My Encounter with the Pandemic: Covid-19 (Extracts)

Vineet Kumar Das, Chief Manager, State Bank of India, Institute of Learning & Development, Deoghar, Jharkhand

On Sunday, 21st June, I developed mild body ache which persisted until next morning. Over the next few days, I developed various physical symptoms, I felt tired, feverish, heaviness in the nose; I lost the sense of taste. In the morning of 27th, I noticed that I had lost the sense of smell, and I feared that I might be trapped by Covid-19, especially as one person in the department had been diagnosed positive with the corona virus.

I consulted a local doctor after taking an appointment over the telephone and duly narrating him the symptoms and health conditions. He was a nice human being who advised me to come after two hours. When I entered his clinic I kept social distancing and used a mask throughout. The doctor said that he would refer me for a Covid test in case the situation did not improve in the next three days. He kept close watch on me.

On 28th and 29th, my situation worsened, I completely lost smell and taste, whereas the fever remained at the same level. I was unable to smell the sharpest of aromatic thing; Dettol, Phenol, Vicks, they were not at all detectible.

Two of my sense organs were not working properly and even my skin, the sense of touch, was also slightly numbed. I was unable to completely feel the touch of anything in its natural order. I felt that my senses and sensitivity had been hijacked by someone and I was not in total control. I was taken aback to know that my office head was diagnosed with Covid positive in Kolkata.

On 30th June, I requested one of our senior colleagues to arrange for Covid tests for all the officials. By that time, I was suffering from a complete loss of smell and taste, fever, and a feeling of absent-mindedness. Although I was not having any congestion in the chest or any respiratory disorder or any pain in the throat, with all knowledge which I had about Covid-19, I was sure that I was a Covid affected person. I faced it boldly because I knew that there was no medicine for this disease.

Many people hide themselves and don’t tell anyone if they are found Covid positive. When I was going for testing, I had informed my neighbour and the caretaker of the apartment and also told them that one of my colleagues at the office had been found positive. I was aware that society could show only minimal sympathy for Corona patients, nevertheless I did this as a responsible citizen. Thanks to the Almighty I mustered courage to remain balanced.

From 30th June to 3rd July, I contacted a few of my friends who had already faced Covid victoriously and were experienced. I took their advice seriously, although still waiting for my report. I happened to be of the opinion that precautionary measures must be started religiously as soon as any symptom came into notice. Most people wait for the test report to come before they start any precautionary measures. It is a very common mistake that may push them on to the back foot.

My routine during home isolation

  • I used to wake up at 6 a.m. and take 2 glasses of hot water.
  • After getting fresh, I gargled with hot water, salt and Betadine gargle solution.
  • I performed yoga (kapalbhati, anulomvilom, bhastrika) followed by reciting of the Mahamrityunjay mantra 21 times. Later I also included recital of the 32 names of Durga as chanted by Swamiji during yoga camps.
  • I used Kadha made of natural ingredients viz., tulsi, ginger, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon and giloy powder 2 to 3 times a day, alternating it with hot lemon water. I used to relax momentarily, but again the same state of body and mind would resume and I would feel overpowered. I felt that taking a large dose of these was not as relieving as taking small amounts very frequently.
  • I also inhaled vapour of hot water mixed with Vicks frequently.
  • When these things were not yielding fast results, my wife suggested jal neti kriya. She bought one pot for doing this and persuaded me to do it. She knew that jal neti used to be very effective in cleansing the nasal area as she used to practise during her school days. Moreover, I contacted Swami Dharmrakshitji, for providing inputs on doing jal neti. He sent me some write up and asked to follow it meticulously. During 1st to 4th July, I did jal neti 3 times a day with lukewarm water (300 to 400 ml) mixed with ½ tsp of salt. On every practice and its repetition, I started feeling better and better. From 2nd, I sensed that my taste started improving and the improvement continued.
  • I was following a very simple diet and other than the medicine prescribed by the doctor, I was taking Giloy Tablet (2 Tab Twice), Ashwagandha Tablet (2 Tab Twice) and a cough syrup (Swasari Prawahi – 2 tsp x thrice)

