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Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Covid -19: Musings from the hospital bed.

I am on the tenth floor of Global Hospital's building which has been reserved only for Covid-19 patients. Adjacent to my bed is a big window from where I get a top angle view of areas in central Mumbai like Parel, Lalbaug, Sewri, Byculla etc. Just outside the window stands red tall building of ITC Grand Central Hotel. Beside it is a cluster of residential skyscrapers. A retired IPS friend known for breaking the backbone of Mumbai underworld resides in one of these buildings. The premises has a big lawn and an open theatre in it where people can be seen walking or walking their dogs. At a distance, remenants of old mills are visible which reminds that the area was once part of mill district of Mumbai. Looking towards left one finds numerous under-construction towers which are as high as 40 floors. Beyond them one gets a glimpse of Mumbai harbour located on the eastern seafront of the city. There is good amount of greenery also seen. The area has good number of trees and some of them have been made their home by parrots, maina, sparrow and other birds. Looking towards right of the window I find a distinct looking white coloured building of The College of Physicians & Surgeons of Mumbai which appears to be deserted.The weather is cloudy and today there is no sunlight. Thin fog has engulfed the skyline around the hospital. This is due to deep depression which has occured in Bay of Bengal. Weather bureau has warned heavy rains in Mumbai also as a consequence. Hospital is a boring place but a good view mitigates the boredom.

My hospitalisation was preceded by 8 days of fever and declining Oxygen levels. Although, first Covid-19 test came negative, a CT scan of chest bombed that 20 percent of my lungs were infected. I thought of getting medicated at home but heavy insistence by friend Umesh Kumawat and colleague Ganesh Thakur compelled me to get admitted. In the hindsight I feel it was a timely decision before things would have gone out of hand. It is for the first time in my life that I have been hospitalised. In 2005, I was taken to Jaslok Hospital for first aid when my motorcycle was hit by a speeding taxi near Mahalaxmi. 

My day begins at 6AM when I am woken up by a nurse who attaches an intravenous means (IV) to inject antibiotics in my body followed by a blood thinning injection in my stomach. An hour later another injection of insulin is administered due to my diabetic status. Throughout the day, I receive four injections in my body and two of them in my stomach. After breakfast a dose of different capsules and tablets is given, total nine of them. My blood sugar level, blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels are checked every few hours. This is my fifth day in hospital and I am feeling better than the first day when I came here. My throat has improved and there is no fever but weakness is still there.

Initially, I had a bit of anxiety. Considering my co- morbidity, I wasn't sure about my fate. Before hospitalisation I have come across cases of four people I know who have succumbed to Covid-19. They were either of my age or younger than me. Some had no co-morbidities. The thought of dying, getting wrapped in black polythene and directly being taken to electric crematorium with no relatives around revolved inside my mind for initial two to three days. But then I thought, when my mother who was very critical and had a bleak chance of survival has recovered and gone home then in her comparison I am in a much better state. Keeping positive state of mind is very necessary for a Covid patient to maintain his immunity. A dialogue from movie Sholay is apt here - "Jo darr gaya, vo mar gaya".

Thankfully, while coming to get hospitalised I quickly picked up a book from my home collection, "Our Moon Has Blood Clots" by Rahul Pandita. This book is helping me to keep the phone away  and most of the time is being spent in reading. Have finished it more than half today. But you can't avoid the phone. Since the time I have been hospitalised there has been a flurry of calls and messages from friends, relatives, well wishers and colleagues. Phone is the only means for the people concerned for me to get update on my health as no visitors are allowed in Corona ward. For initial three days, I just responded to very few calls since I was finding it difficult to speak but now I am taking calls and also reverting to those whom I missed. It was really heartening to know that the people whom I had lost touch and had not spoken since years also called up after knowing about my illness. Some had themselves had gone through it and offered good advice. There is a TV set attached in the front wall, but mostly I choose to keep it shut for good.

My appetite is returning. The day I was hospitalised, I could hardly eat a single roti but  now I eat two and some rice. Every two days my blood test is being done and now words like Blood Culture, CRP, CBC, SPO2, HBA1C, D-Diamer etc seem to be important for survival.

The staff of hospital is very professional and friendly and are taking good care of me. All of them look same and faceless due to PPE kits they are wearing. From their Hindi accents like "Aap teek hoyega" or "Jyada tension lene ka nai", I can make out that most of them are either Keralities or Maharashtrians. Hospital dietician comes every evening to check if food is okay. 

Once she asked - "Are you allergic to anything?"

"Yes. Hypocrisy!", I said being intoxicated by content of the book I was reading.

First she got nonplussed with my answer and then smiled in amusement, which I could only read through her eyes since rest of her face was covered with a mask.

Any amount of admiration is not enough for these health care workers. They risk their health in line of duty. I am told that some of them were themselves infected with Covid-19 earlier and were critically ill. Few hours ago I was visited by senior doctors and an executive from the hospital's management who expressed satisfaction over my recovery. When I asked them about my discharge they said that a call would be taken once my latest reports come. 

 Although, I was worried about mother who was discharged 3 days back after recovering from critical Covid infection, I myself don't feel bad for getting infected by it. Nothing is waste. The stay in hospital has given me time to read, write, think, introspect and reflect on my past and future. 

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