– Tirod Ghimire, Dartford, UK
It was March 25th, as usual I was returning from work when suddenly my phone rang and it was one of my old pal, a local Nepalese grocery store owner ringing me after a long time and was asking me to shop groceries and stock it up and also inform me that there are some bags of rice he has kept for me to come and pick it up from his grocery store.
Without asking how you and family are? and all the formalities, he put down his phone and told me to come see him in the shop he owned. At my workplace, I have been advised by my colleagues to store groceries as the government was about to announce lockdown and the situation was chaotic and tense due to ongoing pandemic, the Covid19. Thinking all this in mind and the tense situation, I decided to go and shop at my friend’s shop in Plumstead. Once I reached his shop, there were people queuing outside his shop. I have never seen so many people queuing outside his shop before, except the day he inaugurated his shop, which was a couple of years back. Inside the shop, all his aisles were almost empty. People picking up the stuffs whatever they find useful, as normally me being Nepalese the food that we do not find at our local departmental store is kept in the local grocery store.
Seeing me, my old friend greeted me and took me in another room where he kept 2 bags of rice, some lentils and some spices. He was so busy that he told me to take my groceries and not tell that I got the stuffs because he was my friend and he had saved it for me. He also sent me a helper to load the groceries in my car and to pay later as he had a massive queue at his tills. I thanked him for being so generous at the time of need and left the shop after 15 minutes.
On March 26th, I went to work as normal. After work, came home and did my cooking as normal as my wife had gone to Nepal and it has been a month, she was at Nepal to take care of her dad who was not well and was admitted in Hospital in ICU. So, at home, it was me and my 13-year-old daughter. We were due to fly on April 6th to join my wife in Nepal. We had our dinner and went to bed. That night, I woke up suddenly at 2 am with mild headache. Later the headache, was getting slowly worse and worse. I called my workplace at 3 am and inform that I will not be coming to work and will inform during the day about the outcome once I see my GP.
In the morning on 27th March, the headache had resolved, and I did not bother to call my GP. Whole day I was perfectly fine. Since I was at home, I decided to do cleaning of the house and also my laundry. My daughter’s school was closed due to the covid19 outbreak, so she was at home. My work being a frontline work, had to go Monday to Friday to work. That day in the evening after I had my dinner, I started developing headaches and feeling of coldness throughout my body. The coldness was like you feel goose bumps when you try to switch your position during the sleep in the bed. So whole night, I was struggling to sleep as I had mild headache and coldness throughout my body.
On March 28th, I called my GP. Hearing my symptoms, he advised it could be urinary tract infection or mild covid19. I told my GP that I do not have any flu, chest pain, shortness of breath or cough but only headache and rigour as I have heard that if you are infected by covid19 you should be having flu or cough. My GP upon hearing this advised that since this covid19 is a new disease, they are not sure about the symptoms and the symptoms do vary depending upon person to person’s immunity and the symptoms they know are from the person who have already been infected by covid19. He also said that having fever and chills at night could be malaria but since I am up-to-date with immunisation and have not been outside the country for 2 years, it is unlikely. He then finally concluded that I do a blood test to find out if I do have any UTI. If my test comes positive, he will prescribe me UTI medication and if my test comes negative, then it is mild covid19. GP advised me to stay in self isolation and will call me once the blood test results are back. He also advised me to take paracetamol if I have any fever and to take vitamin C 1000 mg on a daily basis. That night, I developed fever up to 99-100 degrees Fahrenheit. I still had headache and chills. I took paracetamol 500 mg and it seemed to help for couple of hours but once paracetamol effect would last, I start feeling chills and rigour again. I had to take paracetamol every 4 hours during night to ease myself from fever and headache accompanied by chills.
By 2nd of April, I got my result of blood test and it was negative for UTI. Now it was confirmed that I had mild symptoms of covid19. GP did not send me to do swab test as it was not available and I had fever and headache which I could manage by myself at home. GP suggested if my symptoms worsen or develop any shortness of breath or chest pain, to call 999 or 111 and go to A&E ASAP. By this time, my symptoms increased to headache and chills during the daytime as well. My chills would go after half an hour of taking paracetamol. My body would feel as if I am near a fire and would start sweating profusely after I had paracetamol. After 2-3 hours of consuming paracetamol, my body start to feel cold and again the fever and headaches start to develop. In this manner, whole night I could not even sleep.
