to start healing. It maybe my faith or belief but, I need to tell this story to everyone - we will sink without faith because the virus enters the brain and takes the patient to a very dark place.
The only thing that pulls you out is your will to live. I got mine from a warm presence that egged me on to make an effort, to surpass all negative thoughts and start eating, take my meds on time and wash and change my bedlinens every couple of days, to clip my nails, comb my hair, take baths on time - small things that we take for granted.
I realized that the virus had taken away the functions that that I was born with, hunger and breathing. It was wrecking havoc in every organ including my brains. It was making me take a cocktail of drugs and still bypassing most.
With the realization came a will to fight. Her presence filled me with courage and I started boiling vegetables and rice and started eating again. It took me a month for me to climb out of the vicious hole I had slipped into but, I crawled out inch by inch, buoyed by all the prayers I had been getting from all those people on my phone who I could not see but, who wanted me to win.
I know that this too shall go eventually but, till then, I am going to give it a fight. Bleak times sometimes last a long while but, it can't last forever. Nurture yourself to fulfill your destiny on earth.
This is my most personal post till date. I have opened my heart and spilled my rotting guts here but, I wanted to do this because, it's an experience I wanted to share with everyone. Don't despair and don't give up on yourself. When in doubt, pray for yourself and you will find the way out of this viral mess called, Covid19.
Take care, stay healthy and say gratitude everyday. _/\_