This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Deepali Bansal. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

I Tested Positive For COVID-19 And This Is What The Road To Recovery Was Like!

I write this today with the hope that it ends up helping some readers on how to navigate the uncertainty that comes with being tested positive for COVID-19.

Your results are back, and you have been tested positive for COVID-19.”

These words rang in my ear undifferentiated from the dream I was having, moments earlier. The sleepiness, with which I had answered my phone, was jarringly disturbing as reality hit me like a splash of cold water.

It was May 29, day 12 of having COVID-like symptoms. I still wasn’t sure whether I was relieved with the certainty, or anxious because of the uncertainty that lay ahead.

I had a million thoughts racing in my mind alone, interspersed with those of my husband’s. And, within the next few minutes, our home resembled the atmosphere of a call centre, with calls from our family members and follow up calls from our physician and pharmacist, who were informed by our municipality — the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Two officials from the BMC visited our home within the next hour. They had a caring disposition, that unnerved me almost immediately. They asked basic questions of me including symptoms, family size, home size, and more. They recommended I be hospitalised and the rest of my family be home quarantined. In keeping with the protocol, they enquired about the health of our immediate neighbours and a floor above and below ours. However, there was no sealing of the floor or society.

Since I was suffering from a severe cough, we decided not to take any risk and go ahead with hospitalisation. But, the question was — which hospital? How do we make the choice?

We ended up calling the COVID and BMC helplines, and they suggested going we go for private treatment. The search for a private hospital seemed futile — either no beds were available or there was a long waitlist. Finally, we managed to get a bed in one of the renowned hospitals in western suburbs of Mumbai through some influence.

As per hospital policy, the patient would have to be transported via an ambulance alone, and one family member can tail the vehicle (if needed, for hospital administrative paperwork.  The ambulance arrived within a few hours. My bag was ready with the necessary stuff, I boarded the ambulance while my husband followed it in our car.

Representational image. Image credit: Anuwar Ali Hazarika / Barcroft Studios / via Getty Images)

We were charged close to ₹8,000 for a short ride. I was allowed inside the hospital gate only after a minimum deposit of ₹1 lakh was paid. The billing personnel came to the gate to complete the formalities — they accepted payment only via card/net banking from relatives. No card/cash is accepted from the COVID patient.

The ambulance dropped me inside the hospital’s COVID-19 section entry point. I was given directions to reach the ward. Due to paucity of space, I was allotted a general ladies COVID-19 ward, since a private or sharing room was unavailable.

There were 25 beds in the ward and patients occupied alternate beds initially. I was given a bed, hospital dress and an N-95 mask. A nurse took my vitals and a blood sample for the analysis. Soon after, a doctor did a check-up, followed by a radiologist, who performed a mobile X-ray analysis. At 2 am, I was taken for a CT scan. (The hospital tries to schedule CT scans for COVID patients at night).

These tests are the standard protocol, irrespective of the symptoms or consent, but obviously, adding towards a hefty bill.
I couldn’t sleep that night, kept replaying the events of the past 2 weeks. On May 16, I had driven to our neighbourhood pharmacy and fruit seller, taking all necessary precautions i.e. mask, gloves, sanitiser. This was my first trip in 30 days for some urgent needs. The area was not crowded, and people followed social distancing. As soon as I got back home, I had taken a bath and sanitised all the items I purchased. This was, by far, the only incident that I can link to my testing positive.

Representational image.

May 18 onwards, I started developing classic COVID-like symptoms, with 103 fever. I was in touch with our general physician, who recommended blood tests to rule out all other possibilities, whilst prescribing me a flu course. When the tests came back negative, with no sight of my symptoms going away, we requested for a COVID-19 test referral. By now I was on day 10 of my symptoms. I drove to a private test centre for a nasal and throat swab and received the dream-breaking call within 48 hours.

I was prescribed vitamin tablets, acidity tablets, cough syrup, gargling syrup and hydroxychloroquine. Warm water was being given to all the patients in the flask. Meals were served as per a nutritionist’s diet plan. Since the day of my hospitalisation, I had no fever.

