Volunteer from Nur-Sultan tells how she beat coronavirus
25-year-old Dilyara, who have survived and recovered from coronavirus, thinks that everything that happened to her recently was a pure nightmare – a positive coronavirus test result, ambulance, hospital and fear for the person who matters the most in her life.
March 2020 – the World Health Organization announces the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Dilyara, who decided not to stay away from the global problem, becomes a volunteer at a hospital, where she served as a doctor-intern. One day, staying at home, she received a call from the Sanitary and Epidemiological Service, which started it all.
“You probably know why we are calling you, don’t you?” said the person on the phone.
“Yes,” replied Dilayra and then her heart began beating faster.
“Recently you were tested for coronavirus – and you tested positive.”
“Well, thanks, I’ve already got it!”
“An ambulance will arrive within an hour. Start packing your bag!”
“Alright.” (I just couldn’t utter anything else at that moment - I only heard my heart beating. I realized that my ears felt plugged up).
Then there were questions:
“Who do you live with?”
“With my mom.” (There was only one thought in my head – why did I volunteer? Why did I put my mother in danger? She is in the risk group. My mom is 62 years old and she has many chronic diseases).
“There were other calls after this one. I can’t remember who said what, everything was kind of a blur. My mom heard the whole conversation. She already knew what we should do,” Dilyara recalls.
They packed their things and started waiting for the ambulance. Within only an hour, Dilyara and her mom were all set for the trip to the hospital. The ambulance arrived as promised. The paramedic was wearing a special protective medical suit. After asking the two women some necessary questions, the paramedic said that Dilyara will be taken to a tuberculosis clinic. Dilyara’s mom had to wait for another ambulance. Thus, two people were separated for the long three weeks.
18 days of eternity: the treatment period
According to Dilyara, she was taken to a TB dispensary, which is located at the very edge of the city. Doctors said that the treatment would last for 14 day, but it lasted 18 days.
“If only you knew how hard it was. In ordinary life, when you are active, four days can go by very fast, but here every day is the same, the so called Groundhog Day. The interview readers would probably argue and say that now the whole world is in the same conditions and living in self-isolation, but it was much harder at the hospital. A confined space, strangers – you are constantly in anticipation that on fifth or sixth day you might begin to cough, choke and perhaps will never leave the hospital again,” says Dilyara.
She says that the treatment was pretty monotonous. It consisted of a daily thermometry and taking a medication that is used in the treatment of HIV-1. Moreover, it was the medication that led to adverse reactions. Her state of mind were rapidly changing from feeling herself down and depressed to feeling uplifted.
“When I read about the side effects of that drug, I was in a little shock. Earlier I’ve never taken such medications and I’ve never in my live been hospitalized before. I took two tablets two times a day, one after breakfast and another one right after dinner. It caused many side effects, including a breakdown in my digestion, nausea, an increased appetite, and diarrhea, as well as soreness in the left abdominal flank, headaches, drowsiness and anxiety. Then I was prescribed a drug to maintain the functional activity of the pancreas in order to stop nausea and soreness in the left abdominal flank,” Dilyara shares.
She admits that she didn’t show any symptoms of the coronavirus disease first, so she had no idea that she was sick. Dilyara thought she was absolutely healthy. However, her body showed certain signs long before she tested positive for coronavirus.
“I lost my sense of smell. I began distinguishing between different scents very poorly. I remember it seemed strange to me, because I am a fan of interesting combinations of various smells. After my night shift at the hospital, I came home, had some breakfast and began noticing that it became difficult for me to just talk as if my voice became husky and hoarse. I felt a slight malaise. I tried to fall asleep. After waking up, my voice became even worse. I started to feel panicky. And then, as you already know, I received that call from the Sanitary and Epidemiological Service..,” Dilyara recalls.
In total, there were 18 people who were infected with COVID-19 along with Dilyara in that hospital where she was a volunteer. No one can say for sure who started the spread of the infection among them. However, the fact remains that all of them were placed in quarantine in a medical facility. Dilyara recalls that each of them asked ‘Why me?’
Reaction of friends and family
The events of the last month showed that many Kazakh citizens have an aggressive reaction to the patients infected with coronavirus. Social media is full of emotional and predominantly negative comments under the posts about the infected people. Therefore, Dilyara didn’t know what to expect after she found out about her diagnosis. Luckily, her family and friends showed Dilyara a massive support.
“Melancholy descended over me. I didn’t want to tell anything even to the closest people, because I didn’t want to transmit… my bad mood. (The word ‘transmit’ sounded quite ambiguous in this context). I can tell I am a positive person, who tries to see something useful and optimistic in every situation. It is experience what matters to me. I got very lucky with people who surround me – they are kind and helpful! I am grateful for each word of support and every phone call they made. I thank them for all the kind deeds they’ve done to me during my hospitalization. Being isolated in a medical facility, I felt like I matter and that I was not living a meaningless life in this world because I received so much support from so many people. I didn’t expect that. Probably, there are not enough words to express all my appreciation and gratitude. Now I am getting teary..,” Dilyara says emotionally.
Now, as she got over an illness, Dilyara recommends to all of the Kazakh citizens to be more informed, responsible and prudent. People should realize that the coronavirus is much more dangerous than flu. However, it doesn’t mean that here people should get very scared. She says that it is important to maintain an inner calm – to mentally accept everything that is now happening in the world with the pandemic and draw the proper conclusions. Dilyara recommends avoiding panic and provocations. She hopes that people would be more mindful and more optimistic. In addition, Dilyara urges people to observe hygiene rules, as well as do more breathing exercises to boost their immune systems.
Mom is healthy! A 62-year old woman tested negative for coronavirus
Dilyara’s greatest fear eventually didn’t come true. She was on cloud nine to find out that her mom tested negative for the COVID-19 infection.
“The worst thing for me was the possibility that I infected my mom and I was the only one to blame here! I was waiting for her negative results even more than I was waiting for mine. I wasn’t myself until I heard and saw Mom’s coronavirus test that showed negative result. Only then I could allow myself to relax and breathe. I would never forgive myself for doing this to my mom,” Dilyara says.
After a series of agonizing waiting and painful treatment in the hospital, Dilyara is finally home. She is back to her studies. Now she can completely close the chapter of her life called ‘coronavirus’ and move on to the next one. Dilyara thinks that her life will never be the same after what she’s gone through within the last weeks. Dilyara optimistically says that despite everything, her life goes on.