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'I seemed to have a piece of meat, not a throat': five stories of people who recovered from COVID-19

How does it feel to see only doctors and a courier in a month of quarantine? Isn't it scary to get infected again? Is it hard to prepare breakfast after an illness? What to read in the hospital? Why did the wife get infected, but the mother-in-law did not? Correspondents of the edition with the BBC talked to five people who had had COVID-19 and were already discharged from hospitals.

Photo: Shutterstock

"We'll have to, as in the 90s, go to play in the transition"

Like many Russians, until March 2020, a sixty-year-old music teacher, Muscovite Igor P., knew almost nothing about the coronavirus.

“So, I read something in the media, I knew common signs - fever, cough, nothing more,” he says.

Then, the man recalls, they wrote mainly about the prevention of the disease: "Not as fiercely and fiercely as now."

Igor considered himself a “hopelessly healthy person”: he swam three kilometers in the pool four times a week and monitored his health. True, he smoked.

In early March, his temperature rose sharply - up to 38,5 degrees. Then the thermometer showed 39 degrees, a cough quickly appeared, his chest felt tight, and it became difficult for Igor to breathe. For three days he lay at home, was treated with "improvised and pedestrian means" and drank the antibiotic that his wife gave him.

“Then I decided - I’m good, I, of course, don’t like to be sick, but there is a full guard here, something urgently needs to be done. I called an ambulance. They say to me: "Put a cold compress on your forehead and lie down."

I called again: “You know, guys, there is clearly not enough cold cloth, come on, come”. Have arrived. We listened. They say: "You have bronchitis." They injected analgin, ”recalls Igor.

He did not think that he might have Covid-19 then: “I did not contact anyone who came from abroad, did not communicate with patients with coronavirus. But our school is commercial, my children and I study music in a separate class, and the children with their last strength, with fever and snot crawl to the ground - because their parents paid. I was recently told that two more teachers at the school fell ill with fever - I don't know what they have. "

After the injection of analgin, which the ambulance doctors injected Igor, the music teacher felt better. “I think I haven't done fluorography for twenty years - I have to do it. I did it for a fee just in case, although the temperature was normal. And after the fluorography I was told: “Eh, boy, you have pneumonia,” he recalls. With a picture in his hands, Igor called an ambulance again - and he was immediately taken to the hospital.

On the subject: All you wanted to know about coronavirus but were embarrassed to ask: WHO answers

At the hospital, he was amazed that all seven floors in the building were occupied by patients with pneumonia: “I'm used to having a cardiology department, a urology department. And here - all the wards for five people, all with pneumonia. I am an unpretentious person, I don't care how many people are in the ward, it's hard to scare me, but such a number of pulmonary patients is strange. When I was admitted to the admission department, they told me: "Bilateral viral pneumonia" and took the first smear - for coronavirus. "

For six days Igor was put on IVs and injected with penicillin: “I was already feeling fine when the doctor came and said:“ Your test is negative, but we cannot let you go by the new order, we need to take a second smear ”. And took a second swab.

Until the end of March, Igor, according to his own description, was in the hospital just like that. Penicillin helped, he began to breathe freely, there was no cough, temperature - too. Slowly Igor began to leave the building for a smoke and noticed a strange thing - the hospital square, on which he was initially allowed to walk, was tightened around the perimeter with protective tapes. Sometimes in the hospital they died - mostly elderly people.

After a couple of days, they were only allowed to walk on the porch, then everyone was completely forbidden to leave the wards. At the end of March, doctors told Igor that his second test for coronavirus had been lost, and the test for Covid-19 had to be taken again. “We took the third smear. It seems like it was on Tuesday. I waited two days, on Thursday I say to the doctor: “Discharge me, please, under my responsibility, home. Every day you have new ones brought in, all night long the cough lasts until the morning, all the lungs ”.

“I knew that it was necessary to tear from there, at least with a carcass, at least with a scarecrow,” Igor explains. - It has already become clear that half of the hospital is with coronavirus. And the nurses all the time walked in special clothes, like the Martians, in rustling white suits. Round the clock, like moon walkers, they ran, sparing themselves, like bees. There is only one young doctor for all 40 wards - I don't know, I didn't go home at all, all the time in the hospital. A good woman, attentive - I would say smiling, but you will not see a smile under the mask ”.

The smiling doctor discharged Igor home - under the obligation to self-isolate for two weeks. And she added that the results of the latest study will be communicated to him by phone.

