Posted on February 18 , 2021
Lessons from COVID-19 - Part 2
During those two days that I was bedridden in room 238 of Hospital 15 wondering if I was going to live or die, as I described in my Februry 1st blog, a lot went through my mind. Generally, I would not consider 48 hours to be a long time, but in a certain context it’s an eternity. My mind ran the gamut from self-reflection to self-destruction and back again. I am not entirely sure how much of it was accurate nor am I sure if I recall it exactly. But it matters not, as it is the lessons that those thoughts and feelings have inspired and rediscovered that have value. Today I’ll discuss what occurred to me as I turned the corner on recovery and came out of my stupor, and how I’ll try to keep it in my mind solving problems in the future.
Lesson #4 -- I learnt that the most underappreciated healing power comes from within yourself, and from your relationships built with family and friends. Health care is undeniably necessary, but is more often than we realize a lens to focus our internal and largely invisible faculties.
When I was diagnosed with COVID and admitted to hospital, I was told that the virus had gotten into my lungs and already done damage to 25% of my tissue. I was put on a regular drip morning and night as the doctors explored new therapies including antibody plasma infusions from COVID survivors. That initial period was excruciating. I didn’t know what the treatment was. Of course the logical part of my brain trusted the doctors, but a more primitive side was simultaneously terrified: the stakes being so high; the medical professionals obscured by both masks and a language barrier; and even now the idea of getting someone else’s blood in my body is a little unsettling. Nevertheless, I happen to be fortunate enough to have doctors in my family accessible via WhatsApp and who could settle my anxieties. Plasma it turns out is ultimately just a clear liquid, not dissimilar to the drips I was already getting. Based on their advice and (the logical part of my brain once it regained some confidence) I decided to give the go-ahead for the transfusion. On the fifth day of my stay in the hospital, I began to feel better and asked the doctors whether the plasma worked. They told me that actually they did not give me the plasma after all. I did not understand. They explained while the virus attacks our respiratory systems and lungs, what can often be more tangibly harmful is our own immune systems. When we get infected our defenses kick into high-gear and try to fight this virus. But as this virus is novel and unrecognized, our immune systems begin recklessly and desperately to scour the surrounding tissues. In short, it was my own immune system which damaged my lungs, stimulated by the presence of COVID. The level of attack by the immune system is called the IL6 level. So the drip I was getting was to reduce the IL6 levels and let my immune system concentrate on the virus and not the surrounding areas. Thus my own immune system actually cured me, the doctors, their medicines, and the support from my family, helping to guide my immune system while it was lost.
Thank you again for reading. More lessons to come.
Posted on January 25 , 2021
Lessons From COVID-19
The number ‘238’ written in Russian -- as seen in the top left hand corner of this document -- may not mean much to most people, but to me it is an...Read More
Posted on March 06 , 2021
Lessons from COVID-19 Part 3
Thank you to all the people who have sent me their good wishes following my Februry 1st and subsequent blogs, which further reaffirms the...Read More