Posted by Lockdown Voices, New Delhi
“He promptly, did a video call from his cellphone and made both of us see and speak to each other. Throughout my life, I shall be ever thankful to Sanjay for giving that minuscule glimpse of Subhankar… never knew then that very hour would be the last one with my husband.” Rupali Dhar Choudhary fondly and with heartfelt gratitude remembers Sanjay.
Twenty-two years old Sanjay Kumar is from village Sariyana in district Fatehabad, Haryana. After completing his 12th grade, Sanjay pursued a year-long Health Inspector programme. Without burdening his parents, he self-financed his education. He became a part time contractor supplying iron rods in construction sites. He did his training in RMC hospital and subsequently worked in Jindal hospital.
Rupali reminisces the first day when Sanjay, without any anxiety, question or even a PPE kit, entered the high-risk COVID ward, to take care of her husband. It was a challenging task for Rupali to find a caregiver who would look after and provide comfort to Subhankar. He had been in and out of the hospital several times but never without her beside his bedside. This time she had also tested COVID positive.
Sanjay was very keen to do an Operation Theatre (OT) course but needed money. During the pandemic, he first came down to Delhi to work and earn his course fees. With his past hospital experiences, he took up the job of an attendant to patients over the next few months including four with COVID.
Rupali feels Sanjay came as a boon on 8th May 2021. Within limitations and restrictions of the hospital, he showed exemplary efficiency. Rupali remembers how promptly “he made a check list, noted all important call logs and tried to understand his patient. He was looking sorted within a couple of hours. His regular intervention with doctors through texting or calling them and then updating me on progress or any need, was truly appreciable.”
Sanjay was round the clock with Subhankar. He took care of him as his own kin and always tried to keep his spirits high. Sanjay shares that he gets involved with his patients and feels cheated if a patient dies. He was shattered when Subhankar didn’t make it. After taking care of Subhankar, Sanjay realized he could not continue taking care of COVID patients as he was on the verge of breaking down himself.
Twenty-five years old Jasdeep feels the same as Sanjay. COVID care of patients is not everybody’s cup of tea. Other than the uncertain outcome, patient care really needs patience in abundance. The job requires mental strength to be calm. Jasdeep feels COVID patient tend to be irritable. It is a tough to simultaneously manage their temper, oxygen saturation and blood pressure. It is over days one bonds with them.
Amid the raging pandemic, Debika Mitra was surprised to see a carefree youngster with a gym bag coming down the hospital staircase. It was Jasdeep. He had been put on roll as an attendant for her comatose aunt for the next 5 days. With his eagerness to note down the details of the case, the clouds of doubt that had gathered at seeing an apparently casual Jasdeep disappeared.
Jasdeep Singh Sarao hails from a farmer family in village Dehla, District Sangrur, Punjab. He has done 3 years GNM programme from Paramedical college, Mohali. After passing out in 2017, he worked in Tohana Trauma Centre in Haryana.
Early March 2020, Jasdeep engaged himself in farming as his family was reluctant that he works during the pandemic. A few months into lockdown, his curiosity to know and learn about COVID-19 brought him to Delhi. Till date, he has taken care of twenty-four COVID-19 patients in hospital as well as home care set up.
While in the hospital, Jasdeep kept Debika updated on her aunt’s status. On the third day, at 11 am he called her to inform that her aunt was no more. Donning the role of a guardian angel, he advised them not to rush but eat and come. Before Debika and her brother arrived, Jasdeep had done all the fact finding about the hearse van and formalities to take the body to the crematorium.
Jasdeep as well as Sanjay have attended funerals and witnessed last rites of their patients. They mourn with the dear ones of those gone. It also gives a sense of closure to their responsibilities. But deep within they are sad, upset and helpless. Jasdeep’s face lights up when he recounts some of his wonderful experiences.
The experiences with recovered patients have been happy and fulfilling. Jasdeep’s recent favourite is Mr Akhil Jain with whom he has recently become very close. Jasdeep tended Mr Jain for 10 days when he was shifted home after his hospital stay. He became family within this short time span.
Mr Jain is grateful for the intense care and pain-relieving massages that Jasdeep gave him. His timely intervention with medicines and lung exercises helped him recover from COVID-19. His son Chaitanya has taken to Jasdeep as a role model for fitness and even picked up at bit of massaging. Mr Jain’s wife Shalu treats him as her younger brother.
These new forged bonds and memories motivate Sanjay and Jasdeep. Sanjay, yet to be vaccinated, believes a mask, gloves (when the patient is serious) and a timely balanced diet suffices to keep him fit and safe from any disease. He has never been in a PPE kit in his life. On the contrary, Jasdeep is vaccinated and wears a PPE kit when needed. Far away from home, with pride, both Jasdeep and Sanjay continue to meet the demands of their profession, risk their lives to save many more.
Cover Image: Indian Express
Story Images: Team LV
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