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  • Writer's pictureAleesha Joykutty

Last day of duty at a COVID CARE CENTER - A Diary Entry

Today was our last day of duty at the Covid Care Center (CCC). We decided to eat dosa as we had gotten bored of the upma usually served as breakfast at the CCC. Armed with our surgery scrubs, water bottles, chargers, and headphones packed in a bag we reached the CCC. Time passed quickly as we examined patients in all the 18 CCC rooms. The time post-lunch was spent in bidding goodbye to all the patients who entertained us with their amusing characters and behavior in the past week. By this time I could remember rooms, names and stories of each and every patient and the last interaction with all of them will always be locked in my memory as follows.

Room Number 8

Gujar Ajoba (meaning grandfather in Marathi), the most lively person despite his age, was a little down today. He had made a group of friends on the first day of admission itself and chatted with them endlessly. He used to compare the number of Surya Namaskars (a sequence in Yoga) that he was able to perform with the numbers acclaimed Yogis could achieve. They can do 1200 but I can do only 11, Doctor, he used to say. He would insist on comparing the manually measured BP with the digital sphygmomanometer. His room was the most lively room, always spreading positive vibes throughout the CCC. His roommates, the Joshis (Madhukar, Santosh, and Balnath), repeatedly laughingly told us to give him pills that would keep his mouth shut because of his doubts and garrulous nature. Gujar Ajoba would often tease the fit muscular physique of Santosh Joshi, who used to go to the talim (wrestling ground) in childhood. He would say, “Kai masst haathichi body ahe tumche!!(What an elephant-sized body you have!!)'' and laugh. Joshi retaliated with, " Ajoba ko neend ka goli do re (someone give him a sedative)". To this Gujar replied, “Thodech diwas rahile majhe pruthvivar, tumhilokana ajun kami karaychet ka! (I already have little time left to spend on this planet and now you all want to reduce it even more?)".

Room Number 7

This room had a mix of habitants. First was a 17 year old NDA (National Defense Academy) aspirant. He had wanted a negative COVID RT-PCR report to be able to appear for his offline NDA entrance exams but ended up contracting COVID and missed the exams altogether. Then there was Saptashwa who had an accident involving the hand that had left him with 3 fingers on one hand. His mother was always worried about him. One day, he gave his phone to my batchmate to allay his mother's concerns. His mother was not convinced and questioned “Doctor tumhi khote bolto ka”. (Doctor are you lying?). And lastly, there was Kulkarni, who insisted on calling the female doctors 'sister'.

Room Number 9

This room had the Koli family from Pune. Their dad was shifted to a private hospital ICU due to severe COVID. With the news of the Class 10 exams getting cancelled for the year Sneha had forgotten all her complaints. Yet, she refused to eat as she was perpetually bothered by the smell of the Kadhaa (an Ayurvedic medicine). ‘At least you can still smell and taste, some can’t even sense that’, we would jokingly pacify her.

Room Number 11

Room number 11 had all female patients. Mangeshkar Aaji was on an oxygen concentrator on our 1st day. We had thought she may be shifted to a private hospital soon, but she had fought back bravely. When we bid her goodbye today, she spoke of her relatives staying in Kolhapur city to whom we can reach out if we needed any help. Prabha Aunty had gotten herself vaccinated, but she had unfortunately already contracted COVID. She was one of the milder cases, but deteriorated rapidly. Today, we were told that she had been shifted to the ICU. This was not surprising, as she couldn’t even drink water properly yesterday; but it upset us nevertheless. For Mangeshkar and Prabha, COVID progressed exactly opposite of how we had predicted. COVID, not unlike life, was full of surprises.

Room Number 12

Room number 12 had the Ghatges. All were initially stable. But as time passed, Pranav and Rupali started getting panic attacks and were eventually put on oxygen. Anamika, the youngest COVID patient, we believe was also an aspiring doctor. Whenever she saw us, she wanted to touch our sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. A senior doctor even gifted her a toy after he found her irresistibly cute.

Room Number 14

Room number 14 has the Tendulkar family. Mr and Mrs Tendulkar had different rooms but they insisted on staying together. Mrs Tendulkar claimed that her previous roommate suffered from constipation which was cured when she went to live with her husband. Mrs Tendulkar did not want to take any such chances.

Room Number 15

Room number 15 had the Thakurs. Avinash, their 8 year-old son, would never wear his mask. Instead, he would cup his mouth with his hands when we visited him. Mrs Thakur was 47 years old and had had a hysterectomy in the past. She was afraid and confused whether the covid medicines would affect her differently. She believed that hysterectomy patients experience acidity and hence wanted antacids at once. Earlier in this room was Mr Bichitkar, who was nicknamed 'the nomad'. He found complaints with every room and we were tired of the paperwork of shifting him. His reasons for rejecting rooms ranged from 'The fan is not enough' to 'I might disturb the others in the room, best put me alone'.

Room Number 16

Room number 16 had the Pindurkar couple. Mr Pindurkar was anxious since the very first day of admission. So much so, that the psychotherapist had to intervene. We tried to rekindle his hopes of recovering from COVID and encouraged him to watch movies, talk to others and keep himself busy. We would jokingly say that should we contract COVID, we would love to get admitted to this CCC, what with its comfortable stay, clean lodging and nutritious food. This made him feel better, he claimed.

For us the hospital was not just a monument of sadness. The patients being milder cases, definitely aided that. Every person coming into these premises had a sword hanging over them which could fall with the slightest carelessness. Everyone worked in unison and with each passing day, the situation kept getting better as many patients got discharged. The number of beds, supply of oxygen was adequate in comparison to the patients admitted. Day by day the number of deaths were increasing, as were the positive cases. But here, at CCC, COVID cases were discussed less. Instead, we discussed and screened motivational movies. By the end, many volunteer doctors were infected and hospitalised. But we were ready for that, this was the part we played in the pandemic. This 10-day long volunteering experience will always hold a special place in my heart and all the patients behind these names will never be forgotten.

*names have been changed to protect identity

About the Author-

Aleesha Joykutty is a 3rd-year MBBS student at GMC Kolhapur, Maharashtra. She volunteered for COVID duty while she was in her 2nd year at Agrasen Bhavan Ichalkaranji under Sevankur NGO


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