Representational image. Image Credit: Quartz India

Meanwhile, at home, my husband and my father (who lived in the next building, and visited us during meals) developed mild fever and some weakness along with anxiety, which subsided with prescribed medication and home remedies. As suggested by the BMC and doctors, testing wasn’t done for them but they followed a strict home quarantine protocol.

Time went by in the hospital speaking to folks around, sharing their experiences.

After five days of my medication, I was unfortunately tested positive for COVID again on June 4. All drugs, except hydroxychloroquine, were continued. An additional medicine was also prescribed and a test was to be conducted after 48–72hrs. On June 7, I was finally tested negative and discharged.

I felt like a warrior. Yes, I had fought the deadly Coronavirus!

On reaching home, I followed strict home quarantine for the next 14 days. Even though I had no symptoms, I could still be an active carrier, so I was supposed to be isolated from family members too — confined to one room with separate utensils. On day 14, I had a scheduled video consultation with the doctor, and I was finally free. I met my son after one whole month (he was shifted to my father’s place the first day my symptoms showed.)

It was a fight, a constant one, every single day. Your immune system along with your willpower is the only vaccine till date.

Representational image. Credit: Reuters

Symptoms I Showed

  • Day 1: Body ache, headache
  • Day 2 to 5: High fever (103) with a severe headache and a loss of appetite.
  • Day 6: 102 fever, body ache, little chills, 30% loss of taste (Tested negative for Malaria, Dengue and other routine blood tests.)
  • Day 7–11: 101 fever, Severe dry coughing but no sore throat, weakness.
  • Day 12: No fever, severe cough, slight breathlessness (Tested Positive for COVID-19 and hospitalized).
  • Day 13- 21: Severe dry coughing, slight breathlessness, taste buds normal, regaining appetite (Hospitalized)
  • Day 22–35: Slight weakness, no other symptoms (Home quarantine)

The Medication I Took

Antibiotics, Vitamins and other medicines as prescribed by doctors along with home remedies including steam, hot water gargle, turmeric milk, herbal tea (kadha).

I’d Like To Thank

  • Our Society for supporting us at every stage and ensuring that our family had everything we could possibly need. In these testing times, the immediate help was always from the building members and all of them stood magnificently for our support.
  • Family, relatives, friends, and colleagues for providing all the moral support.
  • Hospital and all the health workers for treating the patients patiently.
  • BMC tracking system; officials were in constant touch to enquire about our health status.
  • Government for allowing insurance cover for a pandemic.
  • Special thanks to my 4-year-old child for understanding and staying without his parents for the first time for an entire month.
  • The outpour of support that we received, even from complete strangers, has humbled us and we are extremely thankful to each and every person who helped us in any way.
The best and simplest protection against Coronavirus: washing hands.

My Advice

  • It’s a keen request to everyone to keep the immunity strong by having healthy food, herbal spices, multivitamins, exercise, yoga, adequate sleep and all the other ways suggested by experts.
  • With the increasing cases, there are still chances of getting the virus even after taking all the necessary precautions of sanitisation and social distancing.
  • Stronger the immunity, more the chances of being asymptomatic/ mild symptomatic.
  • If there is no breathlessness /other chronic illness, it’s better to be home quarantined and take the home remedies and medication as advised by a doctor. There are many hospitals coming up with home quarantine packages with online doctor assistance.
  • In case of hospitalisation, enquire thoroughly for the type of ward/room, charges, insurance coverage, and other facilities. And, while getting discharged, make sure you collect all the required reports, bills, prescriptions, medication, as getting the stuff back from the hospital might not be feasible in the current situation.
  • In case you have mild symptoms, getting tested for COVID is not necessary but start the prescribed medication, home remedies along with a strict self-isolation for 14 days, followed by sanitization of the house.
  • Don’t believe in the myth that one can’t get the virus again. The virus has a lot of mutations. Although antibodies develop in the body, it can reoccur. It might be mild or asymptomatic but still one may become an active carrier. So, all safety precautions are to be followed.
  • Lastly do not panic, when in doubt contact your family doctor immediately. Be vigilant and protect yourselves.

Featured image for representation only.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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