When I write this, my in-laws are battling in a hospital in A.P. They both recently tested positive. I am worried and anxious these days, constantly checking up on my near and dear ones. India is currently battling with the second wave of Covid-19. People are dying every single day. Reports are full of horrific accounts, images, and testimonials . There is a queue even outside the crematoriums. People are running around to find beds, oxygen cylinders, essential medicines and facing a shortage of vaccines. Overall the situation is grim and scary.
I am also one of those people who suffered during this crisis and I could not sleep for three weeks because first my Amma was battling for her life in hospital, and then my husband tested positive. It was a nightmare, to say the least. We were just plain lucky or maybe God was very kind to us that we got hospital beds in time.
It all started on the night of 5th April (Monday). As usual, the whole day was very hectic. I thought I will sleep early. But nothing like that happened. We got a call from my native place that my Amma(grandmother) was very sick and they were taking her to hospital. The way they spoke to us, I started crying and praying that I would get a last chance to meet her. It was midnight. My mind was not working. I didn’t know how I was going to handle this. My husband booked tickets for us to Varanasi. And we started the race against time.
We reached the airport, constantly in touch with people who were attending to my Amma. On the flight my phone was switched off for three damn hours. Anything could happen in three hours and no one could reach me for three hours.It felt like time has stopped. I could see the sunrise from the window and it was breathtakingly beautiful but I didn’t click a picture as I always do. I was distraught.
We reached Varanasi and hired a cab to take us to Azamgarh. I sat in the car numb. The things were complex and I had no idea what I am going to do. I didn’t know anyone in Varanasi or Lucknow as I am out of my State for so many years now. Whom should I contact? I don’t know any doctors here. I don’t know which hospital is good. Should I take her to Varanasi or Lucknow? Varanasi is only 90 km from Azamgarh and Lucknow is 270 km. I am calculating this in my head. I am telling myself, I should take her to Varanasi. As these thoughts criss cross my mind, I told the driver to race towards Azamgarh as I have to reach on time. Then we were just 10-15 km away from Azamgarh city. My thoughts were broken when I got a call from the hospital and I heard a voice: ‘Why are you not taking her?’ said the doctor in a harsh tone and hung up on me. I turned towards the driver and told him to drive faster.
Suddenly I remembered my one of my friends (Sarika). She was my classmate during engineering. She was from Varanasi. I called her many times but she didn’t pick up. She called me after some time. I told her everything. She told me about another classmate (Manjit) whose relative is a doctor in Banaras Hindu University hospital officially known as Sir Sundarlal Bahuguna: IMS BHU hospital. Hearing this was a big relief, at least now I know a hospital name. I spoke to Manjit’s relative (can’t reveal his name) and he told me to bring her and admit her to the hospital.
We reached the Vinayak hospital (Azamgarh) and put Amma in the ambulance and started the journey to the BHU hospital. Though I told everyone that I am taking her to the hospital, inside my heart, I was not sure how I am going to handle this. On the way, many times, it felt like that she will leave us at any moment. Somehow, we reached. I didn’t even brush my teeth and I was sweating and feeling dehydrated but I can’t eat because I don’t want to remove my mask. To my shock, there was a queue for a stretcher and wheelchair and you have to deposit your Aadhar card for that. I tried talking to people. The ambulance driver was also getting restless and told us to pay quickly because he wants to leave. Somehow, we entered the hospital. We were running from here to there sometimes to take a receipt, for medicines, and blood tests. We both were constantly paranoid and trying to sanitise as we were in the high-risk zone. This ordeal continued for the next five days. Two of my buas (Kiran and Guddi) were there to help us. They were nursing Amma during the night and we both were there during the daytime.
Countless people helped us during this crisis and many also showed their true color. That ward boy in ACU, many doctors, nurses, countless strangers, and many more. Some people need special mention. One of my close friends: Kriti Singh. I met her during my civil services preparation. Her whole family was very supportive. Her mom was super sweet. She also invited us for dinner and gave us ‘shagun money’ considering me as her daughter. Watching this, I cried inside. Many of my relatives didn’t even come to see us but here are some strangers who were so helpful. She gave us her bike so that we can commute easily. She also guided us to book accommodation in the IITBHU guest house. This guest house was super clean and they gave us good food. They had helpful nice staff who treated us like family.
