Lalit recovers from Covid-19

Dr Lalit, our first ever DFN funded student, now a doctor undertaking his postgraduate education in obstetrics and gynaecology in Egypt, is recovering from being extremely unwell with Covid-19. He touchingly writes “I pray to God for my life. I want to survive because I need to do many things that are pending…I remember those beautiful days of working in the remote hospitals of Nepal…I remember the smiles of my patients after getting new life..” We asked Lalit to write about this dreadful virus and how it has effected him. We all wish you well dear Lalit.

“My Experience during COVID 19 Infection: A Precious Life”
By Dr Lalit Shahi.
Cairo, August 2020
(Edited by Dr Kate Yarrow)

Day 1: The tiredness hits. 

It is my 24hour duty in the obstetrics and gynaecology casualty department. I start my day with normal levels of energy, and an active state of mind; I plan to collect cases for my thesis. The day is busy – because our workload is almost back to normal. Peoples’ fear of Covid infection seems to have decreased; doctors, nurses and other helpers are neglecting and ignoring the preventive measures. I have become confident of not catching the infection, or thinking I may already have immunity. After 12 hour of duty, I feel tired and cold. At 10 pm, running nose and headache started. I feel unusual body pain and tiredness. We finish the 24 hour emergency duty and go to the department to see the admitted patients; I return home after 30 hours of sleepless duty. Now have got fever, and I suspect it is not “normal” tiredness. Despite this even do 25 pushups as I have committed to Dr Kate Yarrow on a Facebook challenge to raise awareness of menta health. I decide to keep some distance from my flat-mate.

Day 2: Something isn’t right

I can’t wake up. I have severe body pain, fever and a headache. I am uncertain whether the lethargy is caused by potential coronavirus infection, or the effect of pushups.

Day 3: The beginning of self-isolation

I am highly suspicious that I have Covid infection, I am too stressed. I inform my senior and infection control department of my hospital. They tell me to stay isolated  in my  apartment and follow the instructions given by them. I monitor my temperature every hour. I inform Dr Kate yarrow.

Day 5: The test

I do the PCR test for Covid (corona virus). I am so tired, stressed, and have fever with severe headache. The fever is continuing.  I’ve lost my appetite; food smells very bad.  I met my friend, a residents and a assistant lecturer in COVID clinic. They have the same symptoms and told me that they also started in the same. I see sadness in their faces, still we reassure each other. A technician takes the nasopharyngeal swab. It is a very painful and irritating procedure; there are tears in my eyes whilst the technician takes the swab. My friend tries to reassure me that it will be ok. He behaves normally – like nothing’s happening, because he wants to show me that he is not scared. It is because he wants to give me emotional and mental support.

Day 6: The Result

So far, this is the worst day – the suffering is intolerable. I have a high fever, an agonising headache, cough, body ache and complete loss of appetite. I am also mentally very down, stressed, and see sadness in my face. I am mentally prepared that the result might be positive.  At 3 pm, I got a phone call from the hospital saying that my swab result is Positive… I am not really confident that I can fight it.   My friend seems worried but still tries to reassure me. There is lots of thinking in my mind. I am worried about my friend. If he also gets the infection, who will take care of each other? In the evening, my friend sanitises all the rooms with a chlorine solution. Fortunately, we have 2 washrooms in the apartment. I was use one just for myself. He even starts preparing food for me and serving it at my bedroom’s door. I have my own plate, cutlery and glass.

Night 6: A long night

I can’t sleep that night. I am too worried. There is mild cough, but I also feel shortness of breathing, and restlessness because of the stressful situation. I monitor my temperature, pulse and respiratory rate the whole night. Every hour is important; every easy breath is new life.

I pray to God for my life. I want to survive because I need to do many things that are pending.  I am always struggling to make a changes in my community, to my family and myself . I remember those beautiful days of working in the remote hospitals of Nepal. Of saving the lives of my patients; of taking risks.  I remember the smiles of my patients after getting new life. I think that my life is not only important for me, it is also important for those people in rural Nepal; my parents, children, wife. Those who love me and are waiting for me. I decide that I must survive…..

Days 7-10: Life is precious

I am struggling to survive. I have stopped talking to anyone. I think that there is no-one in this world who really can help me except my friend and myself. I have got body pain, overwhelming tiredness, and no energy to get up out of bed.  Nausea and diarrhoea have developed. The only hope that I can survive is that there is no progress of my respiratory symptoms. I are lots of thoughts in my mind about  the worst outcome, about the possible complication. A patient calls me; the last case I saw for my thesis on the day I got ill; she is also really unwell; she sounds so sick.  I don’t know what will happen to her  – and worry about her too.

I try to talk on the phone with my children normally (they are still in Nepal). They notice that I am not well, and are worried. They tell me that I need to take care of myself.  Every day is new life for me. Every morning without progressive symptoms, give me the hope to survive. I don’t know why, but now feel that I understand life very closely. I feel the importance of life.

Day 11: Finally informed my family

Finally there is a day without fever. I am still very weakness.  But I have got more confident that I will survive because there are no progressive respiratory symptoms. I decide to tell my wife and brother that I have got Covid PCR positive, but  that I am recovering every day. I also inform Dr Kate that I am now recovering. I don’t have any appetite, but I eat forcefully.

Day 16: Rejuvenation, the new beginning

I sit at my study table for the first time in 16 days.  I decide to write my experiences of this life-threatening infection. I leave my apartment first time. I feel the air. All the trees and birds looks so very beautiful. I am writing this sitting on my study table which had not imagined that I will ever do it. I am full of hope to survive now.

Now I am thinking of travelling to some more places; of eating different tasting food . Of working in my hospital. I will be as strong as before. I will return Nepal, meet my family, my children. I got an email from my “English parents” yesterday (Chris and Anne Yarrow). They want me to visit the UK, to stay in their house, to spend time with them… I realize the important of good friends , the people who really love m; who need and want my presence in this world.

I still feel so weak. Every supportive word from my friends, family, and relatives turns into positive energy. I am still continue fighting with infection but I have got hope and confidence that I can win this deadly infection. I want to thank my friend who is helping me every day without scared, providing me whatever I want to eat and drink. Thanks to my close loving ones who spend time with me – even living at a distance.

I am praying to my God every day for my fast recovery, a new life, a precious life. Thank you My God !