Coronavirus Diaries Blog 3 - My Night at the Hospital and the Days After...

By the Grace of God, I think it is safe to say that I have now fully recovered from Covid-19 and hopefully, hopefully, I...

Click here for part 1: The Extrovert's Nightmare

Click here for part 2: My Doctor Thinks I Have It

As we have all learned these past few weeks, we take a lot for granted. Traveling. Meeting friends. Going to events and parties. Going to people's houses. Going to the grocery store. Heck, just stepping outside your front door!

But up until a few weeks ago, I took the most basic human function for granted: Breathing. 

On the day that my doctor told me over the phone that I had Covid-19, I started getting this tight feeling in my chest and I started feeling very breathless. I was still in denial that I actually had it. The doctor hadn't seen me in person. I hadn't been tested. She said I have flu-like symptoms so I have it. But what if it was just a regular flu? Maybe it was just a chest infection? Why did it have to be Covid-19?

At the end of the week, the shortness of breath and the tight and heavy feeling in my chest was starting to become constant. My chest felt heavy and tight with every single breath that I took. The longer it went on the more worried I got and the more anxiety I felt. I started having panic attacks and I know that it made the pain in my chest ten times worse.

I finally broke down and called the NHS. (The National Health Service for my American friends.) After a couple of hours I spoke to another doctor and after hearing my symptoms she too said that I have Covid-19 and that I need to get an assessment done at the hospital. Alas! She said that I needed to go that night and she already put me in their system. I tried to stay calm but now I really, really couldn't breathe. I didn't want to be admitted into the hospital. I didn't want to be put on a ventilator. Would there even be a ventilator available? Was I going to die?

We arrived at hospital number one. Yes, there would be more than hospital visit in the same night. We first arrived at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. My husband had to go inside, tell them that I was there, and then come back to the car. The hospital then called me to go in ALONE. So, I entered and of course everyone was wearing masks. My anxiety reached an all time high at this point. I almost cried. But I pulled myself together and met with the doctor. She checked my oxygen levels, she checked to see if I had a fever and she checked my breathing. She said that based off what she saw, I had no heart or lung damage but I do have Covid-19 and that I need to go to another hospital for further testing.

"Do I have to?" I asked.

I didn't want to go to another hospital and wait in the car for another 30 minutes or an hour. I didn't want to enter another hospital with everyone wearing masks looking at me like I have the plague. I didn't want to get x-rays and blood tests and I didn't want them to jab a cotton swab into the back of my nose. It was 9:30pm. I hadn't even eaten dinner! I just wanted to go home and sleep and breath properly again.

"No, you don't have to, but I recommend that you do. Plus, it will relieve you of some of your anxiety." the doctor said.

So, on to hospital number two we went. Once again, my husband wasn't allowed inside. He had to drop me off, go home, and wait for my phone call to pick me up again which came after hours. Upon entering hospital number two (Glasgow Royal Infirmary) I sat in an empty waiting room for about an hour and a half. This sounds a little crazy and a little selfish but all I kept thinking was, "Okay, the hospital isn't busy. Maybe I'm lucky I got the virus super early. Hopefully there will be a ventilator for me!"

Once I was called in, I was taken to a room that was blocked off by the rest of the ward by a curtain. The nurses were super nice and in super high spirits. I was happy to see that they had plenty of masks and gloves and they were changing them frequently. They said that I would be there for a while and they offered me tea or coffee AND a sandwich! I know right?! It was now around 11pm and I had been ignoring my hunger so I was extremely grateful for the sandwich!

They went on to run a number of tests. They did another breathing test, a blood test, an X-ray, and an EKG. But surprisingly they didn't do the actual swab Covid-19 test. Were they just waiting until the very end? I patiently waited for all of the results to come back. Luckily I had my sandwich and I could overhear the nurses behind the curtain talk about my lovely accent. :)

Finally, the doctor came in and said the same thing that the prior 3 doctors said: I have Covid-19 but I would be okay. I have no heart or lung damage and that I was okay to go home that night. I just had to ride this out at home. While I was happy to be discharged I was still confused. I asked the doctor something that I didn't ask the prior 3 doctors because now we were in an environment that made sense for me to ask it. I asked, "How can you be 100% sure that I have Covid-19 if you aren't going to do the official swab test on me?" The doctor said that they only test patients who get admitted into the hospital and because I wasn't getting admitted I wouldn't get tested. She said that I didn't have a chest infection or anything else going on so she was certain that I had Covid-19 but because I am young and healthy, I'd be okay.

