What happens when Doctors get fever? Are all fevers Corona, especially as at the time of writing this we in the throes of a pandemic caused by SARS-COV 2 also known as COVID-19 or the Corona virus, affecting the entire world since over 7 months?
I am Dr Mathew S P, 50, a MD Physician in private practice since 1996. I have my OPD and rounds at Ashok One Hospital in North Mumbai, India. As it is a Multi-Specialty non-COVID Hospital, we treat all medical, surgical, and orthopedic cases and of various other specialties. Since March 2020, at times we have had to admit a few suspected cases [in isolation units] who were critical, stabilize them and refer them, after confirming their diagnosis, to COVID care centers designated by the Municipal authorities, as these centers do not admit cases without a confirmed diagnosis. As I had been working nonstop at the front lines, I often wished that I would get a break, and rightly so I did get a break, in a most unexpected [to others] way!
Onset and progress:
On Wednesday the 2nd of September 2020 I noticed head heaviness and a flu like feeling, took a Paracetamol. On the 3rd as I was returning home from work in the evening, I was feeling sick. By 10 PM I had high fever, body pain and was feeling terrible.
I isolated myself in my bedroom, drank plenty of fluids, and kept a chart of my temperature, pulse and spo2 levels. My fever started rising as you can see in the fever chart below. I was watching my body closely for any other signs but apart from muscle cramps when I tried to bend, there were none.
I could identify with the thoughts that go on in the mind of patients. The C word comes to mind immediately whenever anyone has fever. C for Corona!
As I often counsel my patients, your mind is like your house. There is a door to the house that is closed. Unless you permit, no one can enter your house physically. You have the power to choose, to decide whom to allow inside. It is exactly the same with your mind. What thoughts do you allow inside? I will give you a tip at the end that has really helped me.
I chose to think of C for Christ instead. The only one who defeated sin and death by his substitutionary sacrifice on the cross for my sins, and then coming back to life, because He was sinless. Death had no power over Him. I have known Jesus Christ in a real way in my heart since many years, and it was only by leaning on Christ that I was able to survive these difficult days, I must confess. If not, my mind would have been flooded with thoughts like “What if this is Corona? I will develop all sorts of complications! I may end up on a ventilator, etc etc”
Charting of vital parameters
As a medical professional I am used to recording vital parameters of the human body and I continued to do so for myself.
I recorded my fever diligently.
My heart rate was also tracked by the Fitbit Versa 2 which I wear 24X7
As you can see my heart rate also remained high for almost 48 hours, the entire time I had fever. Of course, my smart watch is not so smart, it thought I was doing fat burn or cardio all the time!
Investigations and Treatment
I rested and thanked God that He has designed my immune system in such a way that it knows the best way to handle this infection, which I was not able to diagnose. I made sure that I was well hydrated. I took a vitamin supplement and had a predominantly liquid and soft diet. My wife took good care of me I must say!
My role was and is always to have a heart that is filled with faith [in the living God who has created me and in whom I could fully trust to do what was needed] and gratitude for the amazing gift of life that He has given me.
I rested in this and knew that whatever happens, I am in the best hands.
As a medical Doctor I knew the protocols for managing fever and hence did the required blood tests on the first day itself from Jariwala Labs who came for a home visit. The reports were all within normal limits. So, I did not take any other medication, except Paracetamol thrice, whenever my fever went above 102 and I was having body aches.
After 48 hours, on Sunday the 6th of September 2020 I woke up afebrile! The fever was gone, and I was feeling fresh and had a good appetite. Since then I have not had any fever at all.
I am grateful to all my friends at the Church that I am a part of for praying for me and I believe that faith is vital for the process of healing. However, I did not know what the diagnosis was. I thought it could have been a flu.
On Monday the 7th of September I was active and went for some personal work. Then I got to know that my neighbors have already been diagnosed to be positive for COVID-19. I learnt later that 6 people in the apartment next-door were positive.
I was planning to resume work on Tuesday the 8th of September, as I felt that I had taken more than enough of leave! Since the blood tests did not reveal the diagnosis, the BMC Doctor recommended that I get my COVID Rapid Antigen testing done, which came positive.
Quarantine and progress:
COVID positive. Many thoughts went through my mind. I home quarantined for a period of two weeks, I continued to take rest and cut down on my work, doing limited video consultations.
My activities are always tracked and here is the graph of the same.
I was feeling a bit fatigued. I lost 50% of my smell sensation around the 10th of September, and it returned gradually over a week. I continued with a Vitamin supplement which caused a great deal of hunger! I found that I gained two kilos by the end of my quarantine!
I repeated my blood tests from Clinilabs after a week and they were all normal, including the markers for COVID activity like CRP etc.
I also did the Rapid Antigen test again on the 21st of September 2020 at a camp organised by the BMC at our Hospital, thanks to Dr Madhavi from R North ward, and that was negative also. All my staff also tested themselves and were negative.
I must commend the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai for the efforts they are taking despite limited manpower to screen people for the virus.
After my RAT [Rapid Antigen test] came negative, I also did my HRCT Chest at Vcare which was also normal. I am incredibly grateful to God for this.
After 4 weeks were completed, I did my COVID Antibody IgG test which showed that I have good levels of IgG antibodies. So, my immune system has successfully overcome the attack by the Corona virus on my body.
I also tested antibody levels of patients who had Corona in May 2020 and was happy to note that their antibody levels remain high even 5 months later.
Our bodies are wonderfully designed to protect us from all pathogens.
I thank my Creator for the amazing ways in which He designs our immune systems, just raising the temperature to destroy pathogens. And the various other defense mechanisms that work without us knowing.
That is why I did not try to bring down the fever. It remained above 101 F for almost 48 hours [even after taking Paracetamol which I took three times in 2 days only because I was having body pain] and then started dropping.
Our immune systems are amazingly complex and medical science still does not fully understand how it works. So please, be positive. Rest, and just allow your body to do its work.
I have also seen patients who fear and tremble at the word Corona. Let me reassure you here that the Corona Virus is harmless to THE MAJORITY of healthy individuals.
There is something much more dangerous than the Corona virus. It is called Fear!
Fear can paralyse your immune systems, or make them react in very abnormal ways.
As I have noticed repeatedly in my experience as a clinician over the decades, fear attacks all parts of the human body. In the cardiovascular system it increases the likelihood of heart attacks and hypertension. In the nervous system, it can lead to an increased risk for strokes, anxiety, and depression. It also increases the levels of adrenaline and cortisol in the body, leading to decreased immunity and insulin resistance, which is a predisposing factor in Diabetes.
The cytokine or bradykinin storm that is released in some cases of Corona are all the result of the immune system malfunctioning.
What can you do?
I believe in the simple fact that God made me, and that He has designed me wonderfully. If you choose to believe in this fact, your heart will be filled with faith, and love. There will be no room for fear.
Know the facts about the virus, but do not over do it. Half knowledge is deadly.
There is no need to take any unnecessary medications unless recommended by a qualified Medical Doctor.
Follow your healthcare Practioners advice. I was in touch with our team of Internal Medicine and Chest Medicine specialists, Dr Neelesh Kamath and Dr Parthiv Shah and kept updating them about my vitals and investigations. Please avoid alternative therapies, most of them are unproven and cause undesirable side effects.
I want to leave you with this encouragement and exhortation:
‘Finally, dear, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. ‘ Philippians 4:8
And do you know what will happen then?
‘Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.
And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. ‘
I have experienced this peace in a way I cannot fully explain. It is real and has enabled me to overcome Corona.