After Weeks of Struggle with Virus, I Finally Tested Negative. But I Soon Realised Battle Was Only Half Won
A scientist presents an antibody test to use with a blood sample for the coronavirus at a laboratory. (Photo: AP)
After weeks of struggling with the coronavirus, finally testing negative for it is certainly a positive outcome, but it’s only half done. I realised this when I did not feel fit once my test result arrived. My singular, constant symptom of shortness of breath continued to trouble me for days despite the test having cleared me of the infection.
I decided to seek expert advice. My well-wishers reached out to the doctors in their family or those they knew well. This led to a plethora of opinion, some very contrasting and therefore confusing. I sifted through each one of them and decided to go with a few common observations. The first was to get a chest CT scan done, followed by a consultation with a pulmonologist.
When you have lived for as long as I have, you have pretty much consulted doctors from various specialised domains. But I was yet to meet a pulmonologist till a few days ago. It took me a day’s practice to pronounce the term properly. Pul-mo-no-log-ist. Breaking it up helped. Else, it can be quite a tongue-twister.
I opened an app which I use for medical appointments and began my search for a pulmonologist. It didn’t take much time. I decided on one after checking the ratings and reviews shared by patients who had consulted this doctor in the past. It helped that his clinic was 15 minutes away from the diagnostic centre where my chest was scanned. I collected the report and left to meet the doctor. In the car, I tried to make sense of the findings and interpretation mentioned in the report. I understood half of it. I hoped the pulmonologist would fill in the gaps which were unclear to me.
I sent a silent prayer heavenward as I entered the doctor’s home clinic. Dr Santosh Jha took a long, good look at the CT scan films and was able to reproduce the findings exactly mentioned in the report. He had not glanced at the report. I matched his statements with the report in my hand. He explained the nature of the problem and how it can be treated. The damn virus had left its mark on my lungs and it would take at least six to eight weeks for its footprint to disappear. For that to happen, I needed medication, at least eight hours of sleep, breathing exercises and a high-protein diet. I was relieved to be told there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am still not sure if things will go as per what Dr Jha told me but I was happy that he managed to put my immediate health anxiety at rest. Well begun is half done.
I woke up the next morning all set to sail on the ship towards recovery, knowing the journey is going to take time. I knew the diet can be managed and I was ready to focus more on breathing exercises which are part of my daily yoga routine. But how do I manage eight hours of sleep? For nearly eight years, I am not used to more than six hours of sleep. Not that I don’t want to sleep more. It just doesn’t happen.
The toughest part, however, is to avoid anxiety. I was told anxiety has an adverse impact on breathing and is therefore bad for the lungs, so I should stay calm and rest easy. It is easy to say this. But how does one make it happen?
A dear friend suggested an app which could help me deal with it — teach me to be calm and help me meditate. Meditation is the single toughest activity for me. I find it impossible to focus on just one thing or even nothing. I am someone who multi-thinks all the time, especially more if I am asked to meditate. All my previous efforts to meditate have been unsuccessful. I had given up. This was not for me. My friend urged me to try once again. And this time I had a pretty good reason to. I want to get well soon and this was one way to get there.
After five days of practice, I feel it is not impossible. It can happen though I know I have miles to go before I get there. It needs lots of practice and a strong will.
My advice to all those who test negative after being found coronavirus positive is this: you can celebrate that the virus was not detected in your body this time but do not assume everything is well. It is important to go through some tests before you can rest assured. Just like a pest that enters your home creates a lot of mess which takes time to clean, the virus can have a similar effect. So watch your symptoms, seek medical advice and go through the necessary examinations before you are completely sure that you are clear.