I took a look at the world. It was rotting away fast. Deaths and diseases are natural but the humanity was coming closer fast to something very settlingly dark.
Worries do not help. I continued going to school by subways. Then, one day, I started coughing. I got a fever too. I could not say whether it was Covid-19 attack or just a seasonal flu.
The season of hope had come but I was growing weaker by the day. Then shutdown began, one after another. I got more worried. I had never felt vacant like this before. Something had really changed. I could feel it in my bones.
Covid-19 is really painful. It is agonising. It is maddening. All of a sudden one becomes weak and fatigued. It feels like one’s head is being ceaselessly beaten by a sledgehammer.
Once the Covid-19 strikes, it is serious if one does not get enough care. Appetite loss is a given and that can sink one into a dangerous depth.
I thought I was dying. Thinking—thinking overly—does not help in a situation like this.
The doctors came to me after a long wait to tell me that I had contracted Covid-19. His professional attitude was most irritating at that moment.
“You might have been infected with Covid-19,” he told me. The hospitals in the United States had run out of test kits, he said. “But I suggest you to stay home in isolation and not go around. You’ll be fine.”
I could neither laugh nor cry. I began losing sleep by the day.
But then I figured the importance of health advice. If one can keep inside, in isolation, there is a certain level of safety in the community. And if one gets good medical attention, Covid-19 can be handled well.
I got to hell and back, so to speak.
Being home is a special feeling I cannot express. Lockdown and travel bans were happening everywhere. I wanted to return home and am among the lucky few who could do so early. When I saw the landscapes from my country from the Drukair’s window, I found myself crying like a little baby.
The preparedness that I saw immediately after landing at Paro International Airport made me feel that I had made the right decision to return home. In my experience, no other nation was alert and prepared like Bhutan.
When the US and other countries are still struggling with whether to quarantine or not, Bhutan had already made her decision. Anyone flying into the country would be quarantined because Bhutan did not have, still does not have, a local Covid-19 positive case.
Right after arriving in Thimphu, officials from health ministry contacted me to tell me that everything was taken care of and that I should not worry about anything. My family members were informed too.
Where do you get this kind of care and support? Every individual in the country was going out of his or her way to help the government to tackle the pandemic. This gave me strength to fight the disease. I did my best as a citizen—followed health advisories and kept myself awake and active.
Why am I telling my story? Is it even important?
It is. I need to tell my story because I know it best. I am now clean I have tested negative. But I cannot celebrate this achievement alone, like this. I must educate the people and warn them of the imminent dangers.
What Covid-19 is and can do to us, we do not know clearly yet. We can only take care of ourselves and our community. Listen to health advice. This alone can ensure safety for all but we must act each individually for the common good. That is the only way we have to fight the disease.
Chimi Y Tshogyal
Fifth COVID-19 Patient