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Old 11th May 2020, 17:09   #1
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Default My experience with Covid-19: Got infected, and recovered!

Sharing my experience of the COVID19 pandemic.

Just wanted to give a picture from a different perspective. I am a practicing Medicine doctor in the United Kingdom. I did my MBBS from India and then later in 2017, I came to UK to specialize in Internal Medicine which I've completed. I am currently working as a junior Oncology trainee, but have been pulled into Medicine since the pandemic has started. We've had staff shortage due to some of them self isolating due to underlying health diseases/pregnancy/elderly and various other reasons. Doctors and nurses from all various specialities have been pulled into a general rota which includes duties in Covid and Non-Covid zones in the hospital.

Initial few days were full of anxiety and stress of not having proper PPE, guidelines to work with and the fear of putting our lives on the line. You could sense the uneasiness while having a chat with your colleagues and nursing staff. Yes, we did take the oath to always put our patients first, but the thought of losing your own life or passing this disease to a loved one in the household can be immensely frightening and distressing. Fortunately, for me, I stay by myself here in the UK. My parents back home did urge me to come back to India by the first available flight and terminate my training as they thought my own well being is the most important. It took many days for me to convince them, that I can't run away from it and that this virus is here to stay and we will all have to learn to live with it.

Its been about 5-6 weeks now since I've managed more than 100 positive cases and equal or double number of suspected cases. Our ICU bed support in the hospital was ramped up from 40 to 120 as we were expecting huge influx of patients. During the initial days, I still remember, every patient was going to be needing oxygen support, or mechanical ventilatory support and we did lose a few patients to COVID19 in the first week itself. But analysing the data, these were all patients in the age group of >80 years with significant underlying health conditions and repeated prolonged hospital admissions in the last 1-2 years. We did lose a young 23 year old boy who succumbed to the virus, but again had an underlying diagnosis of Cystic fibrosis which led him to have repeated chest infections in the recent past. This death had further created fear and anxiety amongst the hospital staff and it seemed like a losing battle in the initial few days with no silver lining in the end.

To make the matters worse, we started to have infection spread among the nurses and doctors in the hospital who were told to self isolate at home for 7-14 days without being tested as the test kits were in shortage. During the second week of April, the Medicine consultant I was working closely for last 3 weeks while we had started with the COVID duties, tested positive. My consultant - a 58 year old male, originally from Afghanistan, an absolute gem of a person, probably the nicest man you'll ever come across. I was the medical registrar on-call for that night and we had an ambulance call that the same consultant was coming in shortly for admission as he has been feeling acutely short of breath. The news itself gave absolute jitters across my spine. When he finally arrived and I was the first physician to see him, looking at his vitals and clinical state, it was quite decided to intubate him and put him on ventilatory support. The next few days which followed after that, were possibly exhausting for me and I was more or less on the verge of an absolute physical and mental meltdown. The only thing which kept me going and motivated was having tremendous support from the friends and colleagues in the hospital. All of us, coming from different backgrounds, different cultures, different ethnicities. We all knew we are in it together and we will give it our best shot. Although social distancing had become the need of the hour, we started organizing dinners in the hospital cafeteria and kept everyone as motivated as possible. A psychologist was available 24-7 for any healthcare staff dealing with stress and anxiety and needed an outlet to think back straight again.

Slowly by the mid of April, most of our in-patients started turning a corner. Most of them were extubated, including that consultant of mine. Each passing day, seemed like we have started to win some small battles. We discharged our first COVID19 patient who had needed ICU support on 16th April and then it was when you could see some light at the end of the tunnel. However, there seemed to be an an exponential rise in the doctors testing positive for COVID19, specially the younger lot in their 20's and 30's. Fortunately, all of them have had a very mild disease with symptoms like sore throat, bodyaches, fever, loss of taste, loss of smell, headaches, etc.

It is day 3 for me testing positive for COVID19. I would like to share with you each day's symptoms I've encountered till now, possibly to alleviate a few fears some of you might have regarding the disease.

Day 1 - May 04th - woke up absolutely well, went to work as usual. At around 1PM after finishing my morning ward rounds, started to feel a bit under the weather. The feeling persisted for the next couple of hours and I informed my colleagues and left for home at 4PM. Came back home, took a quick shower and headed straight to bed as I felt I had no energy to do anything. Woke up around 8PM with a bounding headache, sore throat and bad bodyaches ( I won't say they were terrible, but yes they were something like I've never experienced in the past) specially in both the legs and my back. Had a light dinner, took 2 paracetamols and slept again.

