Sunday, 20 June, 2021

   Stay Aware, Stay Safe   


Agony Of A COVID-19 Survivor


Narayan Prasad Ghimire

As I sit before my computer, a viral message was spreading in our Messenger groups regarding an advertisement on 'matrimony', where a girl was seeking a life partner, mentioning herself as one vaccinated with the double shots of Covishield. I was not aware whether it was a truncated piece of the advertisement published in a newspaper or just a phoney photoshopped piece.
As I read it, I remembered another interesting reality that a leader at an international programme in 2014 had said, "Internet is a family member now. Without internet, a family can not be imagined at present."
You may wonder these two stories do not have a similar context. But, one of the essential realities they affirm is: time defines one's life; different elements determine our life and change is the essence of life. We are bound to change ourselves- adapt to changed lifestyle and adopt reality whether it is favourable or harsh, bitter or sweet.
To make yourself safe, vaccination is imperative at present while the internet is still essentially an appendage of our life like a family member.
The viral message drew my attention. There may be several interpretations of the message. However, I think I have also come near one of the common interpretations. Similarly, some of the friends are joshing each other with the message.
My spouse and I suffered much with the second wave of coronavirus. After being tested positive, we had a bitter, agonising moment of life: shattering of happiness, mounting of anguish, piling of torture, dashing of hopes with dissociation, detachment, distancing and dereliction.
We now fear to think how wretched life became with mounting fatigue triggered with vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, fever, coughing, short breath, fluctuating oxygen level and loss of smell and taste. Loss of appetite with burn-out is a huge worry. But, the listless life must be revived with foods, especially the fluid ones. It is however easier said than done- even the sight of foodstuffs brought to us by the relatives used to make us nauseating in the beginning. 'How far the cruel death is,' I pondered several times when I vomited blood. My spouse had developed pneumonia too.
When the coronavirus debilitated us with further assault- as if the body is pierced, chopped, torn, and maimed, we are not able to look at each other from the two beds. When we managed to muster the strength to take food together, we look at each other and thank God that he saved us till the day.
In the evening, we used to say, "Oh, we're lucky that we survived till now. Let's hope we will survive till next morning." As precious lives were falling over a hundred every day, we used to think that we were fortunate and we had some more days to live.
The phone calls with love, sympathy, well wish and suggestions turn so annoying when we are not able to pick up even the phone set and speak for some minutes. "How are you, my children? Is your condition better?" These were daily phone calls by the parents. The brief was the response, "Not good, I'll phone you later when I'm better."
Hundreds of phone calls and messages were overlooked by us. The noise the two small sons made when they would play was quite irritating. The headache was different from that of other sicknesses- it ached as if it was imploding and exploding. "Was it the death throes?" I still wonder.
The initial ten days of getting tested positive for coronavirus were angst-ridden. Although we avoided social media, we were informed about the death of various acquainted persons and distant relatives. The death of a friend from the journalism field came as a shock wave. I was aggrieved much over his death. Similarly, the deaths in my locality contributed to mounting trepidation and anxiety. The death of the journalist who was in his 40s was the second time I became afraid much with the COVID-19. I was afraid when a man in the mid-30s died in Bihar, India, last year when the coronavirus had just entered there.
In such a devastating situation, we were lucky to have three of our relatives from the medical field. They cared for us so much that we did not have to go to the hospital for treatment. One of them visited us and a nurse cared for two children to undergo the test for the virus. Similarly, some relatives helped us relentlessly- risking their lives. The assistance they offered us at such a difficult moment of life is a huge benevolence. W
We are afraid whether we can extend our support and cooperation to them when would the same level of help they had provided us. On the other hand, some relatives turned non-cooperative and indifferent. I think many people suffering from the coronavirus may have faced such an experience of getting help from some and receiving indifference from others. Some suggested much but hardly pledged anything as relief, but some unexpected ones turned bold and assisted.
Even the close neighbours turned indifferent. It was life in Kathmandu- the jungle of concrete- where humanity is vanishing. It was indeed a test of human nature. How incongruent the Ideal and works and principle and practice are!
Initially, our elder son fell sick with fever, then the young one and wife, and finally, me. The children got over with simple doses of paracetamol. Although tested positive together, my wife fell sick before the test. Because I am an occasional visitor to the kitchen, it was my other test to handle the kitchen works. Cooking foods, serving children and wife and washing dishes became a prime duty. I was amazed when the plates slipped away from my hands while washing with soap. It took me much time to search the places to find spices. The difficulty to fix the amount of water in jaulo, dal and rice spoilt the cooking. I could not continue it as I was also gripped with the deadly virus within some days.
It has been nearly a month since we tested negative but we still feel weak. Even after testing negative in 22 days of infection, we were feeble. Comparatively, my spouse is likely to take more time to return to normal life. She is still suffering from recurring chest pain, sleeplessness and can walk hardly for five minutes. She has not restored her taste buds yet. The doctors said these are the post COVID symptoms and suggested an adequate food intake and plenty of rest.
I salute the medical persons who are the frontliners in this crisis. They have been untiringly serving the infected ones risking their lives. How worrying it is to read the news that doctors and nurses are assaulted at hospitals. More alarming is the people who hate medical persons, fearing they spread the virus, while the same medical persons have turned Gods to save the lives!

All Efforts To Fight Crisis
Cooperation and collaboration among all sides are essential to cope with the crisis. The mere efforts of medicos and the government are not enough to fight this sinister virus because it depends largely on our behaviour and habit. How do we take this virus and the crisis? Many seem too afraid while many are too careless.
The political bickering in the past year must have delayed the essential services to the needy ones. Many lives could be saved if all political parties joined hands and worked in unison to fight the crisis.
The inter-party differences and intra-party feud not only obstructed the political developments but also impeded the efforts to contain the coronavirus. Now, the virus has reached villages. More awareness of safety and health materials are necessary.
Most importantly, we need to protect lives by improving our behaviour. Carelessness jeopardizes precious lives. With the recovery, I strongly suggest everyone maintain physical distance and follow other safety protocols such as sanitation, use of masks and sanitiser, intake of nutritious foods, adherence to doctors' prescription, avoidance of rumours, and building confidence to remain away from the coronavirus. Safety is first. Life without safety is no life at present. You are you because you are safe like the girl in the matrimonial confirmed- she is safe with the double jabs!

(Ghimire is a journalist at RSS- the national news agency)