Author: Dr. Prajakta Mungikar- OKe (MD, Physician)
It all started somewhere in March, 2020. We were watching news and videos of China and people being locked in, forcibly in their own houses to prevent the spread of the new virus “ Novel Corona Virus AKA COVID 19”.
It all seemed unreal as we were so far away, residing in USA. We never imagined that this virus would ever reach us. We were WRONG! Within days, the picture changed drastically, as if we were waking up from a bad dream. In no time we were thinking, is it necessary to close schools? Then it happened. Was it necessary to close clinics? Then it happened
I had spent days planning the much-awaited trip to Disneyland in Florida for spring break and then DISNEY PARKS closed. Our kids were disheartened as they are too little to understand why their trip had to be cancelled.
At work was a different situation. I am an Internal Medicine physician and see patients in outpatient setting. Now, we started Tele-visits (Video/ Phone visits for patients), which nobody had ever done or heard about. Patients panicked about their healthcare, started fearing to go to ERs and hospitals, even if they were really sick, because of the fear of acquiring COVID 19.
We were answering innumerable patient calls, created separated COVID access centers and clinics to handle the situation. It was overwhelming would be an understatement. Handling patient’s fears, concerns and the uncertainties involved with the overall situation.
My husband, Dr. Vikram Oke, is an ICU/ Pulmonary physician. Him directly working in the midst of this, was hardest for us to handle. His 12-14 hr. ICU shifts were long as it is and he happened to stay back at the hospital for that entire week to avoid us from being exposed. This was psychologically very disturbing for all of us, especially the kids, not being able to see Dad after work.
Over the months now, we have adapted to this new COVID lifestyle. Our kids reckon that parents go to work, wear a mask at home and try maintaining social distancing even at home to keep family members safe.
As a physician, I would like to emphasize “Not to Panic” but to be very careful and cautious about your surroundings at any given time. Panic leads to fear and anxiety and more mistakes. Always Wear a mask when you step out of your house. If you wear gloves, please be sure not to touch your face and discard them as soon as you are done using them in a safe manner. Always be sure to maintain 6-8 feet distance from the person beside you and make sure they are masked as well. Hand-hygiene being of utmost importance, does not always have to be with sanitizers, use soap and water and wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds at least.
It is very hard to differentiate common cold symptoms, flu and allergy symptoms from COVID 19, factors in favor of COVID 19 would be Cough, Fever, Fatigue especially after possibly being exposed to someone sick and needs medical attention immediately. With scarcity of testing, diagnosis of COVID 19 is difficult but consulting your doctor immediately after start of symptoms should help.
Elderly people above age 65, young people with medical conditions such as Asthma, High blood pressure, Diabetes, cancers, put on immunosuppressants are at increased risk. Young people with no medical problems have also been affected, some with severe symptoms.
With workplaces reopening, please be aware of your surroundings, maintain social distancing and try working from home as much as possible as it will prevent exposure and positive cases.
Use your own water and food supplies, in possibly disposable containers, so you don’t carry any microbes home. Leave shoes outside the house and make sure to take a good bath after work and sanitize phones, wallets, belts, purses, car seats, steering wheel, door handles etc. Any extra cleaning will only protect you and your family.
We try to educate and inform patients about “ Stay Home, Stay safe and Wear masks to save lives”. This word was spread a little too late, but looks like it will reach home some day. This is the only way we could Win this battle.
The positives to look for in this dismal time is: Keep Yourself and surroundings clean, Love your family and friends as Life is uncertain, value Everything In Life, especially Sanitizers and toilet paper and LET NATURE HEAL.