• Ashmy Ranjana Johns

My Covid Nightmare


by ASHMY RANJANA JOHNS


FLASHING lights, lying on a hospital trolley rushing through a corridor, doctors screaming and not being able to breathe. Not exactly the memories an international student would want who had come to her dream country to start a new and exciting life. But these haunting memories are the first things that come to my mind when someone mentions my life in London.


Being an avid reader, I was always fascinated by England. The land of William Shakespeare and JK Rowling. The land of Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter

I have always dreamt of seeing Big Ben, the London Eye, Hyde Park, museums and so much more. The land of the most famous royal family and the once majestic empire. So, it was with big dreams and high hopes that I joined Brunel University and arrived in London in February.

Life was good. I settled into my new accommodation, attended classes, made lots of friends and enjoyed my freedom.

Even though Covid was a threat I took steps to stay safe, took all necessary precautions even when I went outside to buy anything necessary, hang out with my friends or when I went to visit some of those things in my bucket list. I was not even feeling homesick. But all it took was one moment of carelessness for all of it go downhill.

The UK government had clearly stated that anyone travelling from abroad into that country had to go into quarantine for ten days before they are allowed to go outside or meet anyone. This rule was set to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Everybody travelling was made aware of it as they could be carriers even if they don’t catch Covid themselves. Therefore, it was because of a bunch of careless people and negligence on my part that I was afflicted with the virus.

When some of my friends started showing symptoms, I started to take care of them as we got quarantined and our families were not there to take care of us. I was so involved in getting them healthy again that I neglected my own well-being. By the time they got better my first symptoms had come up. I ended up having very high fever but I did not bother much about it because I was not feeling tired. I had no other symptoms and I thought this was just my body fighting against the virus. I decided to just have a tablet and go to sleep. It was a big mistake.

Two other friends of mine, who had gotten better, had decided to take care of me.

Therefore, the next morning, they came to check on me which is when they found that I was lying in bed, not being able to move much and was having trouble breathing. With the help of a pulse oximeter that they had they found out that my oxygen saturation had dropped to 77. A normal human being should have an oxygen saturation of 95. They immediately got worried and contacted my mother, another doctor they knew and the NHS. They immediately arrived with an ambulance, checked my vitals and whisked me away as I needed to be hospitalized as soon as possible. I was still in my senses till that point for I remember barely walking towards the ambulance, being seated and taken to Hillingdon Hospital.

I was admitted and subjected to nasal swabs, having an oxygen mask put on my face, blood being drawn out and so on. I thought that was all I would have to endure and went to sleep. The hospital staff periodically came to check my vitals and my blood pressure which for some reason kept dropping even though I was being given oxygen.

My oxygen saturation level dropped dramatically so much that by early morning it had fallen to 44. It was at this point that I was taken out of my room, strapped down to a trolley and rushed towards the intensive care unit. I have vague memories of people shouting around me, calling on emergency response teams and trying to take an MRI scan. But because of my high fever I couldn’t stop shivering and they were unable to take a scan. I remember the doctor telling me that if they did not put me into a ventilator then and there that I would not survive the night. I was terrified.

They asked me if I had a local guardian and that’s when I first realised that I had no one in my family near me. If I was just terrified before now I was petrified. The doctors were so considerate that they understood that I was Indian, a Malayalee and therefore somehow managed to find a Malayali doctor so that I would be more comfortable with the idea of being put into ventilator. In between heaving breaths, I manage to tell him that I was a Brunel student, my identity card was in my bag and my mother’s phone number was there and I asked them to contact her.

My mother already knew I was in hospital but she did not realise the intense condition my health was in. When she heard from the doctors that I had to be put on a ventilator I could hear her voice cracking behind the video call. I wanted to tell her that it was all going to be okay but I couldn’t manage to even lift a finger. In between the video call, she managed to contact my dad and my sister and I could hear all of them crying and I couldn’t help any of them calm down - and that was what worried me the most when I was fighting for my life. My sister’s tears where the final straw and that’s when I decided I would fight. Nothing makes my sister cry.

The doctors told me that I was to be put into an induced coma because they needed to pump in large amounts of oxygen into my body so that it gets saturated enough. They further explained that I would be unconscious for four days and I would be really tired when I woke up but it was for the best.

The last things I remember before falling into unconsciousness was being fitted with a mask that looked like a Power Rangers headdress and being injected with some medicine while they were trying to put a tube through my right palm to get my blood. As I slipped out of consciousness, the nurses said that the last thing I said was, “For my sister”.

I never realised I was out for four days and I had very weird and confusing dreams while I was in my state of unconsciousness.

I finally woke up to find myself covered in tubes, needles and wires. I looked like an android that had been left for charging. The next thing I saw was the face of a man who was apparently one of the administrators of the hospital. He had come to ask me why the hospital was getting phone calls enquiring about me from all over the world. If I were in my senses I would have probably replied how would I know I was lying here unconscious. But I gave his statement a moment of thought and I was trying to figure out who would call me or enquire about me from all over the world.

So I start connecting the dots and I realised obviously I would get calls from London because my friends and my teachers are there, and I realised I would get calls from India because my parents and the rest of my family are there. I realised that would get a call from the Philippines because my sister is there.

I realised that I would get calls from Canada because my cousins are there. So, I asked them if these are the places and they agreed but when they said I got a call from China I was wondering who from China would enquire about me. It was later on that my father said that apparently I have a relative working in the Chinese embassy and I was alarmed. I was alarmed because that’s when I realised I had so many people in my life - and I had been scared about having no family near me for nothing because all these people who care about me had tried to contact me on those four days.

The doctors came in later that day and said that I had recovered quite quickly, my body was responding to the medicines and that I would be shifted to my room very soon. I was still connected to a few tubes and wires to monitor my blood, inject me with food and other medicines. It took me another two days to be able to sit up on my own and to have some use of my hands and legs.

At this point I acquired my mobile phone and I saw the multitude of messages and calls that were left on it from all these people, my friends and my family. I started responding back to them slowly. I even called a few them, had video calls with my parents, sister and cousins, which were quite funny because the first thing all these people wanted to do was yell at me for being careless before inquiring if I was feeling better or not. Their anger was valid anyway. I spoke with my teachers and my friends in London.

It took me two days to regain the strength to sit up on my own and to have some use of my hands and legs. At this point I acquired my mobile phone and I saw the multitude of messages and calls that were left on it from all these people, my friends and my family. I started responding back to them slowly. I even called a few them, had video calls with my parents, sister and cousins, which were quite funny because the first thing all these people wanted to do was yell at me for being careless before inquiring if I was feeling better or not. Their concern was valid anyway. I also spoke with my teachers and my friends in London.

My family decided to bring me back to India so that they could take care of me and restore my health.

I travelled back to India in the middle of May. I am still undergoing post-Covid treatment and treating other ailments that showed up as my immunity was shot.

I came back from London within three months and all those hopes and dreams, all those places that I wanted to see, left it all behind and that kept eating me inside.

Once I feel better, I want come back to London. I hope that will be accomplished soon.


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