Tested positive

On the afternoon of 4th July, I received a call from the Government Hospital, Deoghar, asking about my whereabouts. The person on the phone did not tell me anything about my report. I was a little surprised. I told my senior colleague at the office about it. He assured me to update. After half an hour, I received a call from him stating that I was tested positive for Covid. When I got this news, I was worried about the members of my family. A team of health workers arrived near my apartment to carry me to the Covid Centre. All the residents of the apartment were looking at the happenings with curiosity and fear. I came down with a few essentials like clothes and medicines in a bag. One of the members of the hospital team captured the moment in his camera and asked me to take a seat inside the ambulance. I was not fearful at all as I knew that these things were happening on a daily basis in the surroundings, but I was worried about my family members.

The next day, I was in the news of the local daily newspaper, easily identifiable by my orange T-shirt imprinted with BSY Silver Jubilee stamp which I had put on that day. I was just looking at what was happening without having any idea of what was happening.

At the centre

I was taken to the Covid Centre, a far off place around 8 to 9 kms away from town. I found that I was the only person staying there. It was like a lonely community hall having a boundary, but all gates were open allowing free access to animals. The place known as Guest House, had two storeys with a collapsible grill at the entrance and quite a few single rooms inside. I was told to go inside and the grill was closed. I somehow managed to talk to the district authorities and requested them to provide a night guard. There was no fan, no bulb, and no facility for regular drinking water or hot water. I will always remain thankful to all my friends, working with me, who arranged every essential for me and made my stay there comfortable. This was the place where quarantined people were placed for recovery. Next day five patients were quarantined from the same family. The situation was getting scary.

A team of health workers collected samples of the family members the very next day. Sanitization of the home was arranged by NDRF, the National Disaster Relief Force, team. Health workers were on the rescue of all affected, risking their lives. I heartily salute these guys, who remain always ready to face any situation as their duty.

I spent five days at the quarantine centre with a positive mind and approach towards life. I was a usual listener of SYP (Satyam Yoga Prasad), an app of Bihar School of Yoga, Munger. I used to listen to the teachings of Gita delivered by Swami Satyananda Saraswati and kirtans of Swamiji. The spiritual connection that I had developed always kept me hopeful and lively. Swami Dharmrakshitji sent one photograph of Swamiji on my mobile wherein Swamiji was bearing a godly smile on his face. His smile and blessings were reassuring me of the return of health and happiness.

One day during quarantine, I was thinking, ‘What will happen if I don’t recover?’ Spontaneously, a sense of gratitude emerged in my mind provoking me to realize the existence of the Almighty. I completely surrendered to God and convinced myself that God owned this body or kaya, this soul or atma, and none are in my control, so what is there to worry about! The care which I was taking to cure the body was karma and Swami Satyananda Saraswati preaches about sukarma to be the best form of karma. Thus, I realized that spiritual learning had the power to keep one upright and strong in adverse conditions. I was following the same routine and recovering day by day.

On 6th July, the test report of my family members came which was negative. I understood the result of timely self- isolating which helped in keeping other members of my family safe from the virus. I had witnessed that in the same Covid centre many members from the same family were infected and quarantined. It also taught me a lesson that self-discipline scores over other’s discipline and it always leads to the right path.

The health care workers again took my sample on 8th of July for retesting. On 9th the report came as negative. I was released from the Covid centre with thumping hands by the team of health workers as well as the patients already staying quarantined there. I wished every patient early recovery and prayed to the Almighty for their well being. I continued ‘home stay’ with a similar routine for the next fourteen days and resumed normal domestic life thereafter.

I must make it a point that saving others from getting the infection is the first defence for saving oneself.