Covid 19: My Journey — Part 2

Gently absorbing what we had just heard, I picked my phone to inform my team-lead about the reports. He gave me words of assurance. When someone repeatedly says not to worry, the fact is that they are panicking more than you. I called my sister to inform her that her whole family is tested COVID positive. I could sense that she was scared and crying a bit. My sister is really strong, she never cries.

My dad made a couple of calls to inform the near ones. His voice was croaking by now with all that coughing. He was tired. BBMP had informed us that they will give us a second call by the next day. We had lost all the hope by now. My mom wasn’t ready to believe it at all, and arguments broke frequently if BBMP faked the tests, with counter-arguments on what benefit will they get on faking the tests. My mom is a huge fan of TV9 (local news channel), so she was gathering the inputs from there.

As suggested by the lady doctor, we took our medicines promptly now with more seriousness and even took vapor with camphor as part of the aromatherapy. We even made sure that we don’t share utensils. It is so humane of us to take precautions after the milk is spilled. That’s when I noticed I couldn’t smell anything. I couldn’t smell the camphor, now it was evident that one of the symptoms of COVID-19 is clearly seen in me. My parents couldn’t digest the fact that I had lost the sense of smell, and they kept asking if I can smell at least a bit (half glass full? trying to be hopeful ). I also had rashes on my left hand, which got bigger as I started to scratch it more out of stress. Rashes are one of the lesser-known symptoms.

We slept through the night. The next morning there was an air of tension! By now I was receiving calls from my employer asking about my condition and if I was in contact with any other employees. Suddenly I was the center of attention. Everyone wanted to offer their piece of the mind, on what I should do next, and how I should tackle the disease. The suggestions started pouring in and it got annoying at times.

Have you ever been in a car accident? I have! Let me tell you how it looks like. When you are the victim of an accident, a group of people tends to gather around to see what happened. They are curious and out of nowhere two groups form, one talking for you and the other talking against you. They argue continuously as if their own car was damaged, leaving you aside, while you stand clueless wondering, “Who are these people, and what the hell is happening ?”

We waited for the BBMP to call. When the calls started, it never stopped. They kept pressurizing us to get isolated to the nearest COVID care center (Rajarajeshwari Hospital). We requested them to be home quarantined, but they never agreed. Two people from BBMP came home and did a survey on how many people stay at home. They stuck a huge poster in front of our house with our BU numbers on it.

BU stands for Bengaluru Urban code. Once a patient tests positive, the Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which is handling the allotment of hospitals to patients, gives the patient a BU code which is generated by software. First, the BBMP generates a P-code (Patient Code) and a BU Code. P-code is generated based on the ICMR report, and the BU code is software-generated.

It depressed me to just look at it and by now, people around our house were talking. We were in dilemma and we were unaware of any process as to what to do. There was tremendous pressure from BBMP and it was eating us up alive. Dad finally asked us to pack our bags, I was so adamant and angry as I had no symptoms which they usually advertise ( cough, breathlessness, fever ) and I had no intention of getting myself admitted to a hospital. But I had to listen to my dad in the end and packed light, coz I mentally decided to come back sooner and not overstay!

At this point the process was still not clear to us, it felt like things are happening but we are shielded by a curtain of uncertainties. It was frustrating. Dad got 3 beds booked for us at KIMS hospital as most of his colleagues were admitted over there. The BBMP SPOC agreed for KIMS and said that he would arrange for an ambulance to take us there. We collected our insurance cards, packed whatever we could, and waited. It was a long wait. Even though I wasn’t that sick, I started feeling sick now. I felt tired with the current happenings which were completely out of my control. I wanted to rest and wake up from this bad dream.

The BBMP SPOC informed us that the BU numbers should be sufficient for us to get admitted. We were asked to carry our Aadhaar cards. The ambulance driver took forever to come, apparently, he had to sanitize his vehicle from his previous drop.

Before even the ambulance arrived we were at the gate of our building, it felt surreal. It was a tempo traveler converted to an ambulance. The driver was in the PPE kit too. He locked us in and the sirens blazed loud. Never in my life, I thought I will travel in an ambulance to the hospital at such a young age. The depression was crawling in slowly and the driver was rushing us towards the hospital breaking every signal on the road, and taking all the possible illegal one-ways.

We reached KIMS in 30 minutes. He drove us to the COVID care center. He asked us to wait inside the ambulance. He borrowed 60₹ and got our KIMS patient card ready for us. When he came back he was accompanied by a nurse in a PPE kit who took our initial readings. (Temperature and Oxygen levels)

The driver drove us to the back entrance of the COVID care Centre. He was sweet enough to accompany us to the right floor through the lift. The insides of the COVID center were nothing less than a sci-fi movie. The open balconies were sealed shut with white plastic drapes. We were just following the driver aimlessly as if we had given up everything on him. There was a slight confusion on where to allocate beds for us and hence we had to climb up and down multiple times. The 6th floor had a row of patients, all on oxygen support.

Finally, after much hustle, they gave us three beds in a general ward. Before entering the wards they took our readings again. The nurse urged me to breathe hard as I placed my finger on the oximeter.

Suddenly, this feeling on the first day of my boarding school returned to me. Numerous other patients looked at the newbies with wide eyes. We settled down as they gave us bedsheets and blankets. The beds were too hard, the walls were leaking and peeling at places, the windows rusted and broken. My first impression was filled with negative thoughts and extreme hatred for my current situation.

I was physically tired by now. They brought in the ECG machine and took our ECG reports. I went to sleep right after this was done. By 7 PM I woke up from the sharp noise of dinner announcement. At this point, I had lost a sense of time. The dinner consisted of rice, sambar, one vegetable curry, two chapatis, fruits, and curd. I hardly ate on day 1. I went to sleep as soon as it was done.

They gave us medicines after the food, my dad’s cough had increased to another level by now. He coughed so loud and every time he coughed, I worried a little bit more. My mom is diabetic and a BP patient. She had overdosed herself with too many tablets, which made her dizzy and she started puking. I cleaned it up and it depressed me, even more, to see her in that state.

I don’t know how long I slept, I was woken up by some disturbance. As I sat and adjusted my spectacles I saw a nurse collecting blood from my mom. She cringed in pain when the syringe hit her. It felt like the middle of the night, the timing felt odd.

Once the nurse was done with my mom, she came to me and collected 1 full syringe of blood. She poured the blood in multiple other test tubes and shook it well for various tests. It might not have been the middle of the night, but truly I had lost the sense of time. It hurt. I went back to sleep again.

The ambulances wailed so loud, people coughed non-stop (dad as well), and the main lights were never switched off. The nurses worked tirelessly even at nights monitoring patients and their movement panicked me from time to time.

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Originally published at on August 23, 2020.