On 10th April, she (Amma) got discharged and we both were so relieved. We also visited the sankat mochan temple to pay our obeisance. The next day, we planned to travel back to Bengaluru. We never thought that our happiness and peace going to disappear soon. I had a mild sore throat but never thought that it will turn out to be a covid symptom. On 12th April, we both did an RT-PCR test that came negative. However, by that time, we sensed that we both are Covid positive as we both had mild symptoms. Chaitanya also started getting a high fever. We somehow passed one week and I started feeling better. But Chaitanya’s fever became worse. We both were panicking inside and didn’t want to visit the hospital as the second wave was already making havoc. I could only hear ambulance sirens on the road. My heart was sinking all the time.
I prepared 100 varieties of kadha for him to drink. We tried everything but the fever was not coming down. On 20th April, our fear came true. The doctor with whom we are doing online consultation told me to take him to the hospital. And then the real panic started. I tried calling BBMP(Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) helpline number and it was not working. I don’t know any hospital. Where should I take him? I started calling frantically to people and asking for help on how to get hospital beds in Bengaluru. I reached out to my office colleagues also. They also started calling the BBMP helpline. Chaitanya told me to take him to Manipal hospital. They were not ready to take him and gave some emergency treatment.
There only they(Manipal Hospital) did the RT-PCR test again. He tested positive.They told me that they don’t have a bed and they discharged him. I also called my sister-in-law who also lives in Bengaluru. I and my sister-in-law kept on trying the helpline number (1912) and finally gave all the details to the person who was there on the other side of the phone. We reached home around 2 o clock at night. I told Chaitanya to sleep and I kept on trying to helpline numbers. I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I also called some ambulances. Luckily or maybe because of god’s grace, they assigned him a bed in the Dr. Ambedkar Medical Hospital. The next day(April 21st), I admitted him there.
He was admitted to the hospital for 8 days. For these 8 days, I was visiting this COVID hospital 3 times a day, sometimes 4 times a day to give him breakfast, lunch, dinner, or some medicine, water or just check up on him how he is doing. The situation in the hospital was miserable. Almost every day, I saw one dead body wrapped in a body bag. The patient attendant is not allowed in the hospital. They can only go and meet the patient for five minutes or give some stuff to the guard. So I used to wait outside on the lawn. It was a pain physically and mentally both seeing people suffering and I was also paranoid because I am outside. After coming home, It used to take almost 2 hours for me to sanitise and take bath. Many Autowallas and uber drivers just refused to come after asking about my destination. The moment I said that I have to go to the hospital, they cancelled on me. Anyway, I want to remember those people who helped me and were kind during this crisis. Nights were painful and scary. I couldn’t sleep as I was anxious thinking I might get a call from the hospital. I don’t know how Chaitanya might be feeling. I stopped reading the newspapers and checking social media as I didn’t want to see any bad news.
I don’t know what to say about the doctors. They are overwhelmed. They are risking their lives for us and we must salute them. However, it was difficult for us to talk to the doctors. They were just not there. They were not telling anything. It made me more worried. Only after three days when he didn’t get his fever, I got relieved. Only one doctor Dr. Lisana spoke to us and shared valuable information about his health. It was so comforting listening to her and understanding what has happened.
In the end, I want to thank all those countless and faceless people who helped me and checked on me every single day. I am grateful to my friends: Sarika, Manjit, Kriti and many others, and all those faceless people who helped me. One girl, I didn’t know her name at that time, kept on checking and calling me when I was struggling to find a bed for Chaitanya. Her name is Rama. I will never forget her. She is my friend now. Some of my office colleagues were very helpful. Vineeth and Kalyani called and messaged me asking how is everything. Am I taking care of myself and eating properly? In fact, my director was very kind and she went out of her way to help me in a lot of different ways. She also sent me food one day. My sister-in-law (Manu) and brother-in-law(Vamsi) also helped me and were always there for me.
Whoever will read this blog of mine, I want to tell you something, I couldn’t express most of the things I felt during this crisis. I have my relatives in rural UP and the situation is very grim now. In, fact, during the same time, one of my relatives got hospitalised. He also got discharged recently and is doing better now. Only one thing I want to say whoever will read this blog: please please be kind and help others. Nothing else matters. Life is too short.