Personal Lessons from Surviving COVID-19
Marcom professionals, who have been COVID+, or have been personally affected by it, share their experiences and advice that may be life-saving at this time of the century’s worst national health emergency...
The devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has been on a killing rampage across India. The preceding few weeks has seen a steady increase in active cases with daily deaths crossing 3.5K – breaking all previous national and international records.
Just a couple of months back, the COVID+ rate in Delhi was below 1% and there were zero deaths for the first time in 10 months. Today, as I write this, Delhi reported more than 400 deaths, its highest one-day fatality figure while the national recovery rate dropped to less than 82%.
By now, if you have not lost someone you personally knew, if not a near or dear one to COVID, you may be lucky. Sadly, I have now lost count of the friends and colleagues or their immediate family members who succumbed to the virus within the last two weeks. As my former colleague Deep Ghatak, Communication Director at BNY Mellon, says, “Everyone alive should be just grateful.”
When in the first wave, IABC Fellow and veteran communications professional Bish Mukherjee ABC and his wife Nalini tested positive it was not considered as fatal as it is turning out to be today and he never thought he would lose his wife in less than two weeks. Both Bish and Nalini were hospitalized and on oxygen for weeks and ultimately Nalini’s condition worsened. “I went to see her in the ICU with the oxygen cylinder being wheeled behind me by the nurse. I was in tears. Within minutes of my seeing her, she breathed her last,” Bish looks back. “During the period in hospital, I realized how helpless a person can be in such situations and how close one can come to death. It was the most horrendous episode in my life. I had never been admitted to any hospital ever before,” he says.
“COVID is a satanic attack on mankind,” says Sushmita Bandopadhyay, Communications Leader, BD- India & South Asia, who had to be hospitalized along with her son with severe infection. For those of you who are doing good as of now, her advice: “Mask up, watch out for symptoms and stock up your home with essentials such as oximeter, thermometer, inhalers, etc., to avoid last minute rush. Seek only medical advice and not public opinion to manage this disease. Don’t let fear grip your mind if you’re tested positive."
If you’ve tested positive and need to isolate yourself at home, you need to be absolutely disciplined to see yourself through. Vishal Mehta, APAC Marketing Director at MONCH Group shares, “After initial recovery of high fever and infection for around 5-6 days, I have been trying to have discipline daily routine taking medicines and other precautions regularly in self quarantine at home. Communicating regularly with family, friends and business colleagues globally has been very motivating, key to survival.”
Marcom Associate Director at Knight Frank India, Piyali Dasgupta, SCMP shares a similar experience with her home quarantine, “COVID-19 is physically and mentally challenging. Luckily, I recovered with just home isolation and mild medication. Through it, I kept busy with work, reading, and television. Importantly, I used the time to check on friends and family. I advise all to please stay safe indoors and consult doctors if you feel ilI.”
Vishal has also been volunteering for 2 hours (07:00 AM to 09:00 AM) for COVID helpline ffor a non-profit or NGO called Seva Bharti to connect blood plasma requirements for COVID patients. “Sharing my COVID recovery experience especially with COVID+ patients have not only been helpful but has also encouraged them to recover faster,” says Vishal
Jyoti Khan, Board member at IABC Asia Pacific and member of the Forbes Communications Council, saw this pandemic from close quarters for most of the last 12 months and spent 10 days in the hospital after having tested COVID+. “I have lost some of my loved ones to it, seen family members recover and more recently went through it myself. In my experience, it is as much a test of physical strength as it is of mental resilience. So, stay safe and stay strong,” says Jyoti.
For Faezal Yunus, DGM of Content Marketing at HCL Technologies, who lost his uncle to COVID this Sunday morning, the pandemic is witnessing a shockingly despicable collapse of human values. However, he has developed a newfound respect for the frontline medical and nursing staff: “I realized how well they were managing the odds despite the makeshift arrangements, maintaining a steady supply of oxygen, which is what matters the most at this juncture,” says Faezal.
Namita Soni Gagneja, who heads Brand & Marketing Communications at Tata Communications Payment Solutions saw her better half down with the virus. Just as she played the vital role of a caregiver and went through the ups and down, she thinks everyone has a part to play in the nation’s fight against COVID-19: “We need to collectively have the vision, wisdom and compassion and address this pandemic with heightened mindfulness. Each one of us can make a positive impact through small acts of kindness and compassion. In these, testing times let humanity stand tall and strong to overpower the ire of this pandemic. Let us win together by having each other’s back.”
Bish Mukherjee says that since there is no guaranteed cure for COVID-19, “what we can best do is to minimize our risks to the maximum. So here is what we need to do:
- Take our COVID jabs as soon as we can
- Proactively get our drivers, maids and cooks vaccinated at the earliest
- Wear our masks whenever we meet anyone, be it a visitor or a delivery guy
- Please postpone all your face-to-face interactions; and no going out until the severity of the situation normalizes
There are countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Israel, where they don’t need to wear masks anymore. They are COVID free. It is high time we emulated their examples. Take care and stay well.”
This article by me was first published in The Reputation Today magazine. Read it here: bit.ly/COVIDsurvivors