Eat healthy, build immunity, advises Chennai doctor who fought COVID-19

Dr A Ravi, COVID-19 nodal officer, Stanley Medical College Hospital, Chennai who returned to duty early this work after successfully fighting the disease, shares his experience.

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Dr A Ravi, who fought and recovered from COVID-19, has become a leader in the medical fraternity, as he has returned to work. Picture: By special arrangement

From the time the news of his recovery and return to duty in less than three weeks was discussed in the media, Dr A Ravi, has become a hero in the eyes of the medical fraternity and all have turned to him for advice on coping with the infection.

The 50-year-old general medicine specialist, who has been in medical service since 1996 and has served in Thanjavur, Salem, Dharmapuri, before being posted in Stanley, as Professor of Medicine, says, “I tell them all that when there is no antiviral yet for this disease, you have to build on your immune system. Don’t be stressed, eat healthy and sleep well— this is the mantra I have been sharing with all those who ask me how I fought it.”

While he returned to work early this week, he has been working in the control room and is waiting to visit the ward at the hospital, where over 200 are receiving treatment. He says, “But my seniors have advised me not to go as yet to the wards as I just recovered.”

Three months ago, Dr Ravi, recounts that he donned the role of the nodal officer with much reluctance and fear. Donning his personal protective equipment and mask, he remembers being nervous when he went to enquire about the progress of two patients.

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“This was in March when the two nurses who had returned from China were being treated for the disease. I was hesitant about talking to them and was surprised to see them laughing and chatting in the ward. After the first interaction with them, my doubts and fears about the disease vanished.” Dr Ravi says that there was lot to learn about the disease by observing the way they panned out. “There were two couples who returned from the US and while one couple tested positive, the other couple had different results— the wife alone tested positive, It was a surprise because they had come together from the same trip. We were trying to understand the disease by seeing such cases,” he explains

Soon, a spike of numbers due to a religious congregation in Delhi followed and more cases were being treated in the hospital. “Working closely with the team of doctors, looking into the data and discussing it with health officials— there was a lot to be done–and the duty hours were long. I would sleep after midnight and have lunch only after 4 pm,” he adds.

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It was amid the flurry of activities that one day, in the third week of May, he woke up with a fever, and soon lost his sense of taste and smell. Immediately he gave his swab for test and was found to be positive. Isolated in the same hospital, where he was treating patients, Dr Ravi recounts it as a phase for introspection. “I realised my immune system that failed me and nothing else,” he says.

After spending days in isolation and longing to get back to duty, Dr Ravi says that he felt better from the 12th day, but his seniors had asked him to wait till the 17th day. “I have come back with renewed energy to fight the disease,” he adds with a smile.

With his family in Salem, he is however relieved that he didn’t have to risk exposing them to the disease. “I kept my family in dark about it. They heard about me testing positive from the news and I have earned the wrath of my wife and two children since the time I appeared on news with my story of recovery,” he adds with a laugh.

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