Battling COVID-19: A First Person Account By Dr Paul Garner

Dr Paul Garner, Professor Of Infectious Diseases, in the UK documented his battle with COVID-19 in a blog.

This is one of the strangest diseases I have encountered, and I have suffered from both chronic malaria and dengue fever, said Dr Paul Garner about COVID-19.

Garner, professor of infectious diseases at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has been chronicling his recovery in the British Medical Journal. In a discussion with Databaaz, he talks about his 120-day plus long road to recovery after he contracted COVID-19 in early March.

There is growing evidence that COVID-19 causes a far bigger spectrum of symptoms than previously thought to be possible. Dr Harish Chafle, a consultant, Intensivist and Chest Physician at Global Hospital, Mumbai had stated in an earlier interview with Databaaz that the atypical manifestations of COVID-19 include adults coming in with strokes, gastrointestinal manifestations like patients coming in with diarrhoea, vomiting, and neurological conditions. Then we are seeing neurological complications also—so patients coming in with a confusional state for which there is no other explanation is found.

Dr Garner, in his documentation of his illness, stated how it was a rollercoaster ride since he first got COVID-19. Though somedays he felt completely fine, some days, he experienced fatigue and headaches. "The early part of the illness was when I had repeated bouts of feeling hot. It was like being hit on the head by a cricket bat. You would be absolutely floored for days on end," he said.

He said the highs and lows with his experience with COVID-19 made him question his sanity. "I'm a professor of infectious diseases and evidence-based medicine, and I found it hard to work out what's happening to me," said Dr Garner.

Dr Garner also added that the psychological impact the disease has on the patients too is also an important factor. "I know other people who felt that they were having a mental breakdown because their symptoms were that strange. It's a lonely disease that we feeling these things and you think you're different from everyone else," he added.

Dr S Chatterjee and Dr Jeenam Shah in an earlier interview with Databaaz also talked about the long term effects of COVID-19 which included a wide range of effects starting from myocardial problems, gastrointestinal problems and headaches. Dr Shah points out to patients who were on a ventilator because of COVID-19 develop lung fibrosis, and need oxygen therapy at home and past patients of COVID-19 had also developed anxiety problems.

Dr Garner also points out that the hope that the illness will be gone in a few weeks is a part of wishful thinking done by politicians. The illness is here to stay, and he says COVID-19 patients should remember that they should give themselves a chance to recuperate instead of trudging on with the illness. This, according to him, is the only way to heal.

Highlights
-COVID-19 has many strange symptoms which were not amongst those described by doctors to be common a few months ago.
-COVID-19 has many highs and lows. Patients might feel extreme exhaustion on one day and be alright in a few days.
-COVID-19 patients can experience severe mental stress because of the strangeness of their symptoms.

Catch the interview on Youtube or click on the link here.

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