Being on the other side

– Dr. Manasi Rege

COVID is like Cupid. You can never predict whom it
will strike next. And once it does, it doesn’t fade out of
life so easily. We all knew of COVID in January as the
deadly disease Wuhan was dealing with. By March,
it was global and by May, we were in the middle of
a hotspot. But unlike a storm or a terrorist attack, it
wasn’t a visible threat so most people pretend as if it
doesn’t exist… till it actually happens to them.
I was having my medicine posting in internship. I was
happy that this tiring post was finally coming to an
end. I attended the last casualty and went home when
I heard a shocking news. One of my co-interns had
tested positive. The resident suggested that we all get
tested. Yet I reassured myself that I shall be fine. But
life doesn’t listen to reassurances. It just happens. 3
days later, the microbiology department called me and
said those 4 deadly words,
“You have tested positive!”
If life was a Bollywood movie, the phone would have
slipped from my hands. Instead I just sat there.
Eventually I mustered up courage to tell my family.
More than myself I was worried about them as 2 of
my family members came in the high risk category.
After having enquired about a bed in one of the COVID
hospitals that come under the realm of my medical
college, I packed my bags with a heavy heart.
The next day the Municipality sealed my floor and an
ambulance took me to the hospital. The next thing I
found was that there were no beds available. A few
phone calls later, I got a bed in the doctors room of yet
another peripheral hospital of my medical college. And
as I went there I saw it. The bed was there… but in a
general ward. Due to lack of beds I had to settle for the
one in the general ward. Yet the bed was away from
the rest. But my problem had just begun. The toilets
were ridiculously dirty. I couldn’t take a bath for 3 days.
The food was almost inedible. I realized that I had
underestimated the problems that my own patients
faced. They bore all these bad facilities without a
single complaint.
3 days later I got a call from the CMO. They had
converted an OPD into a doctor’s ward. I immediately
shifted there. That had better food and better facilities.
When I went there, the ward wasn’t much occupied.
But in the span of 5 days that I was there, I saw it fill up
rapidly with doctors and interns and nurses. The CMO
who arranged this entire facility too, eventually got
But in all this chaos, I had my friends who kept check‐
ing on me and helped me to the best of their ability.
And just like some people turn up like angels in bad
times, some residents and acquaintances stood by me
when I honestly didn’t expect them to considering that
we had just known each other for a short while.
After spending around 9 days in the hospital, I heard
those 4 words that my ears ached to hear,
“You have
tested negative. ” I went back to the comfort of my
home, back to my family. Although I had to be in home
quarantine, my family and I finally felt at peace.
As a medical student and now as a doctor, I have
experienced life as a healer. I’ve had my own struggle
in the profession. But this event made me realize that
being a patient comes with it’s own problems. And
now that I’ve seen life from both sides, my empathy
towards my patients has just grown ever since. After
all a doctor is not someone who just knows about the
pain, but actually knows the pain.
As narrated to Dr. Manasi Rege

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