“How can I be positive? How can I have it? Out of all people…I mean, I was so careful. I only stepped out to buy groceries & went to the dry cleaners. Everything I ordered…all contactless deliveries…”
I tested positive for COVID-19 on the 5th of July.
Although I was mentally prepared for the news, my heart just didn’t want to believe it; perhaps, because with the news, came a clear picture of the current dystopian situation. We can’t escape it anymore, no matter how careful we are being.
I had a terrible fever about 6 days ago. I had a massive headache & my body ached like I couldn’t get up from the bed, I had chills and since then I can’t smell anything. I googled the COVID-19 symptoms and more than 80% have reported the loss of smell and taste so, I had to get tested.
A little bit about me: I’m 27 and I have no underlying disease (at least not that I know of), I have never smoked in my life nor touched alcohol, before this whole lockdown situation I used to work out every day and during, I’ve been doing Zumba at home. I do consume meat & dairy (even though I’m lactose intolerant)- I would call myself fairly healthy. In four months of lockdown, I’ve only stepped out 7 times to buy the essentials and to get my laundry done. I also ordered take away food almost every day and a bunch of other stuff online (all were contactless deliveries). I always wore a mask, used sanitizer religiously, washed my hands numerous times, and maintained “social distance” at all times. I do not know how I got it but, I have my mind stuck on “it could be the air-conditioned supermarket”. There’s community transmission in Mumbai and there’s no way to trace it to the source, we’re well beyond that point.
It’s also the flu season in India so when I had the fever, I initially thought it was the common flu but soon into it, I had realized it was something else. The headache wasn’t something I was used to, it was bad, to a point I couldn’t get up from my bed the entire day. I took regular paracetamol (Dolo 650 mg) and drank plenty of water to keep myself hydrated. My whole body was in pain as if I had gone hiking after a long period of time. I had no difficulty breathing but I lost my sense of taste followed by anosmia. After 2 days, my fever was gone completely, I felt absolutely normal but still no sense of smell. I noticed a very peculiar thing which never happened to me before, during those two days I had lost the color of my lips, they looked pale. I knew something foreign had entered my body and my body was trying its best to fight it. I decided “If I don’t get all my senses back in 3 days’ time, I’m gonna get tested”. Those days I tried to observe if I had any difficulty breathing but I felt just fine except the food tasted bland to me.
Friday, on the 3rd of July, I decided to get tested for COVID-19. I called the national helpline number which automatically transferred to West Bengal (my home state). I told them to transfer me to Maharashtra and they gave me the state helpline number for Maharashtra. I kept calling the number but it was always busy. I googled “COVID-19 test near me” and a bunch of private hospitals came up where “referral” was required. I called Nanavati and told them that I needed to get tested for COVID-19 but they told me to call again and this time “connect to emergency”. I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of the situation. I was kind of thankful that I didn’t have severe symptoms but also felt sad about the dysfunctional healthcare system. Now, this is one of the most popular & biggest hospitals in Mumbai. On emergency extension, I stated my problem and they asked if I had any referral of a doctor and I said “no”. They gave me the number of a doctor and asked me to call him. Upon calling him, he told me to get tested. There was no warmth in his voice and I personally felt quite disheartened. He sounded mechanical; for a moment I thought “Wow! My life really has no value, I’m just a number, I guess”. This whole process took 2 hours by the way. I finally got my referral and went to Nanavati immediately to get tested.
When I arrived, things were not easy. First of all, they asked me for my Aadhaar Card which is kind of like the social security number in India; I had to shout at the top of my lungs during billing (because they were too far with layers of protection and could barely hear me), then there was some form fill-up, then there was the waiting and then there was the test. The swab test is extremely uncomfortable but I wouldn’t label it as painful. The whole time, I felt like my life just didn’t matter to them. I paid INR 2800 or USD 37 for the test which my insurance refused to cover. I got a call at night that my test was unsuccessful and I had to get tested again. So, Saturday morning I was back at Nanavati for my 2nd test (they didn’t charge me again). This time it felt worse; trust me, the Swab test doesn’t get easier with time. I felt the same neglect as the last time. To top it off, both days I had to face heavy rainfall due to monsoon; it was no joke, it felt as if the sky is falling.
Sunday morning, I got a call from BMC telling me that I tested positive for COVID-19. A team of healthcare workers visited my home and gave me medication. A team also came to sanitize my apartment. I was given a choice of home quarantine or shifting to a quarantine facility near my place. I live alone so I chose home quarantine. This will last 14 days. I had to ask for an emergency number in case of, you know, emergency.
I don’t have anyone who can supply food to me on a regular basis; thank God I stocked up. I have enough for 14 days, hopefully, if I ration well, otherwise, there’s literally no way for me to get supplies unless I request my neighbors or something. I am quite independent and I don’t want to bother anyone so I’m surviving with whatever I have. I still have no sense of smell; I’ve been suggested to take steam every day.
It does feel bad at times but I keep reminding myself that I chose this. I mean, I could shift to the quarantine facility, I could go to my hometown to stay with my family when I had the chance but I chose to stay in Mumbai and fight the current situation. I remind myself that I’m loved and I have a wonderful family who is with me in spirit. I have anxiety and these days I do think a lot about my past relationship (it gets tremendously lonely at times) but I immediately remind myself that I was never loved by him and I wasn’t happy.
Being absolutely alone in the current situation has made me stronger and more independent than ever. I have learned how strong I can be and I will never underestimate myself again. I try to be cheerful as much as I can, even though it gets super difficult at times and I do shed some tears every now and then but I’m staying strong and fighting this as hard as I can. The idea of writing this post is to let others know who are in similar situations that — you are not alone, stay strong, this too shall pass, I’m with you! ❤️