I had dropped my daughter to my in-law’s house as the GP said I need to isolate myself on 28 March. Now, I was alone at my home and had to take care of myself. I started to cook when I feel ok, it would be in the morning after taking my paracetamol. I would cook a bit more so that I would eat the food in the evening as well. I would watch Nepal idol to entertain myself during the day and avoid any phone calls or news. I would make Kada (mixture of herbs) and drink it x 3 throughout the day with x 3 steam followed shortly after drinking Kada. I took paracetamol 500 mg every 3-4 hours 24 hours a day. In this way, my symptoms were on and off after taking paracetamol till April 10th, when I started developing mild chest pain.
I had the opportunity to share my symptoms with my community friends who would pick the call straight away or would call me back once they saw my miss call. My community friends and family members would do my shopping and leave it Infront of my house door. I do express my sincere thank you to my family members and my community friends who were there when I need them most.
So, after developing mild chest pain on the 10th April, at 2 am I called 111. I waited for an hour and one of the nurses attended my call. I narrated her my up-to-date history from the symptoms beginning and the stage where I was now. She immediately escalated my call to the doctors at the urgent care centre. The doctor asked me about my symptoms and after hearing from me, he asked me if I can manage my symptoms alone. If I can do that then he would prescribe me antibiotics if not, he will send an ambulance to take me to the A&E as till then my symptoms were still the same, on top of it I had mild chest pain that night. I had loss of appetite and loss of sensation. One thought would come in my mind and say to myself go to A&E and be admit in the hospital another thoughts would not allow me to go to A&E as I had negative impression about going to A&E so I said to the doctor that I will take antibiotics. As it had been 10 days, doctor prescribed me antibiotics Amoxicillin 500 mg to be taken x 3 per day for 5 days. He also said if my symptoms worsen to call 999 or go to A&E immediately.
On 11th April, I started taking antibiotics. On the very day I started having diarrhoea which I was made aware by the doctors that it is a side effect of the antibiotics and not to worry. By 12 April evening, my headache was a bit better but still had fever and chills and diarrhoea. On 13th, I called my GP and told about the symptoms that I was still having. The GP then said it will take 36-48 hours for the antibiotics to take effect and not to worry about diarrhoea as it is the side effects of antibiotics. I had diarrhoea since I started the antibiotics so I decided to take ‘Diorlyte’ so that I can back up my lost phosphorus level, salt and minerals level in the body which I had lost through diarrhoea. In this way on the 14th April, my fever and chills had weaned off. I continue to take paracetamol to be on the safe side, but the dose was one 500 mg tab morning and one at night. On 15th April, after the final antibiotics tablet, I stopped paracetamol and was feeling okay and without symptoms. My diarrhoea stopped on the 16th. I was weak without any sense of taste or smell. I was happy that all the symptoms faded away and these symptoms of weakness and senselessness will gradually go off as well.
The main experience I got from this illness is to not lose hope, eat healthy, avoid any alcohol or meat products. Do exercise if you are able to, drink plenty of Lukewarm water, drink the herbs mixture (Kada) x 3 throughout the day and take steam x 3 after drinking the herbs mixture (Kada). Eat your normal food/diet, fruits during the day, also you can add vitamin C as supplement to be taken 1000 mg tablet once a day.
I hope and pray that this pandemic Covid-19 terror will end soon and I wish we will have the vaccine soon so that we can save our loved ones.
Lastly, heartily thanks to Dartford Nepalese community team, Prakash Thapa; Dartford Nepalese Community Nursing team; Sunita madam and Sarada madam. Family members and friends; Dinesh Ghimire, Bidur Ghimire and Shakti Ghimire. Babu Ram Sharma, Parvati Sharma, Sujan Parajuli, Dibyani Parajuli, Bishnu Gautam and Deepak Thapa. Bipin Niraula to encourage to write and publish my small effort about covid19. Wife and Daughter; Maina Sharma and Vinayeeka Ghimire.