An experience with COVID19

Naresh Kumar is a Senior Corporate Communica0ons professional with over 28 years of experience. Presently he is working as General Manager (Corporate Communica0ons) at Power Grid Corpora0on of India Limited (POWERGRID) (A Government of India Maharatna Company).
At the dinner table, while watching the news channels broadcast stories of the pandemic, Naresh Kumar eyed the last piece of sweet, and gulped it in haste as he pondered over the state of affairs, and the impact of Coronavirus on the popula0on. At work, being a communica0ons professional, he found ways to create posi0ve and informa0ve messages to make people understand about the situa0on and myths around it. LiPle did he know that during his noble service, he too would be tested posi0ve. This 0me, his fight was not only against diabetes, but the COVID-19.
He shares the story of his journey:
My journey from the edge of the COVID abyss and back has been nothing short of a miracle and an exercise of self-awakening. But the struggle with the stigma, the isolation and the disease teaches you a lot. Having come out of the crisis, I can say that whatever it may do to your body, don’t let COVID take over your mind. The main objective of writing this is to thank everyone who were part of this difficult journey and also to share my experience that exposed me to this aspect of life.
I was diagnosed with diabetes few years back, and probably it runs in my family. I regularly check my blood sugar through the day, depending on what I eat and if I might need any corrections. When I tested positive on 16th June, I was suffering with mild fever and coughing. It all began when a throat infection hit me, along with acute tonsil infection. I took hot water sips and did saline gargles as prescribed by my Company’s doctor, Dr. Parul Prinja. She suggested me to go for a precautionary test for COVID19 just because of proximity to a number of patients in the surrounding area.
After the lab official visited and took my test, I isolated myself from my loving family in a room with a separate setup before the results of the test were to come in. I was already sick for the past few days and had been shivering. The test came in positive in the evening of 16th June, 2020 and my life took a jolt for the next few minutes. I got worried about myself and more so for my family. As per the protocol advised by doctors for a positive patient, I had to go in isolation period for 17 days, and my family had to be in isolation for 14 days.
Several calls and messages from my office peers, industry professionals, media friends, seniors and others seniors built my resolve and also diverted me from negative thoughts. As a good employer, my Company stood by me in such difficult times, by providing medical equipments and protective gear like gloves, sanitizers, masks, oximeter, thermometer, disinfectant etc. Even disposable plates, napkins, cutlery etc. were kept at my door next day. A nodal officer had been appointed and POWERGRID doctor followed up with me regularly in coordination with the Fortis Hospital as part of the patient care package. Even the present and superannuated senior management members of the Company expressed their concern, and bountiful love and affection. Arrangements for disinfecting and fogging at my house were also made by the Company. This gave me a lot of mental security.
I planned my 17-day isolation and developed a management mechanism to calm myself so that it does not reflect on my health and mental state. I discussed and discovered myself in rational ways, to get over the fear of the virus affecting me and my family.
I began concentrating and analyzing to come out from this trauma, in search for enlightenment. I started my new routine of meditating like a disciple of the Buddha, and focussed my energies. Everyday, I imagined myself in my room sitting atop the majestic Himalayas, alone, working on my strengths. This helped me lower my Blood Pressure to normal. I could sense myself walking in the woods & listening to the sounds of flowing Binwa river (near my native place). In the next thought, I was playing with my childhood friends in Himalayas, reminiscing all my beautiful days of teenage, listening to wise advices and talks of my all elders who had left for the heavenly abode long time back.
I compromised with the reality and became friends with it. I thought to myself, that when I could drive my motorbike and gypsy with my adventures group in Ladakh, about 20 years back in absence of well-built roads and drive on the most uncertain terrains, then why couldn’t I fight a virus? The spirit of the young adventurer in me came before my eyes and took a step to unleash the real courage in myself. Being a Himachali, I have an affinity for the mountains, and have been a nature aficionado all through my life. I adore river rafting at high levels and have survived from drowning several times, having had near-death experiences. The strong and sudden currents in waters of Zanskar, Beas and Ganga rivers jostle you and prepare you mentally for unforeseen circumstances, and the passion for playing with high tides grows on you. The love for nature proved beneficial. Nature taught me that if you love and respect it, it will always take care of your safety. I invested in my strength and my life which was built on testing situations and was never luxurious. This empowered me to have a fighting spirit, and combat my problems fearlessly. Coming from a humble and a farmer family background from the Himalayan belt, helped me gain newer perspective. We had learnt from the mighty hills to handle the toughest situations with a positive attitude without any grievance. That was the great learning curve and courage infused in our personalities by our elders, in the true Himalayan tough lifestyle.
When about seven days had passed, I was happy to know that none of my family members had showed any symptoms of the virus. It was a moment of joy when all my prayers were being answered and they all were fine inside the house. We shared this joy with each other through phone, sitting in different rooms. During this time, I remembered one of my friends telling me: God knows us well and gives us only those hardships, which he knows that we shall be able to bear. Probably, there was no better time than this to draw a deeper meaning to his insight.
With renewed vigor I went back to communication basics and followed the KISS Rule – Keep It Simple Silly. This rule has always worked for disseminating the message and managing public relations for me. At this juncture, it again came in handy. When the dawn of next day came, I began my fight for a healthy life. I made a chart of all those activities that I was required to do during this time. I drew energies from positive thoughts. I continued taking oximeter readings 4 times every day, checking my blood pressure and diabetes, and drinking 3-4 liters of hot water as suggested by doctor. Through the help of a regime of doing gargles, taking multivitamins, sporting a positive attitude, revisiting my past and meditation theory I started recovering rapidly.
I also availed this time to connect with my long-lost friends. I regained my interests in music especially classical and ghazals of Ustad Shujaat Khan, and learnt about the importance of putting efforts to keep alive even the most long-lost relationships in life. I connected with my native place and roots of my parents. I got back to writing; my main activity since my days of 1991 of writing articles for newspapers, and wrote about Himachali culture and traditions and other social issues. Some of my articles also got published in the leading newspapers of Himachal Pradesh, and readers began connecting with me. This time however, I was not doing intercommunication, but adopting intra-communication. Books on life skills and philosophy, became my new friends, and I was able to convert the negativity into quality time by maintaining positive attitude. I connected with my IIMC friends and friends from Delhi University, and relived 30-year old memories of sharing banter and spending time as Editor of the college/University Magazine, with them telephonically. This was a signal that now was the right time for Naresh 2.0.
Finally the 17th day came, and I got my fitness certificate on July 2, 2020 from Dr.Parul Prinja and Fortis Hospital. The moment I opened the door of my room after 17 days, I not only opened it to the World while getting a whiff of fresh air, but also to see my family and hold my dog, ‘Buddy’ in my hands once again. I wished that time could freeze that very moment. Meeting them all of them again was ethereal.
Another chapter just got added in my life, and I am grateful to my family who supported me and had to unfortunately bear problems apart from being in isolation. I am also glad that my department stood behind by me like a rock, and displayed utmost values of professionalism and work efficiency in my absence and yet sincerely cared for me. Today, a good number of anti bodies have been generated in my body, and at the same time, I am happy that I have become a possible donor now. Together, we can survive the pandemic.
I give this message to everyone to take it in right spirit and always believe that we can get through this pandemic. You have to handle this situation yourself with positive attitude, confidence and without fear, under the proper instructions to be followed by your doctor, and you can conquer this virus. We need to be vigilant, conscious and save ourselves, our society at large, and try to be in safe environments as much as possible. Once again, I thank those who stood by me. Let us be positive. Just do not be COVID Positive!