While the scare of the COVID19 pandemic continues, citizens across the country have tested positive; some have been hospitalized while others have been advised home care and isolation. The latter includes those who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms and have tested positive for the novel virus. While many have followed strict precautionary measures to avoid contracting the infection, it is another daunting task to prepare oneself for the isolation time ahead- familiarizing some of the nuances of living at least a fortnight in a single room goes a long way.
Before you test:
It is alright to suspect that you are infected if you have a fever for no reason, experience a sore throat, headache or weakness. First and foremost isolate yourself from your family; secondly, consult your doctor and explore if testing is recommended. The rationale behind this is, if one tests positive, the likelihood of infection transmission is high in the period immediately before and after. If you test negative, well and good but there are caveats here which your doctor can guide. You might want to test after symptom onset, to ensure that the likelihood of the false negative is avoided. Testing at the right time is crucial.
Isolation after testing positive:
Empty or move out things that others may need as you begin to occupy the room. Entry of inanimate objects are permitted but cannot be moved out again during the period of isolation. It is best to prepare yourself with the following:
− Limited inventory of personal clothes
− Few but needed cutlery, plates and cups
− Personal bath needs
− Washing powder or liquid
− Washing liquid for vessels
− Toilet cleaning liquid
− Waste paper basket
Get into a routine, don’t count the days and be blissful that you are doing an immense amount to good to your loved ones by isolating. Rotate what you do, so that you are not bored. If you have a hobby it is a wonderful time to indulge in it. In the first week of illness, it is advisable to go easy, especially if you are on the upper side of 40; you will tend to tire out easily. There might be some anxiety, video call friends or family; if it helps you to share the facts that are part of the pandemic with loved ones or friends, do it. Some might prefer to be discrete, but we are all different.
Medical monitoring: It is likely you will have medical guidance with regards to treatment and recommended monitoring includes fever, pulse rate and oxygen saturation (Pulse ox as it is called). For medication purposes, strictly follow what your doctor has prescribed- do not go by what is on the internet or what some groups may forward to you, trust your expert. Fever can be erratic and varying in degree, but you should not fret. It is a bit tricky for a lay person; there are frequency and thresholds to know; keep in constant touch with your doctor and share any uneasiness that you may feel, immediately.
Diet and food delivery: A well balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and adequate protein and lot of good hydration is recommended. The key here is appropriate “infection control” when food is delivered: best it is left on to your plate without contact. It is good to have small and frequent meals with fruits and nuts. Loss of taste and smell can be issue for some; keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day by consuming sufficient amounts of water.
Waste handling: Best left within the room in a basket and bag dropped in to a second larger bag from outside with bleach powder for disinfection.
2nd week: Will likely become easier as the illness wanes with relatively better energy. Not a sign to stretch our energy or step out but more cerebral work and work engagements with calls and emails helps
After recovery: Testing is not recommended for mild illness. But one may choose to do it. It is best if you are aware of how health authorities will respond to the same. Get rid of the toiletries, put your clothes and bed linen in a disinfectant before washing, do a surface cleaning of the floor, contact surfaces and toilet. You might want to do it twice. Sun dry the pillows and cushions and leave the room well aerated for three days (just a safety margin). Let the virus die a natural death.
Now you are good to go. Home is back to normal!
(Disclaimer: Author is Dr. Suresh Sankar, Nephrologist and Senior VP Clinical Affairs, NephroPlus. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)