With the COVID-19 pandemic scare, while people from most countries have already gone into isolation, the death toll is still going up.

Some people experience mild symptoms, and a few others can be asymptomatic. People who really show full-blown symptoms have no other option left, but to be hospitalized and unfortunately, I am one of those patients.

I live in the city of New York, which is the worst hit by the coronavirus, and thousands of people have lost their lives because of it. Ideally, I should have locked myself in my home from the month of March when the graph of infected people was only becoming steeper, but I am a single father of two boys, 8 and 12 years old. I had to work to put food on the dining table.

I work as a hairdresser in a salon down the street, next to my home. I took precautions of using a mask and washing my hands several times a day. That is the reason I believed that I could not contract the virus. On a usual day, our salon is quite busy but since the pandemic scare, the salon has seen a decrease in the footfall. This convinced me more that I was not in that much danger.

It all started during the first week of March when I was experiencing a bit of throat infection. I convinced myself for a day or two that it was just the symptoms of the common cold that will subside on its own in 3-4 days. I started to panic when fever added to my list of symptoms. I had read in all online articles that cough with fever is the initial symptoms of this virus.

When I visited the hospital, the staffs were reluctant to bring me in and suggested I isolate myself in my home. As I had two kids at home, I had to call my sister to take care of them while I isolated myself in my house. For a week I had these basic symptoms and could manage alone, hence, it seemed as if I just had a normal viral fever. This changed on day 10 when I felt sicker, was struggling to walk, and had some breathing issues. I had never experienced this in my entire life, which made me panic. It was scary to be alone and not know if I am going to stop breathing. I had pain in my back and ribs but somehow managed to call in the ambulance. As I was literally gasping for air, they immediately put me on oxygen.

I was admitted to an isolation ward and the swab sample was taken for the COVID-19 test. It did not matter as I knew I had contracted the virus. And the results confirmed that I was COVID-19 positive with pneumonia in my lungs, I was isolated in a room for a week with many safety restrictions. No one was allowed to visit me except for the hospital staff who would wear the entire protection gear before attending me.

It was a dark time, as I felt alone and depressed with not much human contact. When I struggled to breathe sometimes or had to go to the toilet, I would buzz for help but had to wait for the staff to gear up before they could help me. Thankfully, I had my phone and was constantly in touch with my family and kids to keep me calm. I thanked the almighty that my kids did not have any symptoms of the virus. This kept me strong.

When I was discharged after 10 days, my sister and I drove back to my house with our face masks on, I opened the window to breathe the fresh air that felt so good. This suddenly made me appreciate small things in life.

My sister shifted to my home to take care of me, but I was asked to isolate myself in a room, away from the family for some time. I still have a dry cough, and it could last a few months. As suggested by my doctor, getting an ultrasonic humidifier for my room has helped me stay comfortable and soothed the dryness in my throat.

If you are young like me and assume that you are invincible against the virus, then think again. This is a serious virus that can take a major toll on your health, or worst case, kill you. Isolation is the only way you can protect yourself until there is a vaccine in the market. Maintain social distance to stay safe.