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My COVID story: “How my 80-year-old grandpa with severe asthma survived COVID-19”

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A doctor from Amravati, currently on COVID duty recounts the time when COVID hit home and infected her 80-year-old asthmatic grandfather. She shares her experience of getting tested early and the strong willpower which helped her grandfather defeat the virus. Here’s their COVID story…

It all started in January 2021. We stay with our grandparents in Amravati. My mother being a paediatrician and me, an MBBS intern had to go to the hospital daily for work but we made sure to take all the necessary precautions and my father, an engineer used to assist my grandparents in their daily routine as he had to work from home. Even though everything was getting normalized and the social gatherings had started, we prevented ourselves by not attending any of them. Unfortunately in the mid of the month, my grandpa started to feel unwell. He just had a cough the first day. He has been an asthmatic patient for many years and in winters he generally gets a cough every year. We waited for two days but then he had a slight fever the third day. It was Sunday and his cough and temperature both increased and he was not even able to walk alone. We had to get him tested the next day. On Monday morning we got him tested and until the report came positive in the evening, his condition had started deteriorating. We took him for a CT scan and the virus had destroyed more than 50 per cent of his lungs. It was necessary to admit him to the COVID hospital.

We admitted him and his treatment was started along with the oxygen therapy. His weakness worsened in a day and he fell down in the washroom. His oxygen saturation started dropping so the doctors advised him to shift to the ICU. He was put on a BiPAP machine and he had to be given oxygen at the rate of 10 litres per minute. My father used to constantly motivate him over the cell phone but one morning he called my father by himself and said, this BiPAP machine is too suffocating and if you do not take me out of it, I would surely die here. Hearing this dad and mom both motivated him to be strong and co-operate to the treatment which is being given. All of us were terrified but we did not lose our hope because my grandfather was very fit and never failed to work out.

Fortunately the same day, I got posted in the COVID ward for the next 7 days. I was already getting exposed to the COVID patients in the hospital so I requested the doctor to kindly allow me to visit grandpa along with all the precautions as it was necessary to boost him up personally. Thanks to them as they allowed me to go and counsel him till the day he was out of danger. I had read and heard stories of my respected teachers and doctors who had survived covid even in their 70s. I felt it necessary to build up his will power to come out of the virus. We all knew the age factor was against us but this was the time to try our level best to bring him back home. He used to remove the BiPAP machine so constantly kept on telling him, we don’t want to see you get put on the ventilator. Because once you go on a ventilator, it will be very difficult to come back to normal. I asked him to keep patience and have faith, breathe deep and sleep in a prone position for the maximum duration possible. For every time I had lost all my hopes in life, he always stood next to me to tell me a story of a great man and how he overcame his struggles to be a successful person. To me, he was that great man who knew what I exactly needed all the time. It was my chance now to stand by him to save him back. I have no words for the utmost level of efforts my parents put in during this phase. They took care of all the proper diet and stood strong. The day when his oxygen saturation was dropping, the doctor suggested that Inj. Tocilizumab could be administered. Knowing it to be a two-way weapon, the next 24-48 hours was a very difficult time. Fortunately, he was maintaining borderline saturation the next day. He was witnessing ICU deaths every day. He saw many people whom he knew dying in front of him. His younger brother, who is also an ENT surgeon, visited him twice in the ICU and it was only because of the prayers of the family members which boosted his morale. My paternal aunt who had come to Amravati to visit us 15 days back was also with us. We all including my grandma who has comorbidities were not having any symptoms but unfortunately, my aunt started to feel unwell and after testing for COVID, her report came to be positive. She had breathlessness and so too had to be hospitalized. She was admitted to the same hospital where grandpa was there. In the meantime, grandpa could be shifted to the room from ICU. We kept my aunt and grandpa in the same room so that he could get support from his daughter. He was good for a day but the next night, he again fell in the washroom. Since my aunt was there to assist him, he was saved and shifted to ICU immediately as his oxygen saturation had dropped down. Aunt was discharged from the hospital and grandpa was in the ICU. It took him more than 7 days to get discharged as his platelets decreased. Even the doctors on discharge said, “Uncle you have a very strong will power.” We finally brought him home after 22 days. We had seen many patients get admitted again after getting reinfected and then not getting back home, this had warned us, but we are not losing hope. He suffered from many opportunistic infections after discharge and fighting with them too. Today, my grandpa is turning 81 and is doing well.

Being working in the COVID wards and looking at the current scenario, I want to just say that never take it for granted even if you find the slightest symptoms, please get yourself tested and in case you test positive, don’t lose hope. Will power is the best medicine along with a proper diet and medication is a must. The disease takes a deadly course very fast so then it becomes difficult for the doctors as well as the patient. It scares us to death when our loved ones get admitted to the COVID ward. Stay safe.

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DISCLAIMER

The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for a physician’s advice. Please consult your treating physician for more