I remember when the father of my children died, the emergency room doctor told me, “his time had come. Even though he was at the cath lab’s table, he had no chance to survive because he had a massive heart attack. We are doctors, but not God. We can fight, but the supreme power always wins. We are just trying our best, but no one can change Almighty’s decision. We can fight, but in the end, things will happen according to his wishes”.
Yes, most medical professionals believe in the judgment of the Almighty. They are churchgoers. They also get sick, and their loved ones get too ill. They are all doing their work. They do all that they have sworn to do. Yes, physicians take an oath after passing medical school. They don’t have to take old version of the Hippocratic oath. Most medical schools has changed this oath to a new version. The Hippocratic pledge is historically an oath of ethics taken by physicians. It is most known in Unani medical texts. In its original form, a new healer is required by many healing gods to swear, to maintain specific moral standards. Hippocratic Oath: Hippocrates wrote one of the oldest binding documents in history, the oath is still considered sacred by physicians: treating the sick to the best of one’s ability, preserving patient privacy, drug secrets To teach the next generation, and so on.
Finally, after 4 months, and dealing with more than 7000 cases, and many unexpected exposures, this virus has somehow invaded my body. Remember, I am not only one. Many healthcare frontline workers has lost their lives to this virus.
On April 27, 2020, I felt some mild dry cough and nasal congestion, but there was no fever and no body aches. I did not felt sick at all. According to the work ethic and policy, I told my supervisor about my symptoms. I was permitted to work while using the N95 mask. The nurse kept checking my fever every two hours. I completed my 12 o’clock shift without any other symptoms. The next day again, I had no symptoms except mild dry cough and nasal congestion, which everyone blamed on the weather of the Windy City.
On Saturday, May 3, one of my nurses asked if I was alright. She noticed that I was using the abdominal muscles to breathe. My temp was normal again, and my oxygen level in the room air was 100%. The sound of my lungs was clear. I had three hours left to finish my shift when I started feeling like shit. I reported this to my supervisor. But I still didn’t have any fever, so I wanted to complete the rest of my shift. The department was busy, so I did not want to leave my other two colleagues high and dry. However, there was no negotiation at the table for me. I had to hand over my patients to my colleagues. In another situation, we had to work. Sometimes, we also work while sicker than our patients. However, it was also a matter of my colleagues’ health safety, so I left my work at around 9 o’clock.
I packed my luggage from my city house and went to live in my country house, which means 2.5 hrs away from my workplace. As I reached my country house, I had no energy left. So without taking a shower or drinking or eating anything, I went straight to bed. Around 2 am, I found myself sitting on the edge of my bed, burning with fever. I could feel hot air coming from my nose, mouth, and ears. My eyes were burning with fire. I checked my temperature, which was recorded at 105.7. In my professional career, I had seen the highest temp of a 14-year-old girl that was 106 F registered, but she was septic and half dead. However, I was sitting on the edge of my bed. I thought that perhaps the thermometer was not working correctly. I had many reasons to defend myself. I did not want to admit that I had a fever. I took some Tylenol and called my mentor and told him, “I need new glasses because I can’t read anymore.”
At 3 am, I woke up my mentor concerning my eyesight, which made him nervous, so he contacted at work and then made all the arrangements at the local hospital for my tests.
The next day, all my tests were arranged in the emergency room of the local hospital. I refused hospitalization. Instead of calling an ambulance, I drove to the hospital, which is only seven minutes away from my home. My nasal swab test came negative. Therefore, IgM testing and respiratory pathogen essay/PCR tests were performed and sent to the CDC laboratory. Both came highly positive. For more than ten days, I had suffered from high-grade fever and body aches. I did not like the temperature, but I liked a sharp and stabbing type of body aches because it helped to reduce my emotional pain. Only 4-5 people knew about my positive test and the severity of illness. I did not want anyone to call me or to knock or honking at my door. I just wanted to be alone. I forgot everything except my dead mother and Altaf. Every day, I used to fight them while burning with fever. Most of my time, I spend listening to both the Quran and Gurbani. I often talk to Allah and Babaji. Either I was talking to them or fighting with them, or I slept drowning in fever. I continue with my Ramadan fasting.
I felt like coronavirus ate up my brain cells. My head felt like an empty watermelon sitting on my neck, which could have exploded if I cough. I had to hold my head before cough, so I didn’t have a brain hemorrhage. Most of the time, my cough was dry. However, one day I have coughed up chunks of bright red blood. I had to go to the hospital again for scanning. Neither I had an embolism, TB, pulmonary edema, or any open sores on my chest cavity. I was offered hospitalization again, which I refused again. I did not want to be disturbed by call lights and monitor sounds. I had chosen to stay at home because it always keeps me close to Allah, Altaf, and Babaji. I had lost my appetite, smell, and taste. I’m a weirdo and thought I could smell coronavirus. My chest was so sore like someone had beaten my chest cavity with stones. When I breathe or yawn, it hurts like hell. Should I support my head or chest before having a cough? I had chosen to hold my head because my brain surgery is postponed until August.
I am not hungry at all. I force myself to drink water and juice because I do not want to be hospitalized. My tongue becomes like dry wood. I had trouble breathing if I walk to the bathroom. I was not afraid to die, but I did not want to leave without completing my tasks.
I am now in a recovery phase. No fever, but I still have a mild cough. I am getting my energy back. I am about to have an another test in a week again before returning to my job. I am ready to re-engage with my co-workers, but I still have to follow the work policies for my co-workers’ health safety. I am not the first person to return to the battlefield after recovering. Five of my colleagues went through the same thing as me. We are the inspiration for each other. My professional family and employer have provided me the best care while I am recovering alone in my countryside home.
There are many people to pray for me. Of course, the list of my enemies is much more extensive than that of my friends. I am in the recovery phase. My brain often forgets to transmit information to my respiratory center that it is time to breathe. No member of my family knows what is wrong with me. Do I need their help? They could not stand with me while I was fighting with the deadliest virus than coronavirus. Again, I was chosen to heal alone. I am 90% recovered, but my brain still has not coordinated with my respiratory center.
Controlling the fever is the most essential in the attack of coronavirus. I took Tylenol 650 mg every 4 hours. In between, I used ice packs under my neck and armpits. I used cold showers. I drink lots of vitamin C-rich juice, water and vitamins, and hot lemon/ginger tea, and of course, warm ginger/turmeric milk. Mucinex nighttime and Tessalon cough Perl helped control hacking cough. Most importantly, I did lung exercises every 1 hour to prevent pneumonia. People do not die directly from coronavirus but die from complications like pneumonia, dehydration, and kidney failure.
Thanks to the special caring people who do daily prayer for me, which include my catholic father at work, Moulvi Ji at local mosque, and Granthi ji at sikh temple, of course church lady, Nora, and some messenger of Allah at my beautiful Valley. As I always says, I have many almighty to protect me and love me. Remember there is always a almighty when humans leave you.
Finally, I pray for everyone. Please do not give this disease to the wrong people also. Do not panic if it knocks on your door. Take rest, lung exercise (deep breathing, cough), drink plenty of water, saltwater gurgling, and fight this virus with full strength. Do not let him scare you.
It is not only 14 days long battle. I am battling more than 14 days now. Therefore, please use social distancing, mask, and wash your hands. Educate each other.