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Doctor Diaries: 'What COVID-19 taught me apart from science and medicine?: Dr. Anant Patil'

M3 India Newsdesk Oct 24, 2020

In a new entry of Doctor Diaries, Dr. Anant Patil shares his experience with COVID-19, how he coped with the stress of the infection, and the important life lessons he picked up at the time.

The morning of September 6th, 2020, Sunday was unusual. I woke up at around 7 am with extreme weakness and mild fever. I was of course cautious because of working in a dedicated COVID-19 hospital. I isolated myself from the family members on a precautionary basis thinking that it may be COVID-19 infection. Being Sunday, and a holiday, I was not in a hurry to go on duty unlike other days. With paracetamol, fever reduced and myalgia got a little better. Temperature again raised to 100°F after a few hours and bodyache started.

On Sunday, fever and myalgia was temporarily responding to a tablet of paracetamol. On September 7th i.e. Monday I decided to go for a COVID-19 test. However, because of a specific sampling collection time, my sample could not be collected. Fever and myalgia existed on Monday too. On September 8th morning, I went to check of COVID-19 on time. There was no fever on 8th, but myalgia was persistent. Nasopharyngeal swab was collected and sent for testing. On September 9th, afternoon, I was informed that my report was positive for COVID-19. The virus had finally caught me and a new learning for me started from here.

I had to be mentally strong to support my family as they were in contact with me. It was a dreadful day, to manage everything along with my wife. I decided to get admitted on 9th September. Around evening 5 PM, I got admitted in DY Patil Hospital, Navi Mumbai. This was the time when multi-tasking was essential and most critical. I had to manage my own hospitalisation along with supporting family members.

The next day, my wife and both kids were subjected to COVID-19 testing. My wife tested positive and kids tested negative. Here was another challenge; how and where to isolate the children? I called my brother to take them to his home in Pune. Unless you have strong family support, facing such times is a real challenge.

On my third day of hospitalisation, my wife was also admitted to the hospital. As far as I remember, this was my first hospitalisation. We both were successfully treated and discharged. The days of hospitalisation for COVID-19 treatment taught me the following.

Learning from the challenge thrown by COVID-19: 10 important lessons

Be mentally strong: Every physical illness will have some component of psychological stress. In order to be able to face any physical illness, we need to be mentally strong. High stress may result in difficulty in quick and rational decision making. Moreover, mental stress can have impact on physical illness also.

Support your family during difficult times: When any one member of family is unwell, the whole family gets psychologically affected. Providing psychological support to family is necessary.

Getting support from family: During difficult times, you understand how important your family is for you. It may not be feasible to meet in person, but a simple phone call can provide a sense of belonging and care.

Multi-tasking: When both members of the family are hospitalised, multi-tasking becomes important. Successfully managing hospital related work (following with insurance, talking to doctors and other healthcare workers, going to investigation on your own, the hospital work, and handling newly emerging problems with kids when you are not physically with them can only be possible if you have ability of multi-tasking.

Good relations with friends and peers: During such times, support which may seem trivial otherwise is really significant. Coordination and support from friends and peers can help to overcome these challenges easily.

Need to develop some hobby: Passing time in the hospital environment may be extremely difficult. Listening to music or reading can help to divert mind from physical and mental stress.

Learnings from healthcare workers

Tireless working: The work of doctors, nurses and other support staff in the hospital indirectly taught me how to work tirelessly and be supportive to others.

Passion: Whichever field you work in, passion for the profession is required. It gives happiness and improves productivity.

Selfless work: Many healthcare workers are away from their family, just to help patients with COVID-19. They teach us how to live for others.

Careful and diligent work: Even slight carelessness or lapse in taking precautions related to COVID-19 can result in increased risk of infection to self or transmission to others. COVID-19 pandemic has helped us understand the importance of careful and diligent work.

Doctor Diaries is M3 India's new blog section where we encourage our doctor members to share stories and anecdotes from their professional lives that may have made a deep personal impact. If you have a story to tell, write down your story and the lessons it left you with and share with us on email at editor@m3india.in. We will give it the audience that it deserves. Read more about Doctor Diaries here.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of M3 India.

The author, Dr. Anant Patil is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology.

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