I was grateful but I was still confused. I'm guessing they had to be low on tests because it still didn't make any sense. Why put me through all of those other tests but not the swab test? The one test that probably matters the most! It was then and there that I realized how wildly inaccurate the numbers and cases are for each country that are reported in the news. I now had 4 doctors tell me that I had Covid-19 and I had been to two hospitals, but my number wouldn't be added to the tally. I could only imagine how many others were and are in the same situation as I had been in.

Finally, at 2:30am, I was discharged from the hospital. My husband picked me up and I was back home by 3am. I had never been more relieved in my life. The next couple days were tough but bearable. I did stop panicking because now I had more clarity on what what going on. My chest still hurt and I was still short of breath but I was okay because I knew I was going to be okay. For those of you that are reading this, I pray to God that you don't get it. I wish I could snap my fingers and I wish that Covid-19 could disappear from the world right now. But the reality is, many of you will get it. (Especially if the U.S. reopens too fast!) If you do get it, here are some things that greatly helped me and can possibly help you too:

1. Get plenty of rest! This is no joke. I would rest up for one day and the next day I would feel better. On that second day I would do chores like normal and the symptoms would come back. I spoke to my cousin on the phone while I was walking around the kitchen and after a few minutes I was so out of breath it felt like I had just ran a marathon. It was horrible! Our body is fighting off something it's never had to fight off before. So give it the time and patience and rest it deserves.

2. Warm Fluids. This helped me quite a bit. Maybe it was just a placebo effect because every time I drank something warm I'd feel the warmness go down my chest and it took away the pain for just a few seconds and those few seconds were wonderful. I would drink tea with lemon and honey and ginger. Or even just hot water with lemon or honey or ginger or any combination of those.

3. Breathing exercises. Inhaling through your nose, exhaling through your mouth. Slowly and deeply and for many seconds. And ideally, every hour. It's like you have to remind your organs on how to breath properly again. Have you seen the TV show "Jane the Virgin"? You haven't? Well, you have time now, go watch it! You know how the narrator keeps telling Jane to "Inhala, Exhala" every time she freaks out? Just like that! It helps so much!

4. Meditation. Confession. I suck at meditation. It's hard for me to just sit there and be still. Too many thoughts come into my mind! But ever since we have been quarantined, I've discovered GUIDED meditation. OMG. Jay Shetty was doing it live for 20 days and I tuned in almost everyday. 20 minutes felt like only 2 minutes had gone by. It was so peaceful and relaxing. He put them all up on youtube if you want to go see! I highly recommend them!

5. Prayer and Positive Energy. The most important. It kind of goes hand in hand with meditation. It sound a little cliche, but gosh your prayers, your family's prayers, your friend's prayers mean everything in this world. When I went into the hospital, my parents started an Akhaand Paath for me, my family in India did a Sukhmani Sahib Paath for me, my friends and family around the world were checking up on my everyday, and my husband took such good care of me. I do not have words for it all.  But everyone's thoughts and prayers truly helped me get through it.

It's all honestly simple stuff. It's just that we need reminders when we are in such a scary position. Speaking of scary, can I just say something for the record? During my whole Covid-19 experience, I had two phone consultations with doctors, two hospital visits, numerous tests performed, a follow up video consultation with a doctor AND a sandwich and it was all covered under the NHS!!! I did not pay a cent! No copays, no deductibles, no bills in the mail later, nothing!

It is already scary and stressful to have to go through something like this, but to add financial burdens on top of it to people is absolutely inhumane. So many countries in the world don't have universal healthcare and till today it astounds me that the "greatest country in the world" cannot revamp the system and reallocate their funds to provide for such a basic necessity for it's citizens. C'mon America, you can do better, I know you can.

Anyways, I'll end this here. By the Grace of God, I think it is safe to say that I have now fully recovered from Covid-19 and hopefully, hopefully, I am now immune. Thank you to all of you who reached out to me during this time. I'm not going to lie. I have never been more scared for my own health in my entire life. The news doesn't help with the anxiety. It's not entirely their fault though. People are dying every single day so how can we not be afraid?

We just have to remind ourselves that like many other things, this virus can attack our body, but it cannot attack our mind or our soul.

Bhull Chuk Maaf
Christine Kaur

P.S. God bless the NHS and everyone who is working on the front lines. And a personal thank you to the nurses and doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Christine Kaur

Christine Kaur started blogging as an outlet to express the trials of relationships of second generation western born Sikhs like herself.

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