Day 2 - May 05th - woke up at 7:30AM, feeling feverish with some mild chills. Checked temperature and it was 38.6. Telephoned the occupational health in the hospital to inform about sick leave and to arrange for a throat swab. Hospital staff were extremely efficient and helpful and they arranged for me to come at the drive-thru swabbing centre at the periphery of the Hospital at a time of my convenience. I took paracetamol again at 8am and slept and went to give my Swab at 4PM that day. By then the only symptoms I was having was low grade fever(likely masked by paracetamol I was taking) and a sore throat. It was literally a 2 minute job of getting the swab done and I was back home and was advised to self isolate at home till I get my swab results back. That night, I had some mild bodyaches again, followed with temperature of 38.2 Celcius. I started doing salt & hot water gargles as well to soothen the throat.

Day 3 - May 06th - woke up late and felt a little better than yesterday. Temperature was 37.6. There were hardly any bodyaches, but i felt very lethargic. I literally had no energy to even get up and make Coffee for myself. Also, I had noticed my appetite had gone down a fair bit. Anyhow, pushed myself to eat and drink and took the paracetamol again. Had some green tea and made sure I kept having some hot drinks every 2-3 hours. By this time, I had informed my parents back home about the symptoms I was getting and that I had gotten my swab done. It seemed like the panic button was pressed and as all Indian parents are, they went absolutely berserk. It took a while to get them to make any sense and I told them I'm managing fairly well at this stage. Also, I have the support of some really close friends who have been doing groceries for me and have been cooking food and leaving it at my doorstep.

Day 4 - May 07th - Woke up at about 9AM. Felt much better in myself. The only things bothering me by now was the soreness in the throat and having absolutely no appetite. Again, forced myself to eat and keep myself well hydrated. Have been sleeping almost 12-14 hours a day for last 3 days.

Day 5 - May 08th - Again feeling better than yesterday. Felt like my appetite was more or less back and the bodyaches had completely disappeared by now. I was waking up fresh and had the energy to go about my day within the house. Soreness in the throat still remained and I was taking occasional strepsils lozenges to clear it. No further fevers.

Day 6 - May 09th - I was getting eager to know what my swab results were as it had already been almost 96 hours since I had given the swab. I was literally hoping that it has not been misplaced in transit. Got a call from Occupational Health at 12PM informing that the swab has indeed come back positive. I don't know what it was, but hearing I tested positive , it gave me a sense of relief. In my head, I was thinking, glad that I've had it with minimal symptoms and hopefully I'm done with it now. There are articles floating around about re-infection in patients who tested negative after sometime. However, I'm trying to keep myself in the best of the spirits. The next step was to inform my family back home. I was sure this will stress out my parents to the next level and wanted to dampen the blow. So I initially called my elder sister and told her about the swab result and mentioned to her that i'm doing absolutely fine. Thereafter, got my parents on the conference video call and gave them the news. It came a bit of a shock for them, specially my father, who has been following the news channels in India rather religiously. They had all sorts of questions, ranging from what happens now? Are you being hospitalised? Should we come there to take care of you? Be honest, tell us if you have any symptoms. It took me more than a hour on the phone to clarify their doubts and clear their heads on this. Since then, no kidding, every family member including extended family(ours is a super huge one) has been on the phone with me, every 30-60 minutes to check on me for any new symptoms/changes or to just keep me busy & entertained.

Day 7 - May 10th -
Woke up super late as I was watching Ozark on Netflix till late. Felt my throat is 50% better than it was yesterday. No other symptoms to mention. Started getting excited thinking the worse is over now. Did a small cardio home workout for about 20 minutes and quickly realized I should not have done it. Felt that I've drained all the energy I had been conserving for the last few days taking rest. Sat around most of the day in front of the laptop or TV without exerting myself after that. Fortunately, friends around have been super helpful. They have been picking up groceries, cooking some amazing food and doing even small errands for me.

