‘LIVE-IN’ Experiences with COVID 19-3 narratives
Prof. Pushpa Srinivasa, Mrs. Irukulla Vijayalaxmi and Ms.Minal Rao
The experiences of living with COVID 19 has become part of each and every person in the world.
It is right to say that the experiences of each person is different from that an another person, though there are commonalities life fear of death, pain, stigma, anxiety, fear of the uncertainty and grief.
The following long blogpost brings together three such narratives.
They are very special for the background of the presenters as well as what they share.
I am deeply appreciative of al the three contributors for sharing their life journey as well as the lessons that they have gained from the experience.
The important role of ‘making sense’ through spirituality is significant.
Covid and thereafter—My Experience
Dr Pushpa Srinivas
Consultant OB&GYN,Sagar Hospital, Bangalore.
Former Professor Ob & Gyn ,
Banagalore Medical College
Surprises are part of life
The winter of 2019 was like any of the preceding years.
My husband and myself were enjoying the visit of my daughter and grandchildren. My daughter and grandchildren had come from Sydney for a holiday in December2019. They stayed for a month. They visited Hyderabad to see their grandmother (my mother-in-law) and my sister and her family.
That was the last time we all met and had a memorable time.
Just then the media was carrying the information about Covid-19, which we thought, initially as another viral Flu. Soon it was apparent that it was a deadly virus spreading all over the world and declared as a pandemic. I was quite concerned about my daughter and her children, who were leaving for Sydney via Singapore and we provided them with a few masks for protection..
Out of the blue, this covid 19 shook the world, infecting and affecting the population worldwide like tsunami, with many deaths, particularly in USA.
I was feeling what have we done to face this pandemic? People started talking about kaliyug.
Slowly, fear started entering my mind, as we were only two of us here in Bangalore, myself and my husband-both senior citizens, with our children residing abroad. My daughter livesin Sydney and my son and his family live in USA.
I started wondering, if we are affected, whether we will be able to see our children or not?
We had booked our tickets to Sydney to be with my daughter’s family, looking forward to enjoying the company of our grandchildren. To our disappointment the flights to Australia were suspended and the plans fell flat!
Then came the news of several of my family members becomingseriously ill with Covid.
The news followed with a few of them succumbing to the illness.
- My brother’s grandson just 40 yrs old,
- my brother’s daughter and my sister’s husband.
- Another relative of mine was admitted in a critical condition and expired and simultaneously his wife was admitted in another hospital., who was not informed about his death. In fact his children were not allowed to see his face after death and cremation was done by the corporation staff, as per Covid protocol.
- In addition we learn that some of our friends and colleagues also succumbed to covid.
All this newswas affecting me and fear of contracting Covid by me or my husband and the consequences thereof was very disturbing, to say the least.
Then I started feeling, change in taste and smell and totally exhausted, extreme fatigue never in my life experienced, not able to sleep or sit or walk. I never had symptoms of fever, headache, cold or cough, or body ache.
As we were aware this could be Covid infection, myself and my husband got tested for Covid. My husband did not have any symptom, and he was attending to his hospital work.
I was praying that we should get Covid result as negative, but it was not to be. Lateevening we were informed that both of us are positive.
Then started the wild imagination, what will happen to us, no children with us, theycan’t come even if they want to because of travel restrictions, will they be able to see our bodies, not possible because of travel restrictions. My husband though asymptomatic, was admitted with me in the same room for treatment. I would never have stayed alone in hospital, and if my husband had tested negative, he would not be allowed to stay with me, so was God kind to me? Then I decided to face this covid boldly and I was helped by my husband who was in the same room.I was worried about him too since he isa diabetic.
My treating physicians were good people took special care of us and very encouraging infusing confidence. We were administered Remdisvir, steroids, anticoagulants, and intermittent oxygen. Fortunately, we did not require ICU transfer, reminding that in every bad situation there is something good too!!
As we were admitted in the hospital where we were working, all the staff –medical,nursing,dietician-were looking after us as family members.In factI had rest at hospital rather than at home during our 10 days stay in hospital!
Coming back home
Still on oxygen at home for about 3to 4 days and tapered treatment over next 7-10 days. My appetite improved we wereeating more fruits.
I slowly joined onlineyoga classes which I practiced religiously. I also attended dance therapy classes, which Iliked and all students were covid positive and it was a free class for us by Tripura Kashyap. I also took inner engineering course from Sadguru for doctors .I also attended few classes of Param Vedanta ,
I was getting an overload of information on Covid, through newspapers, TV channels, social media friends , relatives, mostly negative and frightening.
While it is reassuring to listen to my treating physician that it is a mild illness in me, the weird thoughts do not go away by mere reassurances.
That is where I turned to our age old traditional methods to calm mind.
I explored several such methods keeping myself busy with imbibing the required steady mind. Mental health is paramount under these circumstances to overcome the physical discomfort too.
Spiritual lessons helped me to overcome the depression anxiety.
