If I thought that my 39th birthday was a nightmare; time to put things into perspective cuz my 40th was the REAL disaster, the one that I’ll never forget and the one which makes everything else up until this moment sound like a spa treatment.
Let’s start from the START
I decided to visit India, not a day or a month ago from when I did; but this trip was on the cards for our entire family from Dec’ 2020 (Christmas makes you emotional). I am very attached to my folks (not sure if my heart ruling the head is my best quality) and the prep work for the trip to India began right from Jan’2021. I had to get our passports renewed (the 6-month validity clause) and in the middle of the pandemic – the procedure was cumbersome. If you’d like to read more about, “how to do this”, click here. But please, refrain from travelling at this point, stay put! (Cautionary tale ahead.)
Since the passports did not arrive in time, I postponed the travel from the February break to the March one, we have 2 main cities when we visit India as a family – New Delhi and Mumbai. We booked only my tickets, cuz, Mumbai had started to show high number of cases and an institutional quarantine was being put in place. At last, it was decided, that only I was going to go, New Delhi was still a safer bet to take.
Everything went fine, I travelled business class, I took multiple RT PCR tests during the trip, I spent time with my family and also met some friends, I got my dental surgery done but the number of cases accelerated during the final part of my stay. So much so that, I was not meeting anyone and was staying put – avoiding any kind of exposure till my return flight. We had booked a trip to Udaipur for my 40th but we cancelled that, then we thought of a road trip to Agra but that also went south as a curfew was announced in Delhi for the birthday weekend!
The situation had become extremely depressing with the lockdown and every second person turning COVID positive. My family and I only prayed for my safe travel back home (by this point I had forgotten everything about my 40th), with an ever-evolving situation in India, one could only second guess the flight restrictions.
I tested positive for COVID a day after I returned from India, it appeared rather quickly and hit me pretty damn hard! Since, I had tested negative 24 hours before my departure, and I travelled in a rather empty business class – the only place I could have contracted the virus was at the Delhi Airport. Due to the curfew situation, I left for the airport way before time; the check in was not smooth at all (thank you Lufthansa, story for another day), but despite everything I had too much time to kill at the airport. Strangely it all felt very odd, nothing like it had ever felt like before (strong believer of vibes) – the lounge was shut due to COVID which meant larger exposure at the gate of a full flight. I was double masked, I sanitized a gazillion times and I sat isolated for the longest time – but it still hits you, it’s the way this virus is!
After coming home, I kept feeling tired, but I put it aside – “must be jet lag!” I tested myself the next day with the RAPID antigen kit at home and was COVID negative. But by the evening; I was experiencing chills (I couldn’t change sides, I was shivering that bad) and started burning up – by the morning, I took another rapid test and this time I was positive. ☹
I immediately wore a mask (thank god I slept alone in the guest bedroom), informed my husband and self-isolated. We cancelled school (informed them) and an RT PCR test to be a 100% sure was in order. But before, the results could come in – there was no doubt in my mind that I had COVID. I was experiencing very strong symptoms; the only relief was that my husband tested negative.
- If you’re in Switzerland, please make sure you collect or order the RAPID antigen tests to conduct home tests (5 free tests per month per person). They come with very clear instructions that one must follow and can put your doubts to rest. Find more information here.
- After testing positive, please get a follow up RT PCR test, which also carries your CT score. The CT score indicates how infectious you are. Here is more info on that.
Everyone experiences COVID in their own unique way; hence an indicator like the loss of taste/smell is not uniform or true for all. In fact, I never lost my sense of taste or smell.
Here is what I went through: At the onset, I experienced a sore throat, high fever, and chills. In addition to this, I started to experience headaches, dizziness, exhaustion, and also got a cold. Your muscles also start to hurt, and your body starts to feel very weak by day 4; after the 4th day my fever came down… it remained low grade and I started experiencing terrible nausea. None of the meds were helping me till day 8, which meant I just could not eat. I still pushed myself and made sure I remained hydrated.