“And so I came home, happy, confident that everything is fine with me now. No fever, no cough, I am healthy as a bull, I can break dimes. I went to the store - in gloves, a muzzle, glasses and a hood, ”Igor recalls.

Then he went for a walk with the dog, and on the weekend with his son went to the dacha - something needed to be pinned. And on Monday they called: "Your test for coronavirus is positive."

Then the “fun with the doctors” began at home, recalls the music teacher.

“They were running around me in spacesuits, jumping, taking tests from the whole family for coronavirus. It turned out that my wife hooked me, they found her. And the mother-in-law who lives with us did not get infected at all. Although this is very strange, ”says Igor.

His wife took the disease easily - a sore throat for a couple of days. But Igor is worried that he could infect his son because of a trip to the dacha: “I call him every day. I am terribly ashamed and uncomfortable in front of him, although at the dacha we were on different parts of the site, and I was in the casing, that is, in a mask. I tried not to breathe on him. "

After a positive test, Igor began to observe quarantine honestly. Food was brought to him by the neighbors under the door. Now he has already two fresh negative tests, and from April 9 he can go out.

Igor says that although he is already healthy, I don’t want to get infected a second time.

“I don’t know, I can probably grab it a second time. Then, no one knows the consequences of this case. I went out with the dog for a walk, it became very bad. This is an unusual state of weakness - I walk with an uncertain gait, ”says Igor.

The music school in which he worked is closed. The bosses could not decide what to do with the students during the quarantine - some were for distance learning, some were against. He himself has no idea how to teach music remotely, and therefore told his students: “Guys, wait. When they open it, I will pay all the debts. ”

But he even has a plan for what to do if the school is closed.

“We’ll have to go to play in the transition, as in the 90s. This is not the worst thing: it’s fun, you communicate with people, ”jokes Igor.

“I was released on receipt. Then everything is on my conscience "

37-year-old oncologist Anton Usov works in a private hospital near Moscow.

This clinic is for wealthy patients: calling an ambulance - 22 thousand rubles ($ 300), blood group analysis - 3000 rubles ($ 40), an intensive care unit - 50 thousand per day ($ 680).

In mid-March, a pensioner in serious condition was admitted to the hospital, who was immediately connected to a ventilator, whose son, who had recently returned from France, often came to inquire about his health. As Anton's colleagues recall, the man knew that he had to comply with quarantine, but explained to the doctors as follows: “And I have a quarantine: a shop and a hospital.” His wife and mother were ill at home with severe flu symptoms at the time. He came to the hospital without a mask, visitors were allowed there at any time.

Fines and arrests violating self-isolation were not yet threatened.

“We understood everything even without tests,” Anton recalls. "I knew I was going to get sick, it was a matter of time." He and his wife sent the schoolchildren to their friends in the village and waited.

One day in the evening, the doctor had a fever, a cough. On March 30, on Saturday, Anton, who was rarely ill, had a fever of up to 39,5 degrees. When it became difficult to breathe, he called an ambulance.

On Sunday morning, the oncologist was already in the intensive care unit of the infectious diseases hospital on a ventilator. With him lay another 10 people - all with suspected coronavirus.

Anton says that lying under the ventilator is not so scary, although he had not had to do this before.

“Well, I know how it happens, I know it's not so scary,” the oncologist recalls.

Anton was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia of viral origin. After four days in intensive care, he was transferred to a separate ward.

“The oxygen content in the blood drops sharply, the lungs cannot cope,” he explains how the disease goes away. - There is a lot of intoxication in the blood, this is a severe virus. The whole body aches constantly, it is a very unpleasant condition ”.

The temperature at the doctor lasted more than a week. A positive coronavirus test came only on the seventh day of illness.

At the hospital, Anton read and slept. It was impossible to leave the ward; the doctor came once a day.

“It added to the experience. For example, it was clear after repeated CT that my lungs began to clear, but I learned about it only after three days. Two days of nerves, ”Anton recalls.

He was released on April 7 against a receipt that he would not communicate with anyone.

“In theory, I should be followed. Before being discharged, they had to put a program on the phone to determine the geographical position and take a picture so that the cameras would recognize me on the streets of the city. None of this was done. The paper was filled in and that's it. A little formal attitude to work, of course. Then everything is on my conscience. I want to - I walk around the city, I want - I don't, ”says the oncologist.

He will do repeated tests for Covid-19 himself next week: “The virus is removed from the body for about two weeks, while you are positive, you cannot be socially active.” The second time, the doctor laughs, it is either possible or impossible to get infected.

