Posted by Dr. Urmi Neogi, Allahabad
The second wave of the pandemic in India caught everyone unprepared by its ferocity and virulence. It led to nation-wide dearth of testing kits, oxygen supply, medicines and even hospital beds. In spite of all these odds, the front line doctors and health workers did not leave any stone unturned to save as many lives as they could.
18th April: Dhruv Dasgupta, 43 years old, father of two girls, 14 years and 5 years old respectively, and personally known to us, rings me about his fever and oxygen saturation. He had tested positive for COVID-19 virus. He had arranged for oxygen support at home.
19th April: He gets breathless and rings again. This is his 6th day of fever. As usual a CT scan follows, shows a moderate score and we tell him to get hospitalised. Now starts the struggle. There are no beds available in the only COVID hospital in Allahabad – The Medical College.
20th April: Matters get serious. Still no bed and reports of deaths are now common.
21st April: Luckily, the District Magistrate orders some private hospitals to become COVID hospitals, including ours. It takes us one more day to get all our logistics and personnel in order. Dhruv is now fighting for his life and manages to get into another private hospital.
23rd April: As we make our hospital a dedicated COVID hospital, we are inundated with patients and are soon houseful.
24th, 25th April: In the middle of death and gloom, Dhruv’s family and friends plead with us to transfer him to our hospital. The state of affairs where he got admitted is pathetic. He may not survive.
26th April: We take him in, absolutely breathless, oxygen saturation falling to the 60s. By now, body-bags are literally flowing out from our back-door. How quickly patients succumb to this deadly disease is a stark reality right in front of us! Can we be hopeful for Dhruv? I fear that another family may become destitute.
27th, 28th, 29th April: Dhruv keeps fighting! He refuses to give up hope. He’s on a BiPAP machine (a non-invasive device that pushes air into the lungs), doing pronation breathing exercises like a maniac. He does not show drop in energy. We, too, begin to see some hope. His saturation with full oxygen flow nears 80. Still a long way to go.
30th April night: A call from the hospital – Dhruv is sinking, oxygen goes down to 56!!!! But we have given him everything in the last few days – antibiotics, Dexona, Remdesvir, non-stop BiPAP, Insulin for his sugar and so on. We are as desperate to save him as he is desperate to live. A discussion with the team, and we change his steroid from Dexona to Solumedrol – very high dose. We have to take a gamble and pray.
1st May: There is a remarkable turnaround. The oxygen rises, reaches 80 again.
2nd, 3rd and 4th May: Prayers, prayers, prayers… Dhruv is see-sawing. We are at our wits’ end.
5th May: Dhruv with his pronation exercises fights hard, and for the first time shows oxygen saturation of 90!
6th May: Steady 90 with BiPAP.
7th May: Weaning off the BiPAP is initiated, few minutes at a time.
8th May: He maintains on nasal oxygen. BiPAP is now only intermittent, whenever saturation falls to less than 90.
9th May: BiPAP-free day!!!
10th May: Maintains well with nasal oxygen.
11th May: Dhruv shifts to General Ward from ICU.
12th May: Redemption! Going home! Very weak, very dirty (needs a bath – the hospital sponging wash wasn’t enough), barely audible, totally dependent on others for everything. BUT ALIVE!
I ring his family now and then, to check on his progress, and to guide them. Today, it is almost a month that he has been at home, and he sent this clipping of his.
Dr. Urmi Neogi is an eminent Gynaecologist & Obstetrics Surgeon based in Allahabad. She is also Founder-Director of Phoenix Hospital in the city.
Cover Image : Global News
Story Video : Author
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