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Back after a long break

I don’t even remember when exactly I posted last. The dashboard shows some date at the end of April last year, but many of my posts were scheduled so probably early April?

April. The start of one of the most challenging months in my life. As the delta Covid19 strain started ravaging India, no one was left untouched. One by one, I got calls from family members in Delhi and elsewhere as one by one, they got infected, ill. Then the calls multiplied as panic overwhelmed the nation, a call for arranging an oxygen cylinder, another for arranging a ventilator, another for arranging a hospital bed…uncounted friends, acquaintances, “enemies” who hadn’t bothered whether I lived or died would call me out of the blue asking for these, or for some medicine which was suddenly out of stock since everyone thought it was the magic cure for what was an untreatable disease. Every day I saw the graph rise sharply: hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands, there seemed to be no end in sight. Being a doctor, even if not practicing anymore, I was a natural port of hope for many who might not know anyone else in the medical profession. And for the extended family, there was no one else. I took weeks off from work so I could manage everyone remotely, handling symptoms and therapies, trying to arrange what I could from afar.

There were so many people who I couldn’t help even a bit, since there was nothing available. Not respirators, not oxygen cylinders, not ventilators, not beds, not tocilizumab, not Remdesivir, not even the ubiquitous steroids you could buy without a prescription at any pharmacy. People would answer a call by saying, “Please don’t ask for a bed or a ventilator.” instead of saying “hello”. There was complete fatigue of humanity, of compassion, of pity. My closest friends would tell me to ask for an oxygen cylinder when I needed it since that favor was not available in unlimited supply.

At the end of April, my parents living in complete isolation in Delhi got infected. With my other being a cancer survivor and a diabetic and my father hypertensive and asthmatic, I knew the risks. And I had told them of the same repeatedly. And they had taken all possible precautions, to an extent that even I thought excessive. Yet, there it was, pervading the very air in Delhi like winter smog. Using all the contacts and favors I had, I managed to get them started on the best therapy (at the time), and was able to manage everything they might need, including those rarest of commodities: oxygen cylinders and a concentrator, thanks to some of my dearest friends. With all that I hoped they would …

No idea how long this has stayed in my drafts. My father died of COVID in May 2021, despite the availability of the best medical care, which we were able to arrange; from Remdesivir to bi-PAP to ventilator. I started this post to narrate my experiences of that surreal time but I don’t think I have processed all that happened well enough to be able to talk about it at length. The desperation, the calls, the despair, the utter helplessness, the frustration, and the anger…I guess I need more time to internalize those; even a year is not enough.

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About hbhatnagar

I need to fill this up with much better content than I had populated it with earlier. Why I write a blog maybe? I started blogging in 2009 or thereabouts. I was a newly turned atheist and wanted to converse with others of the same persuasion. We're not exactly a big population group in India! It didn't go very well and I sort of lost interest, posting a few things now and then. I got a lot more regular over the last few months and have been posting almost daily since February '15. There were many reasons why I gradually became more regular in posting, but one way or the other, here I am! So this blog has taken shape, being at different points in time my showcase, my comedy club, my art gallery, my book club, my therapist, my close friend, my innermost self....but always my little corner of the world. You are all welcome to visit and I hope you stay awhile! A few points about me because I don't want to lead anyone on(and trust me this does become an issue more often than I'd care to admit). I'm Indian, the brown-skinned variety; if race, ethnicity or skin colour is an issue, you don't have to get to know me any more than what you see on my blog. I'm 40, so if age is an issue, please be informed accordingly. I was a doctor, an ophthalmic surgeon for 10 years before I quit practice.

Discussion

17 thoughts on “Back after a long break

  1. I hope you have no eye problem now. Navratri aur Durgapuja ki hardik shubhkamnayen. Best wishes.

    Like

    Posted by Indira | 01/10/2022, 12:55 PM
  2. It was awful hearing about how the pandemic impacted India, and seeing the queues for oxygen. Very sorry to hear about your father, and I hope your mother is coping. I take it you thankfully managed to avoid it.

    Like

    Posted by Mick Canning | 19/09/2022, 8:17 PM
  3. Sorry to hear about your father’s passing from Covid. My dad had it too, but he was one of the lucky ones. He was asymptomatic and didn’t suffer, and it passed fairly quickly compared to many. I don’t know if you remember me, but there for a while, we were actively blogging.

    Like

    Posted by Tessa | 29/08/2022, 8:03 PM
  4. After a long time…Anyway welcome back. Sorry to hear about your father. My heartfelt condolences. I can relate a bit as my husband was positive ( slightly)after all the precautions. No bed available, not even to give saline as was collapsing due to low sodium . Somehow got someone to come home and give him medication. And how he looted, that’s another story. Thankfully you were able to help some. Kudos to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Indira | 10/07/2022, 9:16 AM
  5. Sorry for your lost ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Obong eno | 05/07/2022, 6:44 AM
  6. Sending you loads of strength . Your mum and you have been in my thoughts and prayers all through May .

    Like

    Posted by thatmishmash | 15/06/2022, 9:54 PM
  7. So sorry to hear that. It was a bad time for many of us. Even when we didn’t lose someone in the immediate family, there were so many people we lost.

    Glad you are back and writing

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by I. J. Khanewala | 12/06/2022, 5:04 PM
  8. I’m so sorry for your loss and all that trauma that you, your friends, family and nation endured.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by 10000hoursleft | 12/06/2022, 4:41 PM
  9. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’d read about how terrible VOVID was in India and how difficult to get proper treatment. It’s devastating.

    And it’s so hard to lose a parent! They are so close to our identities and earliest memories. May you find warm comfort from your friend and family.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Q | 12/06/2022, 2:41 PM
  10. My heart goes out to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by The Cheesesellers Wife | 12/06/2022, 1:18 PM
  11. Dr Hb, Heart broken to read about what you have gone through… I’m saddened to hear about your father.
    I understand it’s difficult to write tour experience. Thank you for making such an effort to let us know. I read about the situation in India and have been wondered about you and your family the entire time and whenever I’m on the blogosphere. It will take time… do take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Amy | 12/06/2022, 3:55 AM

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