I enrolled myself in various groups seeking solace, such as Bhagavadgita, Bhagvatpurana, Inner engineering –Sadguru, Yoga and dance therapy. This not only kept me busy, but also gradually attained peace, realisation towards life ,not just Covid related, less anger and more of acceptance.
I read tatvaloka magazine full of knowledge more than that , giving me more wisdom. From this, I understood myreal nature is not the body and mind,but all consciousness principle,called ‘atman’ which is of sat-chit-anandaswarupa which is within us as sakshichaitnaya witnessing the action. Chaitnya is atman. The real one as the body and mind are not permanent. Both of them wear off.
To some extent, I was so ignorant of many things our guru discusses about atman Gnaana. Now Irealise that that Krishna is in my soul and Krishna is with me, I keep talking to him. I have developed faith in himand that faith in him helps fora good deed to be done, not to compare, not get wild, not to have krodha,kama,lobha and mastsara. All these understandings are ingrained now slowly into my paramanu.
So how much is the harmful effects of anger?It is like a chain- ‘krodha’ leading to delusion, to memory loss, and the intellect is destroyed and thus ruined.
It has happened to me at home front and I have experienced loss.
In the brain, both cerebrum rightand left should have a balance.
It is not that Iwas bad but I have become more understanding and practicing mindful meditation and balance the both part of brains.
The soul in you is of Krisnhna-
he only has given this birth and he only plans for all of us.
Why should I be worried when he is in me and around me he knows what I am so I have left everything to Krishna. It is not that getting detached from attachment does not mean that I am totally detached. In life you can have an attachment and also detachment. My mother told this two days before her death. I recognise that soul is eternal and soul of Krishna in me is teaching me how to forget, and how to get balanced both side of brain.
My expectation and ‘krodha’(anger) has reduced quite a lot, though basically I am very soft by heart and do not like to do wrong things. Yet at times I get ‘krodha’ and that has become very less and my acceptance level has increased be it with family or be in office or be it relationships.
So I give this credit to covid and then gurus telling me this corona affected all over the universe, so many died in different countries, and it is very sad. I have tears in my eyes and anger on corona. I am not related to everyone but I felt for all of the people, their problems are my problems, as expressed in the Hindu philosophy, ‘vasudevkutumbakam’- we all one family.
This covid pandemic has taught us, that we need peace harmony, and compassion and empathy for our fellow beings and mother nature.
Iorried about my children being away from us and their health.
Any ups and down andI am always think negatively and feel panic but console myself why should I be so negative?After all life and death are like a merry go around.
Why am I afraid of death, when I have seen so many deaths in my profession?
Ultimately listening tomy guru (Bhagavtam Teacher), I have become so much consciousness developed that ‘Krishna is there’ in my soul and he knows how to solve the problems. Why should I worry? He is closely attached to my heart and he wants to make friend with me. He is my best friend soulmate, best guide, best balancer of my mind. There is no reason for worry. Now I talk to him and go on conversing and overcome my panic. I am happyand I make attempts to improve myself
Every book talks of body mind and soul and explains be it any spiritual book
and consciousness superconsciousness., the satvikrajasiktamsikgunas. Every humanbeing, in 24 hours of a day can be tamsik to satvik but you have to decide whatis good for you. I have chosen to be most of the time to be satvik and follow always dharma and be ethical.
Gita guides us, our right is to work only but never on the fruit thereof Let not the fruit of action be our object nor let our attachment be to in action. We have control over action but not the fruit of action
Slowly wisdom is dawning in me which was hidden.
Now my Krishna has entered into my soul and I am quite comfortable. He is the one who has responsibility and for me only to do right action.
All these activities gave me peace of mind,confidence and a new life or more correctly new perspective on my life.
These are my spiritual learning.
GraduallyI became less anxious and less depressed, controlled my anger, developed an attitude of gratitude and empathy. I was able to accept as they are, be it domestic help or husband and gave them margin to be what they are.
I got involved with my professional Association, and as a Chairperson of BSOG Constitution Amendment Committee, I was kept busy for several weeks.
In the meantime, mybrother-in-law at Hyderabad who was already on renal dialysis got affected with Covid and was in a critical condition, and we were planning to see him. Iinviewof theCovid situation we were asked not to travel and when he passed away we couldn’t even be there at the time of cremation, but were able to witness it on video stream. His demise was a huge setbackfor me, and took a while to get back to near normal state.
Post-covid I had only one anxiety — whetherI will see my children at the time of death? I keep waiting anxiously when the international borders will open for me to travel and meet my children and grandchildren.
I was very much concerned about my son and his family being in USA where covid was rampaging.
Some physical symptoms like tinnitus ,impaired hearing ,blurring vision were the after effects,of which blurring vision improved.Even now, I continue to have tinnitus and impaired hearing.
I wish we don’t enter Third Wave, but knowing the poor civic sense in our society, not caring to observe basic principles to avoid/spread infection, it seems, we are left with only prayer to help us.
