As Experienced By Kewal Singh Ahuja
That night of October 2020, I heard my wife saying, “it’s time to go”, I opened my eyes and saw my children and wife helplessly standing beside me, pleading and requesting to get me admitted in the hospital.
I refused to move. Did not want to leave my children, my wife, come what may and was prepared to face whatever I had in store for me. I could think nothing but being with three of them, forever. That fear of going to the hospital, realisation of Corona virus taking a grip on my body and fading in anonymity engulfed me.
With more than 60 per cent pneumonia in my lungs due to covid 19, high fever which refused to go down even with highest dose of ‘Dolo’, constantly throwing up and a history of asthma, I knew I had no choice but to get admitted in the hospital.
But I refused to go. This was the time when covid in Delhi had peaked, people were dying and no amount of your status could give you any mercy. No one had any choice. Nor in life neither in the death. Life, I realised became a matter of chance for me.
My thoughts were loaded with the news of how people were suffering in hospitals and how many of those who go to hospital were dying alone and not able to see their families ever again. I was not prepared to take this chance-of fading in anonymity, alone, without my family around.
I prepared myself to face my fate whatever it was, in the arms of my wife holding my children around. That night I just thought myself fortunate I had three of these around me to hold me and comfort me in one of my most uncomfortable times.
My wife an expressionless and pale figure then, herself struggling with her acute breathlessness and fatigue due to Covid 19 while simultaneously managing the house and three more covid patients including myself and two children, perhaps had no opportunity to react. Preparing and managing everything for my hospital visit she had no time for the reactions perhaps.
She had been on phone call relentlessly chasing the very busy covid doctors and hospital staff while also packing up my things for my comfort at the hospital. I had been throwing up non-stop and I wasn’t able to breathe but I was assuring her that I would be all right and remained adamant not to go to hospital.
I salute to the patience of my wife. How she managed to hold when I was slipping in front of her, when I was stubborn and wouldn’t listen. She was managing the house, comforting the kids, besides also checking my slipping parameters and also washing and sanitising the room and the bathrooms with my non-stop throwing ups.
It was then my son took charge of me and instructed, “you are going to the hospital and coming back in two days. That’s it”. When your teenage child behaves your parent then we have no choice perhaps.
My moments of faith
Moments later, I was driven to hospital and the only thought while holding my wife’s hand was ‘what if’ I don’t come back ever. She played my favourite music in the car while planning about what we would do once I was back from the hospital. But my mind was stuck in, ‘what if’.
This feeling of ‘what if’ was pulling me down. I was going back to my childhood, to my parents and our lives together. Suddenly I went to my childhood memories of a Gurbaani Shabad (sikh prayer songs) that I used to listen and sing along with my father, chinta taaki kijiye jo unhoni hoye… (you should worry only about something which is untoward)
An attendant in PPE kit waited with the wheelchair in a special covid parking lot. As he whisked me through the separate entry to the special covid ward I could see my wife waving at me with a faked-up smile and stiff eyes and I, on my part repeated to myself chita taki kijiya…Within seconds I was alone, holding my stuff directed towards my room with three more patients.
That night was bad indeed. The gloom of the advancing death in the ward was overpowering me with three critical covid patients beside me. There was a senior citizen who was groaning and two young lad who appeared more anxious than I was. Through my nebulizer I could feel the fear all around.
My children insisted to facetime to say good night. Amidst my struggle to appear cheerful on phone camera for my family, my attendant told me it was only few weeks before the government had allowed patients to carry mobile phones in the hospital. This was that another moment of ‘what if’. What if I was not able to see and connect with my family from the hospital?
I was on oxygen, anxious and sleepless, humming that Shabadh whole night.
The morning of hope
It was a bright sunny day of late October chill. I was happy to see the brightness around. The first thing I did was to tell my attendant to take away my nebulizer when he came to serve me the breakfast.
I looked around, no one spoke to anyone and quietly ate their breakfast. I introduced myself. The elderly man was stuck in Delhi alone due to his covid 19, his family was in Hyderabad. The other two were young professionals but visibly appeared terrified and worried and have been in the hospital for more than a fortnight.
I started my day with Pranayama and few Yoga Asanaa. This is not my fate I concluded. I shrugged off the ‘what if’, tried to gather myself, took bath, changed and wore the beautiful pullover which my wife had packed for me and took charge of myself. The music buff me, put on my earphone and switched to my favourite downloads and took few shaky steps in the long corridor of special covid ward.
First few steps were tough, but I kept listening to chinta taaki ….stopped thinking about my corona condition, smiled and waved to all those nurses, attendants who passed by. Few definitely stopped to know if I was all right-I will be all right, I quipped with a smile.
By evening we all had developed a relationship with each other. The three others in the room had no connection with the world outside other than phone, they wouldn’t talk with each other much and had nothing much to share. I thought of breaking this gloom by sharing many things which I had carried from home.
By evening the room was lit with laughter, political gossiping and complains that we shared about the hospital food, the mismanagement and the highhandedness of insurance companies in the name of covid 19.
My parameters although were not improving much, they did not deteriorate either. I had breathlessness but I refused to take nebuliser. I had realised by the end of the day it was important not to give up. it was most important to believe in life and put away the fear of death. I took another round of corridor walk before dinner and the third round of my Parayanama before sleep.
Yoga, music and prayers pulled me through
I was feeling better. My oxygen had not improved much but was stable by the second day. Walks, yoga, pranayama, music and prayers became part of my time in the hospital. Even the hospital staff started saying that ours had become the most-lively room of the entire covid ward.
Evenings were full of music. We divided sessions to play our favourite songs to each other. Starting from Mohhamad Rafi songs, to Kishore Kumar to my favourite Ghazals of Jagjeet Singh and my favourite Shabads and Jap Ji Saheb (Sikh Prayers) recitations.
Third morning I face-timed my family. “you look good” they cheered. “Indeed I am, I will be back soon”, I told them.
I insisted to my doctors to get my covid test done. They were reluctant given my condition at the time of admission. To their surprise my CT Scan was remarkably improved and my covid report was negative. Miraculously, I was ready to get out of the hospital within days of my lungs downing with more than 60 per cent of covid related pneumonia.
Now, when I look back into my covid journey, what was that special thing which pulled me out despite my critical and fast deteriorating condition other than the medication?
It was the grit, I must say, to fight back and the will to live life and get back to my family.
And of course, my friends who would not stop forwarding those dirty jokes. Can’t thank less my neighbours who stood by my family extending all sort of help.
(The Writer is Lawyer, Accredited Mediator & Investment Arbitrator)
(The views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion, beliefs and view point of the owners of asiannewsmakers.com)