Co-morbidities or co-existence of one or more conditions does not have to mean the end of the road. By having a positive outlook and a proactive approach to better manage each condition, one can overcome all hurdles. Savita Lakhe discusses how she recovered from coronavirus infection while managing Diabetes and hypertension.
Name: Savita Lakhe
Age: 43 years
Occupation: Purchase Manager, Healthcare Sector
I have been working in the healthcare sector for the past 20 years. I have always been associated with the most critical areas of healthcare. In 2009, I had experienced a severe and constant headache. I was prescribed painkillers which provided temporary relief but the pain would reoccur after a few hours of taking medication. I also experienced swelling in my entire body.
I consulted a doctor at my native place and was diagnosed with hypertension. I was then treated for hypertension for two years, but my condition continued to worsen. The doctor had failed to treat the underlying cause and had only prescribed medication to lower my blood pressure.
In 2011, during a pre-employment check-up, my urine reports showed high protein levels. A doctor in the hospital I worked at suggested that I undergo a kidney check-up because of on-going episodes of headaches, body swelling and fluctuating blood pressure levels. I consulted a nephrologist and got my kidneys checked. The 24-hour urine report suggested high protein levels in the urine (proteinuria) and swelling in the kidneys. I was asked to undergo a kidney biopsy which showed membranous glomerulonephritis. This is a condition where the filtration capacity of the kidney is severely affected and leads to protein leaking into the urine.
I had also started having migraines and uterine bleeding during this time. The doctor had put me on steroids to treat my kidneys. When steroids were prescribed to me, the doctor mentioned that there was a risk of the onset of Diabetes as Diabetes is a known side-effect of steroids and hormonal medications. An intrauterine device was implanted to manage the uterine bleeding. But this did not suit me and I needed additional hormonal medicines to stop the bleeding.
In 2014, I started experiencing excessive hunger. My random blood sugar level was 425 mg/dL. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and was prescribed metformin for lowering my blood sugar levels.
In 2017, I underwent hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) as medicines had failed to stop uterine bleeding. After the hysterectomy, my blood sugar levels increased. To lower the levels, I was prescribed basal-bolus insulin therapy for four months.
I am a qualified Diabetes Educator and so I regularly advised and demonstrated to other people on how to administer insulin and how to use the glucometer. But when I was advised to check my sugar levels thrice a day and take insulin, I realised that it was more easily said than done. I sought help from the nursing staff in the hospital where I worked. Only after a week was I able to gather my courage and self-administer insulin. I realised then that I had to make a conscious effort to overcome my fear of needles.
Consistent health problems and increasing medication made me feel low and depressed at times. I had also developed a fear of insulin and needle pricks. I started being afraid of checking my blood sugar levels. I was mentally, emotionally and psychologically disturbed. After I underwent a hysterectomy, I was depressed. The decision had cost me the ability to be a mother.
My family, friends and doctors were my pillars of strength in my hour of need. They guided and helped me overcome my depression and fear. They helped me see that life was so much more than simply being a person with Diabetes. My doctors took the time and care to ensure that I had the best healthcare possible. They counselled me about lifestyle modifications to help me cope with the realities of my life. I received counselling and proactively modified my diet, exercise routine and sleep patterns. I took charge and became involved with my treatment plan. I consciously paid attention to taking all my medication on time and as per prescription. In time this helped me turn my life around and lead a stress-free life with Diabetes.
My current lifestyle
After seeing my improved health parameters, my doctor stopped my steroid medication. I regularly test my urine, HbA1c, fasting and post-prandial blood sugar levels, lipid profile and serum creatinine level every three months. My HbA1c is now 6 per cent.
COVID-19 – My story
Being employed in a critical area of the healthcare sector, I always knew that I was at a high risk of being exposed to COVID-19 infection. After 7 months of coronavirus outbreak in India, I tested positive for coronavirus. My symptoms were body ache, weakness, lethargy, headache and loss of taste – so much that I couldn't distinguish between tea and water by taste.
I could only feel that some liquid is passing down my throat. I was tested on the fifth day after my symptoms appeared. I also had a fever for the first five days. Since I did not have any breathing difficulties, I was recommended home quarantine.
My COVID-care plan included checking myself thrice a day for fever and oxygen saturation level and reporting the results to my healthcare providers. I was also asked to monitoring blood pressure and blood sugar levels every day. I was advised to eat simple, fresh home-cooked meals with very minimal oil and spices in them. I ate a lot of fruits to maintain my nutritional intake. I was advised to drink sufficient water and other fluids to maintain my hydration level.
I started feeling better from the 14th day of testing. On 18th day, I resumed my duty at my workplace but experienced lethargy and body ache. I consulted my physician who, upon examination, confirmed that I am experiencing post-COVID effects and that my body required more rest. I took leave for 1 more week and resumed work only after my symptoms were completely gone.
My journey to healing
When my coronavirus test results indicated that I was positive, at first I felt sad and dispirited. My initial thoughts were – after managing multiple health conditions for so many years, I did not want to come across something like this. I took all the necessary precautions and still it happened to me. I would feel irritated by the external noises and light and preferred staying inside, keeping the doors and windows shut.
I constantly stayed in touch with my healthcare providers and followed their instructions every step of the way. Simultaneously, I started meditating and staying active by doing simple household chores without causing too much strain to my body. I couldn't look at the T.V. screen or smartphone as that would cause a severe migraine headache. Instead, I started reading some interesting books during my recovery. They not only helped me avoid boredom but also helped me stay patient and positive.
To keep my mental balance, I tried to stay away from watching or listening to any negative news as much as possible. I would read only the highlights to keep myself informed but would never get into the depth of any matter. I tried to stay physically active by doing light exercise. Since I am a believer and follower of pranic healing meditation, I remembered the words of my spiritual teacher who taught me how to stay calm, centred and positive in the face of adversity. Along with medication and routine monitoring, I followed the healing techniques suggested by my teachers of pranic healing to cope with any sort of negative emotion. I would meditate every day and would receive pranic healing guidance four times a day. My 21-day COVID-19 recovery was like an improvement program for myself. It has taught me a lot about myself and had allowed me to work to improve myself.
Our thoughts have the power to make or break us. When my COVID-19 test results came positive, everybody in my family and social circle called me and wished me a speedy recovery. I was upset with the whole scenario for some time but then I thought pain is certain but managing my suffering could be my choice. I chose to stay motivated, healthy and joyful throughout my recovery. Medicines, without a doubt, healed my body but meditation, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and Pranic healing have helped me heal my mental and emotional state.
When the outbreak started, we were cut from all of the regular activities that we once used to enjoy doing freely. But this time has also helped us become more aware of what is truly necessary for us and has taught us to bond with our inner self. We have learnt to become introspective, take a step back and observe our actions, lifestyle, thoughts and emotions. Many people have experienced personal suffering this year – be it physical, mental, relationship-wise or financial. We all should take this time as an opportunity to analyse our life choices. All the feelings that we experience every day are associated with these choices. Meditation and conscious breathing help us to detach from these feelings and calm our mind.
It is very important to keep away from all kinds of negativity to recover from the coronavirus disease. I believe that negative emotions magnify the severity of any illness. When we constantly worry about the negative outcomes, we hamper our body's resourcefulness and hinder our path to recovery. I have learnt that it is important to focus not only on our physical state but also to keep a check on our emotional well-being and heal our mind to live life to the fullest.