My COVID Story: “Instead of getting my mom home, I had to take her to the crematorium”

My COVID Story: “Instead of getting my mom home, I had to take her to the crematorium”


Dr Kashmira J Gohil had one of the ugliest encounters with COVID where she lost her mother despite staying in the hospital with her to care for her to getting her dad admitted to a hospital right after losing her mom. Here’s her heart wrenching story…

I am Dr. Kashmira J. Gohil (M. Pharm in Pharmacology, PhD), currently working as a Director of Pharmacy college of a reputed educational institute in Northern India

My heart sinks thinking how the second wave of COVID became a personal tragedy and I lost my dear mom over COVID complications in the month of May on 4th. There will never be enough words to express the varied emotions I feel, from terror, horror, panic, fright, alarm to intense exhaustion, all within a short span of time, as I personally experienced searching of hospital bed, stood in long queues for medicines, all alone! I ran around day and night at a COVID hospital with regular exposure to death and despair. Despite the best efforts, intentions, medical care and never ending love, my precious mother passed away this 4th of May, 2021. I didn’t even have time to process my never ending grief, as my dad was admitted soon after and my running around to another COVID hospital resumed. As he got discharged from the hospital and is on a long road to recovery, by grace of God, my grieving heart still refuses to believe that my mom, my eternal well being and support is no more.

-‘ ये व्यक्तित्व की गरिमा है कि, फूल कुछ नहीं कहते..
वरना,

कभी कांटों को मसलकर दिखाईये…’

My mom’s that flower always. As she bravely battled against breast cancer in year 2016-2018. and survived with rare spirit and stamina. But in this covid, as we, my family suffer this unexpected, irreversible loss, I realize now, my life will never be the same again. How does anyone survive or cope with the loss of a parent? I so want to reverse this!! One understands the ancient wisdoms as Soul changing cloths and starting a new journey of exploration and all but some memories never leave your bones. Like salt in the sea they become part of you, and you carry them. My heart is broken for ever, though I try to be strong, as being strong is the only choice I am offered right now in this situation, there’s no solace in horizon.

My parents, my mother taught me to live on my own terms and in state of contentedness and bliss in present, As she attains Nirvana, I celebrate a truly remarkable spirit, a simple, very innocent soul and pure heart.

But however I try to reconcile to the situation, I am not able to get out of this acute pain my soul is feeling over loss of my dear mother who was the solid anchor of me and my family. I am the eldest of 04 siblings.

While I and other sister are in India, my closest one, youngest sister lives in Canada and my youngest brother, lives in USA (who just got married this February, 2021). They both are solid support to me, so far, even if they are still locked down in their respective countries, due to travel restrictions, even in this big tragedy of our family. My younger sister us now preparing to travel to India as the travel restrictions may lift in Canada.

In this COVID situation, I was entirely left alone in getting my mother admitted to to hospital or taking care of her day and night in hospital, as no close or far relatives came forth that time due to covid fear and my dad was also suffering from covid that time, very weak taking treatment at home. It was very bad, peak phase of covid during this April end to May 21, 1st week. There were either acute shortage of hospital bed, oxygen or drugs like remdesivir. I learnt in Unique hospital, Surat where my mother was admitted that only about 30 remdesivir per day were issued to pvt.hosoital against 600 covid patients. I had to submit Aadhar card details of my mother with her test report a day in advance to book remdesivir to get it and then too, I couldn’t get it from hospital pharmacy on 03 days, of admission. I could get only 01 unit of remdesivir drug from this hospital pharmacy on 4th day, but I learnt from doctors in evening that 02 units are to be started one by one on sane day. Being a doctorate (PhD) in pharmaceutical sciences & Director of Pharmacy college, I felt responsible, very responsible and sad at the same time for all these mismanagement and unability of govt or hospital to keep up to the rapid surge of covid in 2nd wave. People were dying left, right and center everywhere.

I have explained the severe condition of my mother to this lady pharmacist there but she explained that she’s not able to supply enough of remdesivir drug to even hospital ICU patients. But then she promised me that she will try to give me atleast 01 remdesivir per day (total 05 to 06 units administered to covid patients gradually) on my advance booking with mother’s Aadhar card and test report. But before even chance of getting the 1st dose of 02 units of remdesivir, my dear mother succumbed to covid, the next day. My father in another hospital was luckier to have 02 doses of remdesivir on the day he was admitted. Though, the effectiveness of this antiviral drug in covid is not proved, my father survived with standard drug cocktail as administered in any hospital for covid treatment.

To give you some brief details from begining, as to how this happened.

On learning, my parents were first found COVID positive in Navsari, Gujarat, I booked urgent tickets and travelled from Agra (my work place) Gujarat by train on 27th April, as my parents were shifted to my native place to Surat on the same day. I reached Surat on 28th April,21.

