‘Hi Sir, my father is in critical condition. I may not be available for some time, coordinating things so that he can be admitted in some hospital,’. I received the above text on Tuesday, April 20. 40 minutes later, Amit’s father passed away.
Reliving some of the torrid experiences in the past week, Network 18’s Chief Executive Producer, Rajen Garabadu says never in his living memory has he felt so helpless.
Till a week ago, I could call up a Delhi hospital and hope to get a response. But now, the same hospital has no bed for almost a week. I now try and do the next best thing possible, which is to get a doctor’s consultation at the earliest. It helps to quell anxiety and offers some solace, hope, and direction to patients in distress.
Many of those I have spoken to in the past two weeks, who are battling the virus, start stressing when their oximeter reads below 95. I have tried to tell them while it may not be an ideal value, there is no reason to panic. I had several readings below 95 when I tested positive.
And on a couple of occasions, it even slipped below 90. I was overcome with panic but a dear friend Monica put me in touch with a doctor who spoke to me for half an hour and calmed me down. I was lucky to come out of it without requiring oxygen support or hospitalization.
I have been offering advice to many who have symptoms similar to what I experienced when I tested positive seven months ago. I used to be short of breath, especially when I tried to speak more than a couple of sentences. A CT scan of the chest had shown ground-glass opacities in my lungs, a fallout of Covid, which took more than two months before it stopped bothering me.
I still do not know if my lungs are clear. It can only be ascertained through a CT scan. But since I have not felt any perceptible discomfort for the past five months, I have let it out of my mind. My doctors have not advised a repeat CT.
Doctors generally do not recommend a repeat scan because of the adverse effects of radiation.
The second wave of infections this year seems to have adversely affected the lungs of many Covid positive patients. Last year, it was seen in relatively few cases. This time, it is this condition along with pneumonia and severely low oxygen saturation which has caused extensive damage. Lack of oxygen supply has triggered the biggest health crisis in the current times.
No day has passed this week without hearing of grim news of death or despair.
Gurvinder lost his mother but could not step out of his house to see her one last time or perform her last rites. He had lost his father to Covid last year.
I was at a complete loss of words. I still am. He is still battling Covid and so is the rest of his family.
Ravinder Bedi, a colleague’s wife, is Covid positive but has no time to care for herself as her son and daughter are suffering from high fever for 3 days. Her husband, Amanjot, is in a Delhi hospital for the past week after testing positive and suffering from pneumonia. She has not told her husband about the illness of their children as it may affect his health adversely.
Ravinder did not want to put her aged in-laws at risk who live on a different floor in the same house in Vigyan Vihar, Delhi. She continued to keep her two children with her, and the virus got to them.
While writing this, I received a phone call today, to share the sad news that the wife of my family priest, passed away this morning due to Covid. She was eligible for the vaccine starting April 1 but was yet to take the jab. My plea to all those reading this piece and eligible for vaccination is to take the vaccine, at the earliest. This is your best chance, and possibly your lifeline.
One gets to hear many such tragic incidents almost daily. What’s distressing is it does not look like things will get better anytime soon. My heart skips a beat each time I receive phone calls from colleagues, friends, and family. Not being able to help someone who needs hospitalization is something that I had never fathomed.
It is a feeling of sheer helplessness. But one lives in hope and seeks strength in both hope and prayers. I am sure things will get better but what causes anguish is how much more death and despair it will cause before we get there. Till then, think positive, hope, and pray you remain Covid negative. And not to forget the absolute essentials, mask up, keep distance and practice hand hygiene.