Wednesday, March 29, 2023 | Ramadan 6, 1444 H
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Medics and prayers saved me...

When I woke up on April 14, I felt something was amiss. I was feeling tired and lethargic. I decided I should go for a Covid-19 test just to reassure myself even though I firmly believed that I would never catch the virus. Despite taking precautions like masking, use of sanitisers and other measures to keep the virus at bay, the unexpected happened that I was tested positive.

I am still unaware of how I came down with it.

It is hard to explain the trauma. Many critically ill coronavirus patients have not been as fortunate as I have been. What I remember is that I reached the hospital to collect my test report. By then the nasty virus had already started showing the worst symptoms I’ve experienced to this day that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

What followed was weeks of anxiety and desperation. I thought I was knocking on hell’s door. My condition continued to worsen. My strength and energy were zapped. I felt like my lungs were getting harder. The sensation was overwhelmingly hard because of the breathing, congestion and constant coughing. My chances of survival were very low. I had developed pneumonia as well and my oxygen saturation level dipped to 70s, from a normal level in the low 90s. My X-rays were worrying with bone white lungs swamped by inflamed cells. The air sacs were filled with fluid, impeding the flow of oxygen to the organs and acute renal failure.

Adding to the woes was septic cardiomyopathy. But after 15 days on the ventilator and an equal number of days in the intensive care unit and some more days in isolation in the hospital, I made what my doctors who treated me termed a “miraculous” survival. After nearly 40 days of treatment, nurtured by the care of brave medical staff and soothing voices from my family members, colleagues, friends and well-wishers, I was wheeled out of the hospital on May 26.

And I do feel incredibly blessed that I have survived. It was a nightmare! It is not just that I survived, but that the doctors, nurses, therapists, and other medical personnel saved my life. The story, if there is one, is not necessarily that I survived, but that these people saved my life.

No words can express how grateful I am. The one thing I would like you to share is the phenomenal care I received at Bader al SamaHospital. I would like to especially thank the Managing Director Abdul Latheef and Marketing Manager Devassy K O, medical staff at the hospital including Dr Ravi Perumal, Dr Basheer, Dr Vijay, nurses, who attended to me and no words can express how grateful I am to them. They are truly my heroes! They went above and beyond in all aspects of care. Their professionalism is astounding. We can see that they have had a hard time for more than a year. They need far more appreciation than they are getting.

Equally valuable were the visits and positive vibes extended by my Editor in-Chief Abdullah al Shueili and all my colleagues, kith and kin, embassy staff and many others — the list of which cannot be penned down for its length. Their prayers and support were of immense help to me in my recovery. I am for the rest of my life indebted to you all! Just before I was placed in a medically-induced coma and on a ventilator I fought for my life and at no time did I give up. I was determined to make it and overcome a disease that has caused so much upset to the world.

​​​​​​ But that recovery came at a cost. I lost more than one third of my weight in less than two weeks; mostly muscle weight. It left me weak; unable to walk. Even though physical therapy and a slow return to my normal exercise routine is helping me recover, but mentally, I find myself returning to my days in the hospital when I was overwhelmed by the tests; the sounds, the unknowing and, most of all, the loneliness. Besides health problems, Covid-19 had robbed me of my peace of mind and all the more my personal freedom. I was not able to do (still I am not healthy enough of doing small things on my own) even simple things like feeding myself. It was hard for me because I’m used to doing a lot of things on my own and being on the go.

Being a journalist and a person like myself, it was very depressing. My family has not yet recovered from mental anguish left by the virus. Tears flow when they talk about the pain and strain they underwent during those dark days of my stay in the hospital. When my wife and children made a video call to me, I just gazed at the glowing phone screen. I had no idea what was going on. It was a blur. But I remember something. I think I hallucinated when I was in the coma. Talking to family members over video calls further inspired me to win this Covid-19 battle, aided by Dr Ravi’s continuous presence with me.

I have no idea what the ultimate effects of the coronavirus will be upon my body. Obviously, I am hoping for the best, but long-term health consequences are possible. Still I’m enjoying life every day right now. What used to be taken for granted is now precious, like the blue sky, the clouds and the rains. That’s the best thing in the world, just to focus on the little things.

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