Coronavirus Pandemic

#NextStopZero: Covid-positive Dubai expat comes back from 'brink of death'

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on September 14, 2020 | Last updated on September 14, 2020 at 09.25 pm
#NextStopZero, Covid-positive, Dubai expat, comes back, brink of death

(Supplied photos)

Dubai resident Sanil Kumar has got a new lease of life after being hospitalised for over three months battling Covid-19.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another. Some of us are mourning the loss of a loved one, while others are trying to make ends meet after losing their jobs or taking a pay cut. The UAE is gradually restoring normalcy even as it reminds residents that the threat is far from over. Through this two-week series, Khaleej Times will feature residents who have endured a loss due to the virus, to remind you that the alarming surge in daily cases is more than just a number. #NextStopZero is a rallying call to get the community to adopt safe practices so as to bring down the infection rate.

Dubai resident Sanil Kumar has got a new lease of life after being hospitalised for over three months battling Covid-19. Now back at doing what he does best - cook - the chef said no one should experience what he did.

"I was one of the lucky few who came back from the extreme stage that I had reached due to Covid-19. I was on the brink of death," he said.

The 33-year-old had to be put on the ventilator for over a month. "I felt my own death. My oxygen levels were frightfully low and both my lungs had severe pneumonia. To prevent respiratory failure, my doctors at Medeor hospital had to put me in the prone position for 10-15 hours daily to maintain oxygenation. I was experiencing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)."

Hemmed to the hospital bed for months, the Kerala native's muscles felt so weak after recovery that he had to undergo long physiotherapy sessions to be able to get back on his feet again. "The effects of the disease have been so severe that the doctors have told me just 80 per cent of my lungs are functioning normally. I have developed fibrosis in the lungs, where lung tissues become damaged and scarred."

Although Sanil contracted the disease from an infected roommate, he initially thought it would be a passing phase that would "bother" him for a couple of weeks.

"I owe my life to the doctors and nurses who treated me. What started with weakness and high body temperature soon escalated to vomiting, diarrhoea, lack of appetite, shortness of breath, severe cough ... I reached a point where I was completely delusional."

He does not recall the period when he was put on the ventilator. Even after the brain fog and memory loss cleared out, there were other challenges that awaited him.

"After regaining consciousness, I was so frail that I was terrified. I kept asking myself if I would remain trapped in this beleaguered body forever and how I would return to work. I used to be 107kg and have come down to 78kg after I was discharged. I used to constantly worry about my ailing parents, my wife and two children back home, wondering if I would ever see them again," he said.

While it's been a debilitating illness, Sanil said his mental health took a toll, too. "We take so much for granted and Covid-19 has been a big learning lesson for everyone. When you are healthy and life is hunky-dory, many people do not understand the gravity of the situation. They prioritise socialising over safety or view precautions as an intrusion to freedom. But after experiencing what I've been through and the trail of the underlying health conditions that the disease may leave behind, the normal and ordinary days now seem like blessings," the expat added.

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