Day 8 - May 11th (Today) - Woke up at 10AM. Felt better than yesterday. Improving each day. Sore throat is much better now. Still a tickle in the throat, but no where near how it was 5 days back. This whole time I've noticed, I never had a cough, never felt breathless, did not lose my sense of smell or taste. Energy levels are much better but will not try to exert myself for at least next 10 days or so. Hospital staff, admin, medical directorate in the hospital have been amazingly helpful throughout. I'm allowed to return to work when I'm feeling better which is likely going to be early/middle of next week, and not being rushed back to it.

These last few days have given me a chance to ponder about a few things. Life has a funny way of teaching us. It will create a deep sadness, so that we know how to truly understand happiness. It will create chaos in our lives, so that we appreciate the peaceful times and it will take those we love away from us, so that we will truly understand what their presence meant for us.

Firstly, I'm 29, quite fit I would say, although my eating habits are not the best. I have started working towards eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis(taking a break at the moment). In short, I've started to give more time to myself, which was never the case before. Secondly, being an Oncologist to be, I deal with death & breaking bad news on more or less a daily basis which might de-sensitize oneself from the grief and emotions attached to the whole experience. I know you can't function if you start getting emotionally attached with every patient you manage, but this whole pandemic has made me appreciate life a little more than I used to earlier. Thirdly, the importance of having an amazing family support around, no matter how far or near they are. I would really love to spend some quality time with my parents and possibly travel the world with them. Although they like traveling by themselves in the past few years, i'm sure they won't mind me third wheeling. Lastly, having friends who treat you as their own family in a place half way across the world from home, it's an absolute blessing, and probably the only thing I'm proud to have earned.

Also, it has finally given me a chance to possibly start penning down my Beemer's ownership experience. Someday!!

Last edited by Rehaan : 14th May 2020 at 18:51. Reason: Adding a tiny bit of formatting :)
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Old 11th May 2020, 17:25   #2
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Thanks a lot for penning this down. Hopefully your first person account will help assuage the fears many people have.

There are people in my society and office who think that once they are infected, they will in ICU for 2 days and then its certain death!! They just cant believe that many people have no or mild symptoms and can recover fully.
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Old 11th May 2020, 18:15   #3
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Sharing my experience ... I am a practicing Medicine doctor in the United Kingdom. ...
Thank you so much. Even though I regularly remind my wife and myself that, despite being in our sixties, even if we catch this thing, the odds are still that we would recover and survive, it is good to hear it first hand.

I've lived in India with my Indian wife for past fifteen years, but my mother country is England. I feel so bad when I read, each day, the difficulties that the NHS is facing. Thank you for your work there
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Old 11th May 2020, 23:05   #4
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Sharing my experience of the COVID19 pandemic!
Dude, tears flowed across my cheeks. Let's get the life back man.
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Old 11th May 2020, 23:56   #5
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Sharing my experience of the COVID19 pandemic. I'm not really sure if it's the correct thread to post in. Moderators, please feel free to move as felt appropriate.
Thank you and all other medical staffs all around the world.

Last edited by Aditya : 12th May 2020 at 10:15.
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Old 12th May 2020, 10:16   #6
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My experience with Covid-19: Got infected, and recovered! - Posts moved to a new thread.
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Old 12th May 2020, 17:39   #7
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Default Re: My experience with Covid-19: Got infected, and recovered!

Hi there.
Please accept my heartfelt congratulations on your recovery. I got very emotional reading your story. Being a doctor myself exposed to this threat resonated a bounding synonymity and sympathy with you throughout your ordeal- word by word.

What makes this thing so scary is- till we get a vaccine, it is not over. There is a chance for everyone to get infected. And this thing kills- quickly. Although only one or two in hundred but the no increases exponentially when millions are infected. Worst is not knowing whom it will affect the most.

Anyways your experience will serve as a guide and reminder for many here.

Wishing you all the best.
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Old 12th May 2020, 18:22   #8
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UPDATE

Day 9 - May 12th - Back to my daily routine within the house and trying to get my sleep cycle back to its normal rhythm. Managing to do all house chores like before but not pushing myself at all. Soreness in the throat has eased off a fair bit. Speaking for say, 15 minutes over the phone makes the throat go dry easily, so need to constantly sip water in between or strepsils lozenges have been quite helpful. Apart from that, nothing else to report. Appetite is good, no lethargy or malaise. I have not required to take any paracetamol for the last 48 hours. Hopefully, will step out of the house on Sunday and back to work from Monday.