Like any other concerned parents, my parents did not share about their initial mild fever or weak health condition, to anyone on phone, including to us 04 siblings living different parts in India and abroad. Upon finding something amiss during phone conversations, we learnt of their vulnerable health situation. It turned out, my father has contracted Corona first from somewhere in Navsari, followed by my mother who caught it from him living in the close quarters at home. Even then too, my parents severely resisted any of us on phone, about our idea of coming to them at home, on various pretexts, that we will get exposed to virus, that it’s only mild symptoms, can’t be Corona and it will get away with home remedies in time with quarantine and so on. But I was afraid, and aware about the bad situation prevalent over COVID in our country. You can’t take any fever mildly. So, after talking to local family doctors, my parents were tested, found positive and were put on those famous febiflu, azithromycin and ivermectin medicine diet along with few antacids and vitamins. But their condition did not improve. Plus the local doctor too warned us that atleast one of us should be with them now and to get them admitted in hospital due to their age factor. My father about 73 years and my mother verge of completing her 69 years. But at the same time, the local doctor gave indication too that hospital bed and oxygen bed are hardly available in Navsari and my parents might need shifting to Surat. So, being the eldest daughter and in India, I booked Paschim express from Mathura on Tatkal quota on 27th April, 21 journey and reached directly Surat on 28th April morning, as another member in family living in Surat atleast shifted my parents to our native place in Surat on 27th of April.

From that day on, I never looked back. My parents were on injectable medicines at home but my mother’s condition was deteriorating fast. She was already on external oxygen cylinder at home which was somehow arranged to be delivered at home by my younger sister in Canada. But that cylinder valve also turned out to be leaky as and risky. As I was alone at night at this house with both my parents with grave health condition, I had to take some decisions. I discussed the situation with my sister and brother abroad over WhatsApp conference and we decided that it was really a time to admit my mother at hospital. Initially, my father was not convinced anybody of them admitted to hospital because of this traditional belief that once person goes to hospital, s/he may not come back home alive but finally he let us handle the situation.

With the help of my professional friends, over many calls, messages of help, I finally managed to book a bed in one of the finest, unique Hospital in Surat in this peak of covid phase, and took my mother in ambulance alone on my own on to admit her to hospital, as no close or other relative came forth to actively support in this tough situation for fear of COVID or whatever other reason, despite my humble, verbal requests to atleast accompany me to hospital. So, only I ended up taking my mother attached to external oxygen cylinder, alone to hospital, calling their ambulance service.

As I started the process of admitting my mother there, completing all paperwork and managing medicines from hospital pharmacy and consulting doctors in charge at unique hospital, my desperate, repeated inquiry and plea to all visiting doctors was only one -among others, if my mother will recover soon, to which they said, that she would and that they will try their best. My mother was already on external oxygen cylinder by that time but talking, sitting and even walking. On first day and night I stayed constantly at my mother’s bed side. At unique hospital, semi special AC room was booked and there were 02 covid patients per room alloted. They allowed 01 relative each to stay with the patient. They would have only plastic chair besides patients bed to pull an all nighter.

Since, I was constantly awoke with no sleep, from last 03 days since I came from Agra, due to this grave situation at home with my parents, it started taking its toll on me. I was running around twice a day to medical store downstairs in hospital too, apart from feeding and taking care of mom, where there would be long line sometime to procure medicines. In this situation, I had to gave timely updates on phone and whatsapp to my siblings abroad in Canada & US with my mask and rubber gloved hands amidst all tasks among COVID patients.

My mom’s query, the day before on 2nd of May when she called me on phone from hospital bed, in morning, as I was just leaving our house to go to her in hospital was: Take your time. She asked if I was well and rested enough. But 3rd May night was a nightmare for me. As I came back at our native house, I had dinner and was preparing to sleep when I called mom’s hospital as usual around 10-30pm at nursing station to inquire about my mother’s status. I was told that my patient was stable an hour ago when medicine was administered and that they have an emergency with other patient and that I should call later. After that I slept and was then woken up by an urgent phone call from hospital at around 6-30am in morning. They informed me that my mother was sinking and they were performing intubation CPR. I was very much panicked, I requested them to put her on ventilator and take her to ICU – which they said was not available. With deep panic I called my cousin (mausi’s son) to be ready to take me to hospital. Within 20-30 mins, I rushed to the hospital and ran upstairs to my mom’s room (no.1001). When I reached there, it seemed to be the last leg of CPR performed by a set of few young doctors and my mother was not responding to that. She almost flat lined by the time I reached by her bedside. It was beyond belief.

The young doctors and technicians informed me that my mother was no more now. Doctor’s report stated ‘death due to covid complications as sudden hypoxia & cardiac arrest). I was stunned and couldn’t digest that grave information. It was unbelievable, unexpected, unacceptable.

