Anugrah Pandya, 27
Discharged on March 26
“At first, I was very chill. I had no symptoms at all. I was spending my days in hospital reading, watching videos… But then, each time someone recovered and left the ward, it got tough. I felt like I was in a jail,” recalls Anugrah Pandya, who tested positive for COVID-19 in early March.
Back from a vacation from Indonesia with his wife, the newly-weds cleared the thermal screening at the Delhi airport fairly easily and, after 14 days of self- quarantine at their home in Noida, the 27-year-old was ready to get back to work. “But my office insisted on a test. So my wife and I went to the Noida testing centre, where I tested positive and she negative,” says Pandya, who works at a software firm.
On March 18, Pandya was hospitalised at the Government Institute of Medical Sciences in Greater Noida and his wife was moved to a hostel nearby. “My wife was new to the city and I couldn’t have left her alone at home… I was among the first batch of COVID-19 patients. There were three of us together in a ward. Everyone was figuring out how to deal with us. The three of us shared one toilet and, initially, there was no bathing facility. Then they installed a shower but that broke after a few days. The plumber refused to fix it. So I went without a shower for the entire 14-day period, just rubbed sanitiser all over myself,” he says. “Every day, we were given fresh bed-sheets, which we had to change ourselves, three meals and a few medicines. Our vitals were also checked daily… Throughout my stay, I didn’t show any symptoms.”
While his time at the hospital was “tough”, it is the 14-day quarantine at home now, amid the lockdown in the country that he and his wife are struggling to get used to. “After I tested negative for the virus, I was released from hospital on March 26. But I will officially be COVID-free only on April 10. It has been over a month since I have seen anyone… I have started doing my office work from home and now I am focussing on eating healthy and exercising a little bit. My wife and I have split all the chores among ourselves… We are disinfecting the house all the time,” says Pandya, who returned from Indonesia on March 2.
The 27-year-old admits that living in a city away from family and friends, while dealing with a health crisis, hasn’t been easy for the couple. “I decided not to tell my family that I tested positive… They live in a village in Rajasthan and there are all kinds of rumours doing the rounds. They would have only got more worried. In the neighbourhood too, everyone is very scared. When I informed my landlord that I was returning from hospital, he did suggest that we move into a hostel, but he’s okay now. One of my neighbours also called recently and asked if we needed any help,” he says.
Since Pandya and his wife still have another week before they can step out, the district magistrate’s office has been helping them out with essentials. “I send them a list on WhatsApp, and they send across the items – but only non-perishables. We have not eaten vegetables or had milk in the house for days. Only dal-chawal and roti,” he smiles.
However, says Pandya, the experience has not left him bitter or disheartened in any way. “We got married recently and obviously, this was not how we wanted things to pan out. But I didn’t go through any physical pain. All of us just have to be more cautious, that’s all, and focus on strengthening our immunity.”
He also has a word of advice for other patients: “I have stopped reading forwarded messages on WhatsApp. Many of them talk of gharelu upchaar (home remedies) for increasing immunity… They may be good, but they won’t cure COVID-19.”
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