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Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
Thank you so much. Even though I regularly remind my wife and myself that, despite being in our sixties, even if we catch this thing, the odds are still that we would recover and survive, it is good to hear it first hand.
Thanks for your kind words. Taking precautions at this hour is of utmost importance. But, from the little experience I've gained in the past few weeks, each individual responds to this virus quite differently, given the inflammatory response it triggers in various organs of the body. Almost, 100% of the staff members who got infected(likely to be in range of 40-50 staff members) with covid19 have recovered or are in their recovery phase, these includes doctors in their sixties as well. 75-80% of the staff members infected are males and their seems to be a significant disproportion between the two genders. The virulence of the strain at each place has been reported to be mildly different as well which corresponds to people reporting different set of symptoms in one region and slightly different in another.

In regards to NHS, it has been pushed to it's absolute limits. Non availability of PPE to work with, no proper guidelines are being drawn. Infection control guidelines are being made by people sitting in their offices in London, who have not stepped into a clinical setting for ages, and these guidelines are not in-line with what the world is following, but in-line with what equipment is available in stock here. No wonder, UK has one of the highest infection rate amongst the healthcare workers across the globe. I'm sure when the dust settles, there will be a huge uproar from the medical fraternity here against the handling of the pandemic by this current government.

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Dude, tears flowed across my cheeks. Let's get the life back man.
Guess, if we just had the option to fast forward 2020. But it's not all that grim now. Things have started to improve a little here and I'm sure they will as well back home.

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Thank you and all other medical staffs all around the world.
Thank you for the kind words.

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Thanks a lot for penning this down. Hopefully your first person account will help assuage the fears many people have.

There are people in my society and office who think that once they are infected, they will in ICU for 2 days and then its certain death!! They just cant believe that many people have no or mild symptoms and can recover fully.
The aim to share my experience here was to give a little insight about how things are panning out here, as UK seems to be one of the severely affected countries in the world. In India, I believe, a huge stigma associated with covid19 which has been created, rightly or wrongly I'm not too sure. We are all sailing in uncharted waters and there is a huge fear of the unknown everywhere. All i can tell is, the virus is very contagious, no two ways about it. But in about 90% of the population, it will just behave as a regular flu, mostly asymptomatic or with mild symptoms and you'll recover completely in a couple of weeks time. Fatality is being reported between 2-5% in general population but the risk is higher in people with underlying chronic diseases. Folks with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension and central obesity are at a higher risk of having a severe infection. So working towards a healthier lifestyle is probably in everyone's best interest.
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Old 12th May 2020, 18:36   #9
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Thanks for sharing the 1st account experience. Wishing you a fast recovery. BTW, any clue on how did you get infected? Any suspicion?

Last edited by msdivy : 12th May 2020 at 18:37.
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Old 12th May 2020, 18:42   #10
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UPDATE

Day 9 - May 12th - I have not required to take any paracetamol for the last 48 hours.
If I read correctly, the only medicine you have taken is paracetamol. Is that right?

Great to see you recover so fast and in such good spirits.
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Old 12th May 2020, 19:30   #11
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Thanks a lot for sharing the first hand account. Gives good idea about the symptoms and precautions to be observed when infected by this virus. I feel that making immune system strong is the key here. I have seen some persons suffering from same symptoms at my workplace. Some showed mild symptoms while other had little more. Some recovered in 2-3 days while some took more than a week. Depends on how badly it had struck you, how early you have figured out that you have been struck and how you handle it. Remaining positive at such time is most important.
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Old 12th May 2020, 20:21   #12
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Hi there.
Please accept my heartfelt congratulations on your recovery. I got very emotional reading your story. Being a doctor myself exposed to this threat resonated a bounding synonymity and sympathy with you throughout your ordeal- word by word.

What makes this thing so scary is- till we get a vaccine, it is not over. There is a chance for everyone to get infected. And this thing kills- quickly. Although only one or two in hundred but the no increases exponentially when millions are infected. Worst is not knowing whom it will affect the most.

Anyways your experience will serve as a guide and reminder for many here.

