I have recovered from COVID 19. It is a divine blessing – because in the course of navigating the disease, I understood clearly that the world, including the doctors who are bravely battling it, do not know much about this virus yet. The treatment regimen is there, but seems tentative and there are no assurances on offer – of any kind! When the result comes ‘positive’ – the experience is frightening, and the next two weeks are excruciatingly lonely and isolating. As one crosses the danger mark, and the disease recedes slowly, hope and life seem to beckon again.
My daughter, who works in Paris, flew home the next day after I contracted COVID. She was there for the crucial two weeks, hovering like a shadow near the doorway of my out of bound room. She talked to doctors, got medicines, arranged food, and was only a shout away as she spent her time in the verandah outside my room. I could not touch her or hug her, but knowing she was around gave me courage. The young person coming and taking over lightened the burden for my husband, and me.
Children, please make time to be with your parents if they are infected – it gives them strength and hope. Bosses and colleagues – understand and give people time off to tend to those who are sick. It is a fallacy to think that because the patient is in isolation, family presence is not important.
When COVID hits a home, food becomes a major issue. In my case, my house help was also positive, so there was no one to cook food. For two weeks food poured in from friends, office colleagues and family. People rallied around and not a day went when we had to think for a minute where or who to call for food. Ordering in food is not an option for the patient – when sick one just wants to eat simple home food! If anyone in your office or your locality is down with COVID please enquire and provide meals whenever possible. Every COVID house needs that help.
My husband, like most men of his age and vintage, does not know his way around the kitchen at all. But he changed when our home was hit with COVID. He began to make tea for me; ensured food came outside my room at the right time – hot and steaming. From using the microwave to making hot traditional ‘giloy’ drink – he learnt it all. Men – cooking and surviving is an essential life skill. There is no age or stage when it cannot be picked up, and going forward each of us will need to navigate the kitchen on our own at some time or the other. So, start now.
As a COVID patient I lived in one room for 21 days and nights continuously. The phone and radio were my only companions. Receiving a steady stream of messages from friends enquiring about my well being was a reassuring feeling. It gave a sense that people outside that confining room cared and were concerned about me. Don’t call sick people – most of the time one does not want to talk. But do message them and stay in touch – it is a great way to cheer up the sick person. COVID apart from being scary, tiring and making you ill, also teaches you the pain of isolation. In this sickness you have to monitor your parameters yourself, clean yourself, your surroundings, pick up your food from the doorway and basically learn to be with yourself. A message from a friend or family is like a breath of fresh air. So please take the time to reach out.
Currently, the virus is still spreading and most of us know of homes that have COVID patients. If there is one thing I learnt during this sickness is that unless we become kind and compassionate towards one another, going forward, this period is going to become increasingly difficult to navigate. COVID might mean isolation and social distancing, but that does not mean we do not strengthen the bonds of humanity and kindness that bind us together as a civilization.