Fighting the Pandemic – In Conversation with Dr. Vishrut


What happens when the one who is fighting to protect others is themselves attacked? Dr. Vishrut Kaushik, a 23 year old MBBS intern shares his experience of what is it to be at the frontline, contracting COVID, and overcoming it.

How has your experience been like to be at the frontline of the pandemic?

A. I was involved in a number of COVID duties from running the OPD at Primary Health Center, door to door sample collection in high risk areas/containment zones, night duties where I had to go to positive patients’ houses to collect history for contact tracing. Initially, we had no protective equipment, I was in the OPD without any kit, wearing a simple mask and gloves. During this time, I came in contact with so many people that it’s actually impossible for me to trace the root from where I exactly got infected. Though, I was always mentally prepared about the possibility of getting infected. My parents have been worried too, they would ring me every day to ask how I am doing, about work, etc.

When did you decide to get yourself tested? What were you going through while waiting for the results?

A. I wasn’t really worried. Two days prior to my test, I had a constant headache, which was so bad that I couldn’t sleep despite popping the pills. I went to work the next day, everything was fine until I came back to my apartment. I noticed that I have developed a high temperature and that’s when I decided that I should better get myself tested.

Next morning, I got tested, came back, ate lunch, studied for some time. I received my test results in the evening. I’d say it was like any other normal day, although one without work (which I got after ages). I had managed to maintain a calm composure throughout the process.

What was your reaction like when you tested positive? How did your family respond?

A. I straightaway called my father, although I decided to keep it away from my mother because I didn’t want her to fret. So, I kept her in the dark until I was finally discharged.

After informing my father, I acted with agility and focused on my next step. I enquired about my options which were to choose between the general ward, home quarantine and paid hotel (turned COVID Care Centre). Indubitably, I was clear about my choice. So, I informed the authorities and went for my quarantine at the Covid Care Center. To be honest, my nonchalant state was pretty unusual for someone who just tested positive. Probably, I managed to remain relaxed because I was already mentally prepared for this.

Will you tell us about your quarantine phase at the COVID Care Centre?

A. The COVID Care Centre, since it was paid, was well maintained. It was a five star hotel with uncompromised hygiene, even the staff wore PPE kits and doctors took regular rounds. I was given a separate room and the food was delicious. What else do you need for a 14 day stay? Hotel staff used to call and keep a check on me, asking me if I had any preferences for food or if I’d like them to make something particular and they did their best with the lockdown in place and limited resources available. I got a much needed break from the hectic schedule. I spent my time mostly playing video-games or watching Netflix shows on my laptop. I even studied for a PG exam.

How were you mentally and emotionally dealing with the isolation? Was there anything that caused distress?

A. I knew that I ought to be relaxed, so I didn’t take any stress. Stress never helps in any case. Infact, people around me were panicking more than I was. I was the one consoling them that everything is okay and there is nothing to worry about. I was relieved that my parents are safe back in my hometown. But at the same time, I felt sad that I had no one to take care of me, I was all alone. It was tough to do everything on my own.

Do you have any takeaways or major learnings from the experience?

A. It is more about your perception. For some it may have been a tough experience, they might not have dealt with it like I did. Being at death’s door is not easy to cope with. For me, it was easy by God’s grace because I’m young. I was sure that I’ll recover. My only concern, as I told you, was living alone and managing everything by myself. At times like this, you also learn about the true nature of people around you, it becomes quite visible that who genuinely cares and who is there just for sake of it. It definitely gives a new perspective to life. It doesn’t matter at what end of the spectrum you are on – whether it’s good or bad.

Interviewed By – Nivia Jain Artwork by – Gayathri Nair

#covidwarriors #covid #frontline #mentalhealth #covid19support #covidsurvivors

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