The death was not a result that Raj, 55, was willing to accept – but he knew his father’s chances of surviving the coronavirus were not in his favor.
“I’m not a bettor, but if I were … [I would] I definitely put my money on it to make it happen, “Suri’s family doctor, general practitioner Dr. Bharat Thacker, told CNN.
The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 219,000 people worldwide, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
But the official death toll is largely made up of patients who died in intensive care or other hospital departments. The number of people who have died in the community – many in their own homes or care homes – is often underreported.
As he helped Suri go to bed after arriving home from Watford General Hospital on the outskirts of London, Raj wondered if the desperate series of events that had seen the virus spread around the world would transform his father in another statistic.
Raj, director of insight into an advertising agency, remained outwardly positive: “You’re not going to die. We’re going to take care of you here, ”he said to his father. What he didn’t know was how successful he would be.
Raj, who recovered from a heart attack last November, was ready for the pandemic weeks before isolation began in the UK on March 23. He was self-isolated with his 80-year-old mother and his father, who suffers from chronic illnesses. obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) since March 11 because the entire household was considered to be at high risk for coronavirus.
But his father’s condition started to deteriorate on March 25. Suri’s 10-minute daily walk outside the family home turned into a 45-minute lag. His lung condition was skyrocketing. He looked tired, listless and – although he did not display the high temperature or persistent cough, which the NHS considered to be the main symptoms of the virus – Raj suspected that his father had Covid-19.
Unbeknownst to the family, Suri’s lungs were filling with fluid – a fact that was spotted by paramedics called to the family’s home the next day when the octogenarian was having trouble breathing.
He was taken to hospital, but the doctors called Raj soon after. He said they told him they were 95% sure that Suri had the virus, but that they wanted to send him back and send him home.
Raj says that a senior consultant told him that if Suri’s condition worsened, they would not ventilate him “because he felt that his lungs, with … COPD, would not be able to manage it.”
CNN contacted Watford General Hospital to comment on the Suri case, but received no response. CNN saw Suri’s exit sheet, which includes a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) order that was filled out upon admission.
Ventilation can save lives, but even on a regular basis, health care professionals warn that being admitted to intensive care does not guarantee recovery for older patients.
Raj said he had two choices left: “Do I keep him there and may never see him again, or do I take him home and spend all my energy to make him comfortable for him? He chose the latter, even at the risk of spreading the infection throughout the household.
Before Suri returned home to Watford – in a local taxi because there was no ambulance available to move him – Raj spent the afternoon cleaning the house, isolating his mother downstairs ground floor and transforming his parents’ first floor bedroom into a makeshift hospital.
With little medical knowledge or advice from the hospital on how to deliver palliative care, Raj did what he did best: collecting and analyzing data. He created a Google spreadsheet to help track his father’s temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation readings – vital values that could be measured with a store-bought thermometer, blood pressure monitor, and pulse oximeter. .
To limit the time Raj spent in the bedroom, an iPad was installed with a baby monitor application. This allowed the rest of his close-knit family to help, giving Raj’s brother Manish, who lives in the United States, and his sons, who live close to their mothers, the opportunity to check on Suri, which l helped relieve his loneliness in isolation. It also meant that they could take turns watching him when Raj needed to rest.
The strategist also turned to a family friend, a general practitioner, for advice. The general practitioner advised hydration of Suri and kept a trace of his vital signs on the Google spreadsheet.
Raj says the key factor in treating his father may have been the fact that their home was already equipped with continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, for Suri’s sleep apnea.
“When Dad’s breathing got worse, I was advised to use the machine,” he said, explaining that when his father’s condition was most severe, the device – which helps patients to breathe easier – was used up to 16 hours a day on the advice of the doctor.
Three days after his release, Suri was delirious, had trouble eating and told Raj that he thought he was close to the end. Raj thinks it’s because his brain was starved of oxygen.
The next day, Dr. Thacker called with the news that the Suri coronavirus test came back positive. At the time, many British general practitioners like Thacker were having trouble getting full personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a long robe and gloves.
Without PPE, it was not safe for Thacker to visit home patients with coronaviruses like Suri. “If I went there and got it, not only my family is in danger, but my patients too if I go back to surgery,” he told CNN.
Instead, he checked the Google spreadsheet and recommended an antibiotic for a secondary lung infection that Suri had developed. The general practitioner also advised helping Suri lie on his stomach for several hours a day – a practice known as prone positioning. Doctors have found that placing the sickest coronavirus patients on their stomachs can help increase the amount of oxygen entering their lungs.
Knowing the gravity of Suri’s condition, Thacker said that a DNR notice had been issued for the family’s address so that the paramedics sent there did not know how to resuscitate the man, because “the result is going to be pretty bad. “
Fortunately, it was not necessary. Under the watchful eye of her son, Suri gradually began to recover. Raj says he knew his father was on the road to recovery when he got strong enough to harass him. “He started to moan and said his tea was badly made. Then he asked for pizza and fries, ”said Raj.
Eventually, Suri got the green light, and last week, he walked along his garden using a zimmer frame or a walker – inspired by Captain Tom Moore, the veteran centenary British war that brought Raised millions of pounds for the National Health Service in the UK by walking 100 rounds of his garden.
“We really had an action and” go-to “team that I trusted,” said Raj, adding that he didn’t have to trust “Dr. Google” because he had real doctors nearby to help.
He said he appreciates that he and his father are in a more privileged position than many in the United Kingdom, where the virus disproportionately affects black communities and ethnic minorities.
Thacker, who has killed a number of Covid-19 patients, says he can’t pinpoint what worked for Suri.
“Whether it was the family taking care of him, or the available bio-data that made the difference – we don’t know,” he said, adding, “Maybe it was just luck and not quite its time. “
In the darkest moments, sometimes a plan of action and a little luck are the only things people have.