It was only by day 10 or so, that I started to feel slightly better – I was still low on energy, but my blood work looked encouraging. There was some sort of inflammation, but I was on the road to recovery.
Despite isolation and disinfecting surfaces, my husband caught the virus by the time I reached day 6 and went down by day 7. Since the virus is extremely infectious it’s hard to contain it if you live under the same roof.
My husband’s reaction to the virus was much more severe, we had to seek medical help. (He is doing better now and is recuperating.) My 10-year-old escaped the virus but seeing her parents go down and experiencing isolation wasn’t a pleasant experience for her either. She tried her best to remain calm and was able to distract herself with Netflix and other digital aids. I ordered her several puzzles and art supplies…this helped a lot as well. (If you’re thinking, No, I did not care if my child was watching too much TV at this time! We were literally surviving from one day to the other!)
- Try to keep the vibe at home, as normal as possible. Yes, it is scary to contract COVID but treat it like a normal flu. Rather than panicking, disinfect surfaces and follow isolation guidelines.
- For children, be honest with them, tell them what has happened and gain their confidence. You’re all in this together and need to fight it as a unit!
COVID care at HOME
90% of the COVID affected patients recover at home with minimal medical supervision. Just like a flu, it runs its own course of approximately 14 days after which you start feeling better. I recovered at home and while I did not get as much time to rest, I remain very thankful to my body and the encouragement I received to come out of it!
- I have seen a generic COVID prescription floating around on FB/WhatsApp groups to treat patients. Like I said before, the virus attacks everyone in its own unique way. Some people remain asymptomatic, some of us recover at home and some need medical support. Do not medicate based on someone else’s prescription.
- Do not panic – easier said than done, I was an emotional wreck myself but your inner strength and support from your friends and family plays a big role.
- After you’ve tested positive, don’t forget to inform everyone you’ve been in contact with to watch out for symptoms or better still, get tested.
- Isolation is hard, not just mentally but also practically. Especially when mammas of young children and care givers are affected, always bear in mind, your isolation is the biggest form of support that you can offer to your near and dear ones.
- Things that you need: a digital thermometer, an oximeter, paracetamol, vitamins, antacids and anti-nausea pills. I also kept an electric kettle and a face steamer inside my room: for steaming and gargles. Also have masks, gloves, tissues and disinfectant stocked up in your room.
- Medicines I took: Paracetamol for the fever on need basis, vitamin C and Zinc, Vitamin D which was as per my normal prescription, antacids and anti-nausea meds (on need basis). Note: Unless prescribed, antibiotics, anti-viral and steroids should not be taken.
- It’s important that you constantly ventilate your room; to be honest, fresh air was the best form of therapy I was receiving.
- Keep a check on your oxygen levels in case it is going lower than 90 you need medical intervention. Also, if your fever is over 102°F for an extended period – ask your doctor for advice.
- Eat well and if that’s too hard, make sure you remain hydrated – plain water, sparkling water, lemon water, ors, salt and sugar water, coconut water, soups, teas, and other aerated drinks. Try to drink as much as possible.
- Keep your laundry inside your room and try to eat in disposables if possible and disinfect any common surfaces in your house repeatedly.
- Do not leave your room without a mask; also remain prepared. Since the new variant is airborne and extremely infectious – your family might get it!
- Seek help – Since the other members in your household (even if unaffected) are also quarantined – rely on online deliveries, also ask family/friends to help. If you’re struggling with essentials, please seek help from the state health department during your regular check ins every morning.
- Lastly, well I really hope that you don’t get it at all; if you’re eligible and have been/not been COVID affected – get vaccinated! Please remember that we are not out of the woods; not yet.
Disconnect from Social Media
For my own sanity, I had to disconnect from Insta/FB/WhatsApp during my illness as my home country was in shambles and however strong your mental makeup, one cannot stop themselves from imagining the worst.