COVID and My Story—Mrs.IrukullaVijayalaxmi, Secundrabad
Over the past year and a half, the world has been facing a devastating calamity which has made life difficult for so many people. As our lives revolved amidst the COVID pandemic we learnt new coping skills including living without the help of maids.
It taught us how to adjust with and help each other.
It made us more patient and tolerant.
It also brought unforgettable pain and tragedy.
I am sharing my personal experiences.
My husband who suffered from chronic kidney disease which required him to be on hemodialysis thrice a week.
He was diagnosed with COVID pneumonia in August 2020.
A couple of days later, my son who drove him for the dialysis sessions also developed COVID symptoms.
They were admitted in different hospitals.
As my husband’s condition was serious he was being managed in the ICU.
My 10-year old grandson, daughter-in-law and I faced a tough time as we struggled to manage and co-ordinate between hospitals.
The maid, cook and driver refused to work in a house affected with COVID.
Even the vegetable vendors avoided our house as it was marked as a COVID house by the local authorities.
Fortunately, after some struggle my daughter who lives in the US could get a visa to travel to India. She boarded a flight as soon as she got her travel documents. She canceled all the appointments in her busy dental practice.
A few days later we got a call at around midnight informing us that my son’s condition deteriorated in the hospital and he had to be shifted to the ICU.
My daughter risked driving to the hospital to check on him.
All the whileI feared and prayed for the safety of my children.
My daughter showed great mental strength and this gave me a lot of courage and reassurance. Eventually my niece arranged for a driver but we had to agree to pay him an exorbitant fee.
My son was back home in a few days but continued to suffer from post-covid symptoms. My husband stayed in hospital for slightly over a month. He needed supplemental oxygen even after his discharge and had to keep going to the hospital thrice a week for his dialysis sessions. With his strong will he gradually began to regain his strength and his oxygen requirement reduced considerably.
COPING WITH THE CRISIS
During these difficult times, I remembered a discourse by Chinmayanand Swamiji that I had attended a long time ago during a very stressful time in my life.
His words had really helped me overcome the challenges I had faced and continue to give me courage to this day.
After a 3-month long battle with his illness my husband passed away suddenly due to post covid complications.
It happened suddenly just when it had begun to look like he had nearly recovered.
All this while my 10-year old grandson was confined indoors due to lockdown, missed his friends and outings and witnessed the upheaval in our lives.
He showed great understanding and resilience for his age but nevertheless there were moments when he became cranky and irritable.
He must’ve felt lonely and scared although he couldn’t express it.
He often found escape in TV, messaging and video calls but also utilized the time to learn some new skills like cooking and wave-boarding.
Children have truly suffered during this crisis as their normal lives have been replaced with home confinement, lack of outdoor physical activities, lack of social interactions and overdose of TV and gadgets.
Our routines have also been significantly altered.
Hand sanitizers have become an integral part of all activities and dry, itchy hands became the price to pay for safety.
My experience through this pandemic taught me the importance of health and family.
We need to practice self-discipline and inculcate healthy habits in ourselves and our loved ones. Planning and saving for the future and unexpected situations is also very important. Finally, one should be strong and optimistic. This will be extremely helpful in dealing with challenges with undue stress.
My COVID EXPERIENCES
December 2019, is when it all started.
On news, there was COVID 19 alert in Wuhan.
I was with my grandparents in India.
We were discussing about the pandemic.
None of us thought it would lead to what happened to us.
We were planning to leave back to Australia, and because of the catastrophic bushfires we bought masks to protect us from the smoke. A few months after we arrived in Australia, we ended up using the mask for a different reason, COVID!!
Now, we are unfortunately in lockdown, cursing the trance of loneliness our society has been put into.
Every day new cases occur, as we all stare at the television hoping for good news.
Four words to describe lockdown for me would be – scary, home, Online learning, and looooooonnnngggggg walks.
Every day I wake up at 8:00 rushing to go to class.
Ready with my laptop open, long hours on technology pass by.
Occasionally we go for walks to get us out of the four walls.
Now that lockdown has started, and I am on technology a lot for school work.
I play outside in our backyard a lot more.
The great thing is… SLEEPING IN!
I live in Concord, really close to Burwood Westfield, there are no COVID cases here.
Living in Concord is a benefit as there are loads of parks and areas to walk near, so when we need fresh air that comes in handy.
If there was no lockdown, staying in the house all day would be the last thing I do.
Knowing me I love to swim and be with friends.
All my friends are really close by so I would be having tons of sleepovers right now.
Last year, in December I would’ve been in India with my family.
We would’ve done wild things right now, but COVID is a real tight handcuff.
In the future, when COVID is all over and the next generation would’ve come. My guess is that COVID would be like the plague to the next generation, something they would study but never experience. In the future I hope COVID weakens, so we can live life like we used to, with no handcuffs pulling our spirit away. But I bet things will never be the same …
Ms. Minal Rao (Grand daughter of Dr HV Srinivas and Dr Pushpa Srinivas)
Studying in Class VIII