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This mother shares her worst times as her adult daughter is in London, and infected, battling COVID-19 alone – with tips for those in a similar situation.
… and the child is afflicted, alone, and away from home.
Sometimes the worst of nightmares can be described in just one single line.
My daughter Tiana is doing her Masters program in London. She went there in September 2019, looking forward to the best experience of her life. Little did we know what 2020 had in store.
Through all of March, we tried and tried to get her back home to Mumbai, in these turbulent times. Covid-19 was spreading its tentacles all over the world and we wanted our daughter with us, back home.
But it was not meant to be.
Between different government policies on visas and shutting of borders, my daughter lay trapped in a web of indecision. We could only watch helplessly and worry endlessly.
What had started as a respiratory infection spiralled into more complications. Unless symptoms are unmanageable, the only solution is to manage yourself in self isolation. The health care system is overloaded and it is impossible to diagnose and treat the constantly emerging cases.
My daughter suffers from allergic asthma and a vocal cord dysfunction since 2012. Initially, we hoped a regular course of antibiotics would sort out the matter.
But it was not that simple.
Her symptoms worsened and she lost her sense of taste and smell too. It was a petrifying moment when we realised she might have the virus. What could we do at this distance, far apart, based in two continents?
3rd March 2020 – Laryngitis. UTI. Antibiotics. She got better but never fully recovered.
19th March 2020 – India just closed its borders. Her symptoms suggested COVID-19 and a secondary infection. Self isolation.
A mentally and physically harrowing time followed for her. And for us.
Fear. Prayers. Panic. Frustration. Faith.
10th April 2020 – After three weeks in self isolation, Tiana stepped out of her room, recovered. The first thing she did was sit on every chair in her apartment and send us a photograph.
Thank you to the universe that came together to protect her whilst we could not help in any way.
Her room mate Gabi, her guardian angel, who selflessly cooked, cleaned, managed the show and kept Tiana’s spirits going. Not for a minute did she or her mother, Maria think of Gabi’s risk of exposure to my daughter.
The doctors we traced in London, who monitored her illness and patiently answered our million questions.
The family and friends who kept in touch with their prayers and concern.
The Almighty for keeping us going till we saw the rainbow after the dark clouds finally cleared.
I write this, hoping to reach out to other parents who may be stuck in a similar situation. You are not alone.
Support: Reach out to people. It helps. Build a network of care and concern to see you through this traumatic period.
Keep Busy: Keeping physically busy is the key. The distractions of housework and pottering about the house are great stress-busters. But don’t get obsessed with them in a bid for escapism.
Stay Calm: Whatever your stress, the person with the illness is the one stuck in a room. They have no mental or physical capability to indulge in normal tasks. Besides a casual enquiry of their health on a daily basis, keep the worry away. Stay calm. Stay cheerful. Let the positive energy permeate.
Information Overload: The last thing you need is further anxiety or causing it to your loved, ailing one. Avoid reading about facts and figures on the virus constantly. Limit your time to the bare minimum which will keep you updated, once a day. Then stay away from the topic of the virus like the plague!
Coping Mechanisms: Use every resource at your disposal. Family, friends, exercise- mental and physical, meditation, movies, books, learning a new skill, online courses and self pampering. Above all, pray for happier, healthier times for everyone.
Acceptance: Instead of running from the worry, which sooner or later catches up, face it head on. Accept the turmoil of your emotions. Rationalise the futility of thinking you have control over the situation. Get rid of guilt, regret and blame. Don’t be hard on yourself.
Perspective: Look at it differently. Imagine the scenarios. Perhaps if Tiana had come back home, when we wanted, she could have spread the virus to us and her ageing grandparents. Along the way, she could have infected other people too. On the other hand, since we do not know a 100% that she had the virus, with her weakened immunity, she could have actually contracted it en route the flight and airport. Worse still, she could have been in quarantine in an overloaded hospital. Either way, the impediments in her path probably protected her and others.
We are all in this together, even if we are miles apart.
This too shall pass.
A better, wiser world awaits.
Never lose faith or hope.
Hope is the possibility of a happy ending.
This one is for you, Tiana. Till we meet again. Stay blessed.
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Alisha "Priti" Kirpalani is the author of "Out With Lanterns" a genre-breaking novel about
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