Gloom casts a shadow on everything as the most unprecedented phenomenon of our times, COVID-19, has been interrupting normal life across the world for many months now. It has been forcing people into fear, disillusionment, and dwindling hope. It has rendered social distancing the “New Normal”. However, amidst this downturn, there are some uplifting stories that act as beacons of hope for all of us.
This is the story of Rajiv Singh – Senior VP at a multi-billion dollar tech company. Rajiv battled COVID and won against the odds. His story is one of pure grit & mettle, and a will to overcome the challenges that life throws at us.
Rajiv returned home from a long overseas business trip in early March 2020. As was the standard, he immediately went into self-quarantine. India went into lockdown soon after, and he started working from home. However, a couple of months later, he developed a high fever with a cough. His family was stuck in New York City due to lockdown in the US, and he was left to take care of himself in Mumbai.
Rajiv was under the impression that it was a viral fever due to change of weather, or perhaps low immunity related issues due to exhaustion from work. A COVID test was ordered, which came back positive.
The battle started with a steep challenge right off the bat. Alone in Mumbai, and so sick that he was delirious, Rajiv had to find a hospital to take him in. He then had to pack his bags, get ready, and board the ambulance despite his delirium and extremely low energy.
At the hospital, Rajiv’s temperature reached a dangerous 104 degrees, and he was moved the same night to the ICU. The doctors pronounced that his condition was grim. His oxygen saturation levels had dropped dangerously low, and all health parameters were negative.
In the ICU, Rajiv was continuously provided lifesaving antibiotics and oxygen for 4 days to save his life. Closer examination found that more than 50% of his lungs were not functioning and that he had pneumonia. The fight against COVID-19 was intense now, and it was a challenge to stay alive. What kept Rajiv going was his determination, honed over years of working against huge obstacles.
Although it did not reach normal values, his oxygen saturation improved over the next few days, and his fierce resolve to defeat COVID-19 increased. He promised himself, “I will not die of this virus.”
Until then, he had survived with oxygen support. Something told Rajiv that now, he needed to fight the battle from within. He told doctors that he would not continue with medical oxygen. Instead, he started breathing exercises that he had learnt in Yoga. Yogic techniques like ‘anulom-vilom’ (the alternate nostril breathing) belonging to the ‘Pranayama’ discipline of Yoga enabled him to bring his oxygen saturation level much closer to normal. Rajiv could see the transformation on the monitors in front of him within minutes.
Since he was not yet cured of coronavirus, the doctors decided, then, to administer HCQ (Hydroxychloroquine) medicine to aid his recovery which led to a huge drop in his blood pressure.
Rajiv sensed a life and death situation. He told himself staunchly that he will fight and that he will win, no matter what. While his health parameters were negative, his resolve stayed strong.
The doctor then ordered steroids, which brought his health parameters back to normal. Feeling much better and with confidence that he was now definitely winning the battle, Rajiv turned his attention turned to others in the ICU and prayed for their recovery. This was a prayer born of strength, for it was with strength and determination that Rajiv defeated the illness a few days later when he tested COVID negative.
Rajiv had won the fight. He states that surviving this experience has meant a new life for him. His advice to everyone is that “nothing can match the strength of those whose lives have been shaped and forged through challenging and overcoming hardships. Such people fear nothing. To cultivate such an invincible core is itself victory.”
Rajiv’s story will remain an inspiration to countless people around the world for years to come. Not only does it bring hope to others battling this deadly pandemic but serves as food for thought even for those who were lucky enough to have escaped from the clutches of Coronavirus.
2020 has truly been a year of unpredictability, chaos and suffering throughout the world but this experience helps instil hope that we can overcome any obstacle with sheer will and the power of Yoga.