I sat with my mom in that room for about 40 minutes, in which they prepared my mother’s body as few relatives now visited hospital to take care of final rites and things. As it was a COVID case, the body was taken to crematorium and within 2-3 hours, cremation was done. I was the only woman present among few relatives from my mother’s side & father’s side, who gathered for the cremation. I was almost like a zombie, too stunned to react, still to digest this information that my mother was no more.

This was too much for me besides the fact that it was me who took my mom to that hospital, managing to arrange bed with my professional circle here (with virtual discussion with my siblings abroad too who I managed to keep updated minutes by minutes even in this tough situation).

Apart from the deep grief over a loss, there’s a huge burden now on my heart that rather than taking my mom back home well which was my sole intention, I took her to crematorium.

I didn’t have time to process my grief as within a day, my dad too was also admitted to another hospital in the 1st week of May, with severe covid infection. (Earlier, he was taking treatment at home). Here too, I stayed with my dad at night as he too was panicked due to my mother’s loss. While we managed to get a good bed for him at Radhika Hospital in Surat, few relatives visited compared to that unique Hospital where I was totally on my own. I somehow survived like a miracle, just with a single mask and rubber hand gloves as protection, and came up with negative rtpcr tests, twice, in these times, with my own surprise, as my Hb level too dipped from 10 to 8 in this time.

Luckily, my dad got discharged from the hospital and I took care of him staying with him at our native place. As I am writing this, my dad has recovered well now and in between we had a 03 follow up visits with his doctor and he’s on follow up course of medicines still. On, 19th June, he got his 1st dose of covishield too, as his doctor approved. (While I got my 2 doses of covaxin after my mother’s demise, in June, 2021). In July mid week, my father’s reports came normal including d-dimer and CRP level. The consulting doctor still put him on one month dose of blood thinner and antihypertensive medicine to control the glucose which was was highly elevated initially due to steroid treatment.

While, I feel lucky that my dad survived, at the same time, I am not able to bear this sudden loss of my mother. I am not able to breathe or live, as several questions kill me to the core, that I shouldn’t have taken my mother to that hospital on my own, that I should have stayed with my mom that night, what if nursing station or doctors didn’t respond to her medical emergency situation well in time and what my mother must have gone through in her last hour all alone in that hospital bed. It’s all killing me from inside. I feel responsible for this.

I seemed to have selected the luxury of getting sleep at one night at our house that night rather than being at my mother’s bedside and ended up paying a hefty price now presented with all sleepless nights forever as I miss my mother acutely everyday.

Being a single working woman still, my parents are my world.

As I lost my mother, my major well-being is gone. If my dad has not contracted Corona first in last week of April, 21, if they both would have got vaccinated in time when it started, then may be the situation would have been different. We were all set, happy and content with our lives at our respective places,till now otherwise.

There’s also this complication of planning long term as I have to take care of my lone, widowed father who wouldn’t re-locate to our work place, being comfortable at his own house.

My parents were just about to have their 50th marriage anniversary in a few months time. They have had a love marriage at an early age in their 18-20s. I am deeply wounded and know that my life will never be the same carefree joy again.

Is it possible that I get answers to my above questions? Would the loved oned who passed away just living on another plane or are they gone forever? Would I be able to talk with my mother’s spirit or would I and my family be able to reunite with my mom ever again? Is there any after life at all? Would the spirit survive? I keep googling many such sites to find spiritual answers.

We were a very close knit family and very much emotionally bonded with our parents This very life seems meaningless without her kind presence and care. I try to assuage my heart/soul pain, which I feel is never going away in this lifetime, till I die.

At the same time, I am aware that millions of people have died in this uniquely bad situation presented to human in firm if Corona. We still don’t know as to when or if it’s going to stop or not. Some day or other the new variants are reported by the social news media.

Another worrying condition is that people are still behaving naive, in spite of looking at the death toll, which may be even 10 times higher than reported. I really want to warn people to exercise caution and use mask and sanitizers and social distancing with awareness and appropriate caution. Please, learn from our experience, where we lost our precious loved ones and are finding it hard to live anymore without them. I keep trying to find some hope, solace and inspiration from the stories of courage of covid warriors, including the brave journalist Barkha Dutt who despite losing her own father due to COVID, stands like a rock for others, describing their painful experience, getting them in limelight to help them and others in this grave situation via her mojostory on twitter. The other people like health professionals, all staff providing essential services in this difficult times and the true journalists doing genuine news updates are really worthy of salute and appreciation.

I am writing a book now on the account of my horrid experience in this COVID times and the utter grief experienced and the ways to deal with it. Otherwise,I feel, my work on this earth would not be over.

Thanks for reading my notes. 🙏

Regards,

Dr. Kashmira J. Gohil

(M. Pharm, PhD)



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