I did watch a lot of upbeat content on Netflix, Prime and YouTube; here are some of my recommendations – Stand Ups from Gaurav Kapoor, Gaurav Gupta, Upmanyu, Aakash Gupta and our good old Russell Peters. I was repeating stuff, sometimes things were running just in the background to instill some calm in my life! I saw the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Modern Family, Friends and Andaaz Apna Apna. I also saw, the new movie Sania on Prime, which I would recommend everyone to SKIP! (Bad movies get you mad and make you forget; all my choices were working well for me 😉)
Mental Health is Health
Since I was the carrier in our family; I was facing insane amounts of fear, guilt, and helplessness. These feelings obviously do not help with recovery; it either slows down the process or makes matters worse! I knew my triggers and I would use a lot of distraction and seek support from my family through video calls during moments of despair.
- Focus on getting better; no one wants to fall ill, and it isn’t uncommon to.
- Look for a lot of positive reinforcement – seek help if you need to!
- Breathing exercises – Not only are these good for your recovery but slow breathing signals your brain to relax your body and lowers stress.
- Connect with your near and dear ones – do regular check ins.
- Stick to a healthy routine – getting up at a set time, personal hygiene, healthy meals, fresh air, doing things you enjoy during isolation, light journaling etc.
- Being kind to yourself – this is the one I struggled with the most, but also realized how important this one was for my inner strength.
- Reach out for professional help – If you need medical intervention, do not hesitate to call your GP/Emergency.
State Health Department
After testing positive, some one from state health apartment gets in touch with you via phone and asks you some basic questions. Symptoms, contacts, your isolation period are communicated to you during this time.
- They ask you to download an app for your city; in my case it was the COVID Care App Basel which is password protected and is available in English, German, French and Italian.
- Through the app, you are supposed to answer questions regarding your health condition each day and calls are scheduled as per your answers.
- In case your condition worsens, they call you to indicate next steps otherwise the check ins are after every 3-4 days.
- The last check in is on the last day of your isolation, almost like a sign off to your release into the world again 😉
I am not sure if this was a very helpful feature; but it was somehow reassuring and like a good student I abided by the rules of our canton.
It’s good to remain in touch with your GP through the course of the illness and if your symptoms or conditions worsen (difficulty in breathing, high fever, bluish lips, confusion/disillusionment or others) then it is recommended to contact the emergency department.
Help India Breathe
I believe you all must have come across the horrific visuals and struggles of the people in India as the country battles the worst COVID crises ever. While it’s a pity to even question the political situation in India, an overwhelming support has come through the power of social media – verified leads, oxygen cylinders and concentrators, medication support, plasma donors, food, doctor consultations and what not! At this time, strangers from all over the country and other parts of the world have been saving lives and helping India breathe again.
While everyone might not have the capacity (mental or physical) or simply can’t engage deeply in relief work, here are some small, yet impactful ways in which you can still do your part:
- Donate – Foundations such as Hemkunt, Mission Oxygen India, Khalsa Aid, Akshay Patra, Uday foundation and others are helping India fight COVID.
- Plasma – There is a shortage of Plasma donors and the demand for it keeps increasing by the day. So, if you know someone living in India who has recovered from COVID in the last 3-4 months, please do encourage them to donate plasma. Do not forget to check the criterion for the same. (Check out: Dhoond)
- AMPLIFY verified resources; or HELP in sharing verified resources. – Instagram/twitter/Facebook is filled with COVID resources and sometimes, it becomes overwhelming for the person in need to actually find out the available ones. (Yes, the situation is so bad that the resources and leads get exhausted within minutes) So, if you see someone in need; take the initiative to share some self-verified leads with them.
Disclaimer: Please do your own research and use your discretion before making any financial transaction.
Well I hope this article will help people who are struggling with COVID, my idea was not to scare you but to share my experience with you. I really hope and pray for the well being of everyone who is suffering at the moment. The light at the end of this tunnel, yes there is the light – keep a safe distance, disinfect, and sanitize, wear masks and get vaccinated as soon as you can.
Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for more May posts, cuz spring is finally here. We will continue to talk about body positivity, health, happiness, ex-pat, and travel tips.
To read posts from April, click here