I'm back like a bad penny. In quite a while. Handling COVID patients has been an absolute roller-coaster ride. Dizzying, terrifying, and then exhilarating. What a virus!! What a virus!! Wow!! We always were given to understand that the human species was the most brutal of nature's creations. But boy, did this virus give us stiff competition!!
And she ain't done yet. Not by a mile. A few takeaways then, which should still be important, as these months of misery mercilessly meander along.
1. THE TRICK IS EARLY RECOGNITION
One cannot tire of reiterating this one simple fact. Any fever today is COVlD unless proven otherwise. COVID can be deadly in everyone, even in the young.
And if you feel breathless, exhausted, or severely sick from day 9 to day 14 of the onset of symptoms, you need to be in a hospital — not in some club in Arpora . If you come terribly distressed, with a saturation of 70 to 80%, consider yourself one step from the Pearly Gates. And we must educate our maids and drivers and class-4 staff and all our less fortunate brethren about this. Any doubts, get to a hospital. It certainly saves lives.
2. THE PANDEMIC IS SLOWING
With a great degree of cautious optimism, we can safely say the answer is Yes.
The 4-month whack that every community goes through, before things ease out.
As Shekhar Salkar, my friend and virulent political opponent, tells you: the bed capacity in both the government and private sector has started opening up.
This is so different from August to mid-October, when getting a bed was as difficult and impossible as Vijay or Rohan getting a cabinet berth in the current BJP cabinet.
But as Shekhar points out, we party and throw caution (and our masks) to the wind, and we go back to square one.
Normally Shekhar is not always right, but here he is spot on.From now on, if you want to screw up, there is nothing we docs can do for you.
3. THS VIRUS AIN'T FUNNY
With Remdesivir/steroids/Heparin and plasma, we have managed to bring down the mortality and morbidity of COVID-19. No question.
Of course, silly doubts have been raised on the efficacy of plasma and Remdesivir.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And in this case it's an orange pudding (Trump).The most powerful (and despicable) man on the planet got an antibody cocktail from Regeneron (convalescent plasma is more or less the same thing), Remdesivir (which the FDA now says is a frontline drug) and steroids. And if Trump could survive, so should we with the treatment Goa offers. But you must get in early and never be in denial of having contracted the virus.
4. LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF COVID
This is now turning out to be the biggest challenge post-COVID.Lung fibrosis with a diminished capacity of lung function is easily the most dreaded. Even young patients who partied hard and fast develop this horrible sequale. There are some patients who can barely walk a few metres without getting breathless and incapacitated.
The majority recover well but a significant minority do go down this awful path. Getting breathless seeing Kim Kardashian is one thing. Getting breathless because of the corona virus...Go on, give me a break.
And often times you could end up with heart damage, clotting issues, severe fatigue, prolonged fever....The list is endless and not amusing at all. If you ask me, I may be going into a COVID ward daily with my protective gear, adequately protected to see my patients, but I would never ever attend a wedding, birthday, or public function till the end of 2021.
Without a shadow of doubt.
(I may do a solo Bhangra on November 4, in case the orangutan loses, of course )
Moral: if you do not want COVID complications, do not get COVID in the first place.
5. LESSONS LEARNT
First, the way the medical, nursing and medical attendant community has responded to this crisis has been nothing short of heroic, even divine. Particularly in the government hospitals. You may whine and crib, but I know for a fact how this community has put their lives on the line for you.
Period!! Mistakes of course, but the sincerity and integrity of their efforts has been matchless. The other big lesson I learnt is that compassion and love and simple human acts of kindness still prevail amongst us.
Would you believe that Muslim plasma was possibly saving a Hindutva guy’s life?
Or Hindu plasma saved a hard-core Islamist radical’s life?
During COVID, this must have happened on countless occasions. In some mysterious way, COVID helped us discover our inner selves, our capacity for empathy, our collective holding of hands and hearts in times of abject terror, the summoning of our reserve to serve selflessly.
Our common humanity, if you will. Of course, once the pandemic ends we will go back to being the beasts we always were and are.
But thanks to COVID, we could at least have had a glimpse of how truly beautiful and pure we can be. Even if it was for a short while in time.
We gingerly get off the mountain peak then, with utmost caution and trepidation. But we must remember that getting off a mountain peak recklessly can be more dangerous than climbing it.
So, do you see that faint, little glow?? It could be the light at the end of the tunnel.