I tested positive for COVID-19. This awful and lingering virus gave me the symptoms.I’ve experienced to this day that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. My story is to inform you that this is not the common cold or the regular flu and it is not a hoax.
I am Sachina Paudel, an experienced public health professional from Nepal. With the starting of the pandemic, I was leading Case Investigation and Contact Tracing Team (CICTT) for COVID19 in Bharatpur Metropolitan City. By August, it had reached 500 active cases and it started as being a 24- hour work. I couldseldom get time to sleep because my phone buzzes every time with confirmed and suspected cases. The PCR test, result, symptoms, and their emotional state were the topics of discussion. I motivate them for not worrying and maintain health, hygiene, and isolation throughout the period. I also need to visit places for PCR, contact tracing; whenever I have to make interaction with positive patients I used to keep any interactions brief and wear a medical mask. Besides, we used to have a spot where suspected people were tested for COVID19.
One day,in September 2020, I thought of testing myself as I was suffering from a cold and cough and thinkingI may have exposed while working. Lab personnel took my swab from my nasopharynx at around 7 AM. Afterward, throughout the day,I continued working for contact tracing through my phone. In the evening my cold was worse, I thought that might be because of an allergy of chemical in the bud, whichwas used for collecting swab.After sometime, I started having a headache and suddenly my body temperature rises 102 degrees Celsius. My parents thought I might be freaking because I was going to get laboratory resultswithin some. My mom asked me to relax, I did calm but my body temperature did not tranquil. Afterward, my body (especially my hand and legs) started aching.
I felt the COVID19 virus inside my body. I took paracetamol and waited for the report wishing I might be mistaken; it could be some other infection rather than COVID19. Dr. Neeta (Lab specialist working in COVID19 lab) called me at around 11 pm; she asked me ‘How are you feeling?’ The moment she asked me, I knew I became a victim of COVID19; indeed, I was positive. Then the fear set in. Even though working in the same field I felt worried, hopeless, and mentally stressed. I was suddenly no longer just a public health professional - I was an ordinary mortal! And I was scared. What would it entail? I was worried for my parents and my sister (what if I had transmitted to them), How was my family going to be treated, how were my colleagues and co-workers going to react? I was so scared for my sister with whom I shared my room and exchanged my clothes, and for my parents. I was angry with myself for not doing a better job of at-home quarantine from my family while working in a risk zone. After I hung up, I couldn’t hold back anymore and completely broke down. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.
My parents arranged a separate room, washroom for me, and my isolated started. I couldn’t sleep at night. Apart from the physical symptoms including the hot flashes, the fever, and the body aches that made me discomfort all day and night, the mental exhaustion and anxiety are almost just as crippling.I knew that my family, colleagues, and all the people I had met in the recent past were going to be tested for this deadly virus regardless of their being asymptomatic. My CT level was 28.9, which had fewer chances of transmission known through research, but everything was just new for this virus. After 5 days, they all tested; all negative! Praise to the Lord - I had not managed to spread the infection to any of my immediate contacts- not my family.
I was on regular contact with doctors, as according to their expertise I was loaded up with medicines: Paracetamol (for fever), Azithromycin (Secondary infection), Fexofenadine (allergy), and daily multivitamins. As suggested by some experts, I monitored my oxygen saturation, pulse rate, regularly. Besides, with modern medicine I also continued with Ayurveda; basically for increasing my immunity. I took Giloy (Tinosporacordifolia) which is known as Gurjo in Nepali, Honey Tonic (honey, herbal extract, and ethanol), tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Calamus (Bojo in Nepali), Jethimadhu, and other herbal medicines. I had difficulties while talking but I could connect via technology, Thanks to technology, I could manage my connection with them. I would like to acknowledge doctors, my parents, relatives, office colleagues, and my friends who were continually supporting me.
I had experienced almost every (most to less common) symptoms; fever, headaches, dry cough, body aches and pains, common cold, tiredness, sore throat, taste diminished, vision blur though I ate and maintained my diet, had regular breathing exercises (Yoga). After days, I woke up in the usual sweats from the night before, but felt no fever or chills during the day—I felt much improved but I still had a cough, body aches. I told myself I would take it easy that day since I thank God that I did not have to experienced serious symptoms, which could be the reason for my hospital admission. I was begging and pleading to God for an end to all of this.I was hopeful I have made it through the worst means now everything will be okay.
Some of the practiced that my parents followed for me were incredible. My parents arranged 3 times vaporization for me (morning, day, and before going to bed), also provided me balanced diet (more focused on protein), turmeric water with lemon, giloy, tulsi, bojho, and other herbs (twice a day), milk with turmeric (twice a day), gargled (twice a day). They were worried if my symptoms get worse. My near and dear ones gave me motivation throughout. Thank you everyone who is helping me to overcome this.
I am still wondering and pondering how could I have got the Coronavirus - I had no recent travel history; I had not encountered anyone who had been abroad (at least to the best of my knowledge). I've always been meticulous about cleanliness and hand hygiene. I was wearing a mask at work and while interacting with COVID19 patients and suspected one, and maintaining 2-meter social distancing, washing my hands - using a sanitizer frequently during my work. I have no idea who gave me this virus but working in risk zone of COVID world I became a member of same family. I was thinking of testing before my birthday (25 September) possibly, so that could be a big birthday present for me if I tested as negative!
Bingo! Similar happened. That was a huge birthday gift for me. The rebirth from COVID19. Thank you everyone who were supporting me continuously. Also, hereby I am telling my story means I am requesting you everyone to be careful everywhere and every time. Please wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Prevention is better than cure!
(Paudel is public health officer in Bharatpur Metropolitan, working as a team leader in Case Investigation and Contact tracing in COVID19.)