Wishing you all the best.
Thanks for the wishes. Happy to share my experience. We are all in it together and hope we will come out much stronger from it. Yes, a vaccine seems to be the best bet at the moment, but that too seems a bit distant as of now, till it actually comes into mass circulation.

Trouble with COVID19 is that we don't really know how long is the incubation period (likely to be between 2 to 14 days) and add to that many people will be asymptomatic carriers, the spread will continue for long periods of time. Although we are being told here, that one can come back to work on Day 8 from starting of your first symptom, provided you have not had any temperature of >37.8 for last 48 hours, suggesting there is next to minimal chance of one spreading the virus to others, but again how conclusive are those claims, I'm not too sure. Probably your guess is as good as mine.

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Thanks for sharing the 1st account experience. Wishing you a fast recovery. BTW, any clue on how did you get infected? Any suspicion?
Thanks. Although I've been exposed to Covid19 patients from March 17th, I'm pretty sure how I got it. Probably for me or for any young, healthy healthcare worker to become symptomatic, means that we have been exposed for a fairly long period of time and that we have a significant viral load to make us symptomatic.

As for me, quite sure I got it from an old 89 year old patient I cared for on 29th April (5 days before my first symptom appeared). Not going to divulge into too many details, but I had a prolonged exposure with her as she was deteriorating and it took us a fair bit of time to stabalize her. She was not tested positive till then, but we swabbed her at that moment and the swab did come back positive after 2 days. I was in the cubicle with her with just a surgical mask and a plain plastic apron and regular latex gloves. No, the guidelines don't permit for FFP3 mask and gowns and visors, unless we are performing an aerosol generating procedure like CPR.

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If I read correctly, the only medicine you have taken is paracetamol. Is that right?

Great to see you recover so fast and in such good spirits.
Thanks. Trying my best to keep the spirits high. Yes fortunately, the only medication I've taken is paracetamol. I'm off them as well now. In our hospital, we are just treating the symptoms. If someone has chest symptoms like breathlessness and cough, they are covered with antibiotics and are given oxygen support. Most of the staff isolating at home, did not require much more than Paracetamol and maybe a course of Azithromycin for super added bacterial chest infection.

We have a trial going on in the hospital with some moderate to severely ill patients divided into 4 randomized controlled groups - first group being tried with anti-viral medication (Anti HIV medication - Ritonavir), second one with anti-IL-6R biological treatment (Tocilizumab), third one with anti-inflammatory medication (Corticosteroids) and the fourth group being on placebo. It is still early days, but we have not really found any clear benefits from either treatment against placebo as yet. Let's see if anything conclusive comes out of it.
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Old 12th May 2020, 21:04   #13
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Thanks for sharing your story and all the best for your recovery !

Are you by any chance interning at Queen's Medical Center ? I had gotten my Master's degree from Uni Nottingham way back in 2007 and we had some lectures and modules at Queen's
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Old 12th May 2020, 21:11   #14
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Default Re: My experience with Covid-19: Got infected, and recovered!

Reading about it in news and hearing it from a fellow team bhp member, are two different things altogether. Wish you a speedy recovery buddy, and glad to see how you managed it all.

Sometimes i feel everyone will eventually get impacted, question is more like will it be before any specific medicine, or before it, and be treated for symptoms. Feels like living in a movie that we always thought happens only in theatre. Hopefully the happy end comes soon!
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Old 13th May 2020, 10:49   #15
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Default Re: My experience with Covid-19: Got infected, and recovered!

Congratulations on your fast recovery and thank you for sharing your ordeal and positive experiences with us.

90% of healthy people who do some exercise and have healthy life will have no problem with Covid-19 except mild symptoms and accompanying discomfort. Risk of severe symptoms and hospitalisation increases with age and other underlying health conditions which we start having at early age in India.

In India average age of people who have become casualty of Covid 19 is 60 and it is 80 in Italy. I am sure it is north of 60 in other countries as well. India has a younger population so mortality rate is lower than other countries. It will also be interesting to see if medical intervention is helping at all in severe cases. I think at this time only response to Covid infection is first response from body's immune system.

I am also under self quarantine along with my family as we were stuck in Himachal during first two phases of lockdown and returned with special permission. During our return, I learned that no matter how many precautions that we take, if we get out of our houses, the risk rises with it.

We have to stay healthy as we can not afford to live a stranded life for long.
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