Updated: Dec 29, 2020
"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."
Usually the most ignorant, are the most fearful. COVID-19 has scared the living daylights out of most people. Yet everyone is a self appointed expert on the subject, making rules that hamper rather than help.
About a month ago, our younger son Pavit complained of a persistent runny nose and sore throat. So Pavit got himself tested only to discover that he was COVID-19 virus positive.
We consulted our family doctor who was treating some friends of ours.
He went through the reports instructed to isolate the whole family from the outside world and from Pavit within the house and to also get everyone at home tested.
After testing it was discovered that everyone in the family were negative except my wife Mohini and I even though we were asymptomatic.
The doctor asked us not to panic as the virus load was low and he advised us the following.
1. No need to get hospitalised at this stage. (Anyway the hospitals were overfull and understaffed).
2. We three should quarantine ourselves within our rooms and away from other members of the family.
3. Start monitoring blood oxygen levels, blood pressure and body temperature four times a day by ourselves using modern easily available fairly accurate and relatively inexpensive diagnostic equipment. ( Total cost Rs 3,700 or US$50). To report these readings to the doctor.
4. Began taking necessary medications and nutritional supplements.
5. Took steam inhalations thrice a day
6. Continued with the Yogic practice of 'Prana- Ayam' (breathing techniques to improve lung capacity and oxygen levels in the blood)
Luckily our house is long in shape and we were able to quarantine ourselves at the far corner of the house away from our grandson, daughter in law and the live in cook.
My wife wanted to inform neighbours but I forbade her to do so, for several reasons.
Nothing useful could come out of it, and would only spread panic.
We were in total isolation within our rooms within our home with no contact with anyone with no maids nor drivers coming to our house.
No garbage or waste left our house as we compost everything we consume.
Now we are all certified as ok by our doctor.
Now that we have successfully coped with the challenge, I decided to share the experience with others believing it will help them better understand, prevent and cope with COVID-19.
I hope that others will appreciate our openness in sharing the experience.
The testing labs are by law required to inform the local health authorities who kept providing us guidelines with do's and don'ts which were most helpful and made us feel that the government was supportive and could be relied upon.
Actual quarantine procedure.
A table outside was placed outside our rooms with necessary crockery and cutlery, drinking water bottles and a tray for medicines.
Then our honey moon with Coronavirus began.
We shut ourselves into our rooms, and opening the door only to take the food and medicines placed outside our rooms. Whatever utensils we used and clothing we had worn, we washed them in our individual bathrooms. Hence we produced no laundry no garbage at all, that necessitated handling by anyone else.
There was no contact between people, and any object and definitely nor any face to face contact.
Luckily for us both bedrooms adjoin a small terrace where we the three of us could get some fresh air and sunlight.
The virus impacted us in different ways.
I was asymptomatic except for a mild sore throat for a couple of days.
Mohini experienced severe diarrhea and anxiety which was quickly treated by some medicines.
We experienced a small rise in body temperature and a minor drop in blood oxygen levels, but within acceptable levels, which soon reverted to normal levels.
Pavit who is a super fit athlete, at first lost all sense of smell and taste with a runny nose and sore throat. On day 4 he complained of heaviness in his chest and some difficulty in breathing, he also experienced a low fever. The doctor immediately ordered a CT scan which revealed the he had a mild COVID-19 infection in his lungs. He was immediately put on antiviral medication. Though he felt woozy and weak, from day 7 onwards his temperature returned to normal and the symptoms eased.
On day 16 the doctor asked us to meet him for a checkup, after which he cleared us to end our quarantine.
He warned us not to exert ourselves for a further 45 days, and to expect some lingering weakness and occasional breathlessness. He said that Pavit would have some scarring of the lung tissue which would fade out over time.
How does COVID-19 attack the body?
Simply put, when the human body gets a chest infection, the body's immune system produces a phlegm like substance called Cytokines which helps contain and expel the infectious bacteria and virus.
The COVOD-19 virus fools the immune system to generate vast quantities of infection fighting Cytokines in a phenomenon called as 'Cytokine Storm'. This clogs up the lungs, impairing breathing and loss of oxygen to the blood and body. (That is why severe cases need the patients to be put on oxygen and in extreme cases to be put on a ventilator).
Now the focus has shifted to preventing the occurrence of 'Cytokine Storm' while reinforcing the human body's strength to fight off the virus.
This includes fortifying the body with multi-vitamins with particular focus on Vitamins C, D3, and Zinc. Blood thinning is achieved by taking Asprin which helps the blood absorb more oxygen.
To suppress the immune system from going into overdrive a steroid was prescribed. As a precaution a 5 day course of Erythromycin was taken to cope with any possible secondary infection that might occur.
We also took antacids and nausea preventing medication, which were quite helpful.
It is important to keep the body hydrated and we drank a lot of water and consumed no cold beverage of any kind. We also drank some home made grandmother's decoctions, which also soothed and healed us.
My friend the scientist Dr. Rajendra Jagdale based on studies and trials of the effect of Cardamom extract in successfully limiting the Cytokines sent me a packet of organic Cardamom extract to have as a dietary supplement, which we consumed 3 capsules a day and this appeared to help a lot.
Mohini and I were normal by day 5 and Pavit by day 10.
Just to be on the safe side and prevent infecting anyone else we decided to remain in quarantine for more than the recommended 14 days.
The Ro factor (measure of infectiousness) for COVID-19 is 2.5 which is that each infected person is likely to infect another 2.5 persons. Though a worrying factor it is is not very high as compared to say measles which has a Ro of 10.
The virus has entered into the general population and rates of infection are only going to rise exponentially. A healthy looking person without any symptoms is more likely to infect us than a person who is aware of his infection and taking quarantine precautions.
The population now has to brace itself and cope as best as possible.
Informal conversations with local chemists on the phone revealed that, looking at the medication being ordered by residents there were several case of COVID-19 in our housing society. I did not press for further details.
Global COVID-19 statistics show only 1% of infected cases as serious.
Fatalities are highest amongst people with co-morbidities and the aged, and amongst those who have neglected getting tested and treated in time.
Though we practiced social distancing wearing a mask when interacting with others, we still got infected. We suspect that the virus was picked up by our son at work.
Our body speaks to us and we should listen it rather than allowing our minds to convince ourselves to think otherwise.
When experiencing slightest doubt its better to get a COVID-19 test done and spend a small amount of money and inconvenience rather than go in for for expensive treatment and hospitalisation and great stress to oneself and others.
Though they can be of little or no help, neighbours, friends and relatives demand to be informed. The last thing infected people need with their stressed condition is is to be drowned in a barrage of phone calls, messages seeking and demanding more and more information. The only exception is to inform those we have been in contact with to take care. Since we did not have any such contact we withdrew into our quarantine.
The best person to suggest the treatment and isolation procedure is our doctor.
What I have narrated is our experience hoping it will be of use. It is not meant to be a guideline for what readers should do should not do.
Though the protocols for treatment are fairly well established, each individual is different, and treatment may vary and one should consult a physician.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth Busters - World Health Organisation
The COVID-19 Cytokine Storm; What We Know So Far - Frontiers in immunology
COVID-19: Are 80% cases in India really asymptomatic - Down to Earth
Fear does not stop death - Guru Wonder
Will Coronavirus COVID-19, kill me? - Guru Wonder