Experience: Here's what they don't tell you about quarantining yourself for health reasons
When there’s a public health emergency like there is right now, it’s important to do your part and take every precaution you need to take.
I’ve been unwell since last week. It started with feeling feverish, a pounding headache, body ache and a mild case of diarrhoea. I assumed it was just PMS (premenstrual syndrome) at first. But living in the time of the novel strain of coronavirus (or COVID-19), which has been deemed a pandemic affecting 166 countries (including my own), meant that I was not willing to take any chances with my health or of those around me.
The first thing I did was call in sick while explaining my symptoms and fears. I live in Mayur Vihar, New Delhi - the area in which the first confirmed case of the national capital showed up - and take public transport to work every day. In the off chance that I had contracted COVID-19, I was likely to spread it pretty quickly. Add to this the fact that I have an overall weak immune system and an autoimmune disease, I was sure I would get worse quite fast.
Keeping a health diary
The only silver lining of being someone who takes their health very seriously is that you learn to keep a good track of your symptoms. I took note of my symptoms and discovered that while I was feeling feverish, I didn’t have a fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The head and body aches persisted though, and so did the stomach upset for about 3-4 days. Two new symptoms also showed up, and this was more worrying: throat ache and an occasional dry cough. I decided the best thing to do was to work from home and self-isolate.
I must admit I was apprehensive about visiting a doctor, like I’m sure many of you are right now, in the middle of this national health emergency. What if I get an infection while in the waiting room? What if I then bring it back home to my partner and in-laws, and they fall sick too?
Why going to a doctor is important
Getting over these fears and visiting a doctor is very important right now because pure panic and anxiety are not going to help you or me. There’s something called a psychosomatic disorder, which affects many people in stressful situations. What happens is that being stressed or anxious about a disease makes the symptoms of the disease worse. Or, in some cases, being stressed about having a disease actually makes some symptoms show up without the presence of any underlying medical condition at all.
I overcame my fears and went to the doctor armed with masks, gloves, sanitizers - call me paranoid if you will, but as long as I wasn’t sure of what I had, I was going to take every precaution I could. The doctor told me I had a sore throat and a mild respiratory infection, but since I hadn’t been in contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient - India is in Stage II of disease transmission right now, so you can, thankfully, only get infected if you’re in close contact with a confirmed patient - there was very little chance I had the coronavirus infection.
I was a bit relieved. The doctor gave me a prescription of antibiotics and other medications, told me to follow a normal diet, and continue to observe my symptoms and self-isolation until I got better. I had already taken all the steps needed for a proper self-quarantine, so I came home sure of the fact that if I take the medications and all the care possible, I’ll get better soon.
Self-isolation does not rule
Working from home and self-isolation might sound like a holiday for some, but it isn't so great for others. A day or two into it is when some may realise that their mental health is taking a beating and affecting their health more than any other disease or issue they might have.
In my case, three members of the household working from home while in different rooms means loud noises, and a crawling wi-fi. My mind and body get barely any rest because I've merged my home and workplace. While in conversation with a friend in Philadelphia, USA, who has been in isolation for a few days as well, I discovered that there’s something other than COVID-19 that those who are quarantined or self-isolated at home have to be worried about: cabin fever.
Cabin fever is a claustrophobic feeling that groups of people who are isolated or stuck in confined places develop. It usually causes irritability, restlessness and hopelessness. It’s also something many of us who are working from home during the COVID-19 emergency could be experiencing. And while everyone has a different coping mechanism, here’s how I’m dealing with it:
- Ensuring all the hygiene and safety protocols are followed by people around me.
- Making sure everyone around me is getting proper nutrition and some exercise too.
- Separating myself from the family during regular working hours.
- Using headphones and a study table facing the wall to avoid distractions while working.
- Using leisure time properly by engaging in activities that I find refreshing, like reading, cooking and watching movies.
When there’s a public health emergency like there is right now, it’s important to do your part and take every precaution you need to take - for your own sake, your loved ones’ sake and for the overall well-being of humankind.
This article was written by Shreya Goswami, a food and health writer associated with myUpchar.
For more tips, read our article on Coronavirus Infection: Symptoms, types, diagnosis and treatment.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
The information provided here is intended to provide free education about certain medical conditions and certain possible treatment. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis, treatment, and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. If you believe you, your child or someone you know suffers from the conditions described herein, please see your health care provider immediately. Do not attempt to treat yourself, your child, or anyone else without proper medical supervision. You acknowledge and agree that neither myUpchar nor firstpost is liable for any loss or damage which may be incurred by you as a result of the information provided here, or as a result of any reliance placed by you on the completeness, accuracy or existence of any information provided herein.
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