Get infected with COVID-19 during patient care, develop symptoms, fall severely sick, breathless, and weak, and fight to survive lonely- this is the unbelievable story of Dr. Solomon S. Pudi, a specialty Doctor in ENT at NHS, Oldham, United Kingdom. Solomon was confronting the illness without realizing the fact that this was a serious case of COVID-19.
He was infected with COVID-19, developed symptoms multiple times, and neither tested nor treated properly. He was hit by the virus at a time when the COVID Cases were a far reality for him and his colleagues in Manchester. They were well aware about the outbreak in Wuhan and knew that cases were reported in London, but never encountered or expected a case in their place.
Even after developing cold and fever he didn’t take leave from the hospital, and continued his work, took daily rounds in the hospital, worked in OPD, and even performed surgeries, until he fainted. He suspects that he got infected from his colleague with whom he was performing surgeries. His colleague was a frequent traveller to London on weekends, to attend his London Clinic on Saturdays and Sundays.Two days after performing a surgery with this colleague (who had a cough), Dr. Solomn had symptoms of a common cold. Two more days passed, and his symptoms became worse His team lead suggested Dr. Solomon to have antibiotics for sinusitis as it was found to be severe and to be treated properly.
. . “By day 5, I was having the worst fever in my life, I was feeling weak, and started having breathlessness, and that was the worst thing, On day 6, I went to the hospital, completed morning rounds without realising that my fever was something uncommon. But after some time, when I had breathlessness along with fever, which was rapidly progressing; I felt something was not right. I went into a room, locked myself inside, and slept on the floor because I was having a weird fear in my mind that something was wrong. I woke up in the afternoon, met the consultant with whom I was supposed to do the surgeries, and told him that I could not attend surgeries, because of these weird symptoms. He told me that he was also having some severe symptoms, but he thought it would be cured within a period and not an important thing to inform me.”- recollected Dr. Solomon.
When his collegue revealed about his own symptoms, Dr. Solomon had a vague idea about the source of infection, but he was not sure.
“I was taking antibiotics and my fever was not going down. This is not normal, I thought. I went back to the same room, locked myself in, and started doing google search on symptoms caused by CoronaVirus” – says Dr. Solomon.
He searched on the NHS website. “If you have fever along with cough, then you might be having corona virus”, this was the explanation he got from the website.
“I did not have a cough, so I thought my fever was not caused by coronavirus. I went into sleep again and woke up in the evening and felt something wrong in my chest. I went home, By the time I reached home, I didn’t feel right, slept on the sofa, woke up by 7PM and realised that I was definitely having a breathing problem”- explained Dr. Solomon the difficulties he had faced.
. Being a very health conscious person, doing exercises regularly, Dr. Solomon felt the breathlessness as something abnormal for him.
I go to the gym regularly, do not smoke, do not drink alcohol, and why am I having such symptoms, why am I having breathlessness? I felt that was something serious for me.” But he didn’t get an answer for his doubts.
At that point of time, in his hospital, a test to detect COVID-19 was done only to patients who were critically ill with serious symptoms.
Out of suspicion, Dr. Solomon continued google search regarding symptoms caused by corona virus, He could find a list of symptoms from a Chinese website, and it revealed that 40% of those infected with coronavirus had breathlessness. Next morning his breathlessness worsened. Without knowing what to do, he slept again, and the next day he started to have diarrhea. Whatever I was eating was coming out.” – he remembered the strenuous situation he had to face. He had medicines to control his symptoms, took rest and tried to eat as many fruits as he could.
Days passed by ,and luckily he was relieved from fever and other symptoms but was extremely weak. He believes in prayers and found solace by praying.
At the same time, many of his colleagues also had similar symptoms creating panic situations in the hospital. His department was shut down for two weeks.
While they resumed functioning, there was a fear in the atmosphere, and he could find that all of them were inquiring with each other anxiously about their family members, and many of them became ill multiple times with similar symptoms. By that period, COVID -19 had reached stage 2 across the UK.
The last session of this echo series held on 28th May 2020 from 6.30 to 7.30 has successfully incorporated the experience of healthcare professionals from different countries and physicians working in the field of Palliative Care in India, which exposed the hazardous situation in which the healthcare providers work and their commitment to offer service.
Dr. Sanghamitra Borah from Guwahati shared her experience of working as a team member to identify COVID-19 cases in Guwahati. She came into contact with a COVID confirmed patient during her work and had to be quarantined herself for 14 days.The loneliness, lack of communication, and the stigma in the society led her almost into a depression. She somehow passed the days, felt idle, couldn’t indulge in anything productive. She couldn’t even cook or eat properly.
Dr. Anuja Dhamani of Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai talked about her experience of undertaking the issue of accessibility of morphine and other pain-relieving medicines to patients during lock- down.
The session started with a brilliant talk by Dr. Eric. L. Krakauer, of Global Palliative Care Program and Associate Professor of Medicine, Global Health & Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Eric shared the key points in treating COVID-19 patients and providing Palliative Care during the pandemic.
Dr. Sushma Bhatnagar, President, IAPC stated that IAPC has developed a position statement on Palliative Care in COVID-19. “It has been a teamwork and we received valuable contributions from many. Thanks to all who have contributed to develop this”- said Dr. Sushma Bhatnagar. She also thanked all those worked to coordinate the echo series and said that it was a successful initiative.
Dr. Gayatri Palat, Program Coordinator of Echo Series on COVID-19 delivered vote of thanks to all the speakers of the sessions and those who have worked for the success of the program.
The session is available below.