Dr Arun Mitra
With a linear fall of Corona infection cases earlier, not only in our country but around the globe, a complacency had developed about the preventive measures.
Life cannot come to a standstill but when the situation is not conducive some changes in the lifestyle need to be made. As there is a surge in the cases of COVID, the whole discussion about prevention of the disease has started again. With new variant strains coming in we find some people getting infected for the second time. With the coming of vaccine there is a renewed hope among the population, even though there is controversy over the efficacy and the time period for which immunity will be provided by the vaccine. The experts give us hope that vaccine may not give complete protection but if someone is taken ill after the vaccination then the severity of diseases is minimized and life is saved. This has given some confidence among the population after an initial hesitancy in getting vaccinated.
Much has been said about the preventive measures like keeping physical distance, washing and sanitizing hands, using masks and staying away from the crowded places etc. but not much attention has been paid to the stress which the patient and the family pass through. Even though percentage of death rate is less than 2 per cent, the tension and stress in the family suddenly escalates. Since even the doctors cannot predict the course of disease, uncertainty adds to the problem. We however know that the elderly and those with co-morbid conditions are more vulnerable to become serious. The uncertainty of the course of the disease is a cause for mental stress the patient as well as the family pass through. Therefore it is important that this issue is discussed more and the fears are allayed.
The family has to be explained that the number of people getting serious is very little. Therefore if the person is not having any co-morbid condition and is not in highly vulnerable age group the chances of his coming out of the disease are very bright. This gives lot of confidence to the whole family and the patient. Even those in the vulnerable age group and with co morbid conditions are to be given confidence and hope that if they take care they would remain alright.
When the reports come positive the patient is advised to go into quarantine for 17 days. This adds to the already stressful mental state of affairs of the person. Beside the illness the person gets worried of the long duration to stay alone.
This is a crucial period but a meticulous scientific planning soon reduces the stress and one learns to manage these 17 days. One should not count 17 days, but one day at a time. After the report comes there is some time during which one should collect the essential items and other things like mobile phone, laptop, pen, note book and books of interest etc. These will help in planning the period and keep you connected with the outside world.
During the quarantine it is important to keep regular oxygen check before and after a six minute walk minimum of four times a day. This gives us clue of the lung functions at that particular moment.
It is advisable to sleep with belly below and back up. This helps in clearing lungs. Sleeping on one side also helps. The patient should undertake breathing exercises in the morning hours. This helps in giving strength to the lungs.
In the day time one should spend sufficient time in reading news papers, books of interest and also checking your emails and chatting with your friends. Video conferencing helps in connecting better and reduces loneliness. One should try to live in a room with balcony and spend some time in watching the people moving around. If there is attached kitchen with the room one should try to cook if the health permits. This helps in fulfilling your taste needs as well as nourishment. Light exercise is important to keep the joints free in mobility. It helps to watch entertainment programmes on television. As the condition improves and fever goes down, one can do some exercise.
It is important for the others to stay away from the patient’s room when the food is given from outside but the patient should maintain good hydration by taking sufficient amount of liquids and healthy diet as advised by the doctor.
Best is to design your own day as you are the best person who knows your interests and daily requirements. By keeping oneself busy, soon one will find the hidden skills coming out which give pleasure because you were not able to carry out those earlier because of several reasons. It is always good to share daily experience with someone whom you trust.
Remember you are not in jail but in quarantine in your own home. Read about those who have lived in isolation in solitary cells in jails for several years but never lost hope. Large number of freedom fighters in cellular jail in Andaman Nicobar islands spent their prime youth in tough times but kept themselves strong. Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in one cell in loneliness but never felt alone instead continued to fight to victory.
Dr Arun Mitra