“There are many different strains of coronavirus in the world right now. Chinese and European are biochemically different. There is not enough data on reinfection yet. But I'm not afraid, and the first time I was not afraid to get sick. I understood that this would happen one way or another. This virus is too highly contagious - that is, it is very easily transmitted - and we have no immunity. Everyone will get sick with it, young and old, now or later. The meaning of quarantine is that not everything is in a crowd, so that there is enough mechanical ventilation for all those who are hard to bear, ”the oncologist explains.

The oncologist's wife also became infected - but she carries the coronavirus easier, she is treated at home. Usov did not lose his position at the clinic, but lost most of his salary, having spent almost a month on sick leave. As soon as he gets two negative tests, he will go to the hospital to see the patients.

“To be honest, I really want to go to work,” the doctor smiles.

“Imagine, I do the cleaning myself”

On February 23, 2020, the husband of pianist Basinia Shulman flew to Moscow from Bergamo. An amateur football player David Berov flew with him on one flight - on March 2, he became the first Russian patient to have a coronavirus.

On the same day, two ambulance doctors in protective overalls, masks and glasses entered the apartment of Basinia.

“I was surprised we were all asleep. We were told that my husband flew with an infected person and we all need to quarantine until March 7 - just two weeks from February 23, after conditional contact. We signed papers that we have no right to leave the apartment. My husband, me and my son were tested for coronavirus, they turned out to be negative. That is, we were healthy, smears were negative, so the quarantine ended on March 7, and we healed as usual, ”says Shulman.

She returned to rehearsals with the 150-piece Cinematography Orchestra. To play, she, according to her, walked as protected as possible: “My friends laughed at me. I think I am the most disciplined person of all my acquaintances, who, fortunately, did not get sick. I wore gloves, a mask and glasses. ”

On March 21, Basinia organized an online concert “Music Against Coronavirus”.

“There were musicians from five countries - for example, a saxophonist from Italy, who had been in isolation for a month at that time. My friend from France played - also in quarantine. You see, all musicians lost their jobs abruptly. Almost no one has airbags with rare exceptions. In addition to earning money, people have lost the opportunity to express themselves creatively, and this is also important. That concert was watched by 2 people, which is more than in the Great Hall of the Conservatory, ”Shulman is proud.

Three days later, she herself became ill with a coronavirus.

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“My temperature rose very sharply, at one point - up to 38. Then my whole body was twisted. All this happened in 2 hours. No more manifestations - no cough, no runny nose.

Shulman was treated by an infectious disease specialist at Madina Andean First City Hospital.

“When it hit me, I wrote to her on WhatsApp. Madina is an amazing doctor, a deep bow to her, she pulled us out. On March 25, she sent a therapist to us, nurses in protective suits came to us, and again, like after Berov, they took tests for coronavirus, which this time showed a positive result, ”the pianist says.

She had no panic. According to Shulman's recollections, in that state she had no thoughts at all: “You are covered with a terrible weakness and sleep. I slept twenty hours. ”

Andean has developed an individual treatment plan for Shulman: drink plenty of hot water and monitor breathing.

“You lie and cannot get up, this disease consumes all forces. For the first five days I lay alone in a room behind closed doors. My husband and son put five-liter bottles of water under the door, and I have a thermos with a five-liter dispenser in my bedroom. I crawled to the door, somehow poured a five-liter bottle into the thermopot, then somehow I poured myself water. They also put honey, lemon and ginger under my door - when I was strong, I added it to my drink, ”explains Shulman.

She monitored her breathing and quickly realized that she breathes best when she sleeps on her stomach. Five days later, the temperature subsided, but on the same day her husband and son fell ill. Now she and her twenty-year-old son put five-liter bottles under the door of her husband's room. His illness followed the same scenario - aches in all muscles and a high temperature. The son, says Basinia, survived the disease the easiest - a few days of a temperature of 37,3 degrees and a superficial cough.

“Thank God, none of us had pneumonia, breathing problems. We were allowed to be treated at home because we were considered relatively mild patients. And we were very lucky that we were light, ”she adds.

Schulman's retest was negative, but until the test is done again, the whole family is in quarantine. According to Basinia, for many years all the housework was done by her assistant, who now cannot come to them. The food is prepared by her son, a food blogger, the garbage from the door is taken by the cleaning lady who washes the common guarded entrance. Once a week, an assistant puts food under the door.

“Imagine, I do the cleaning myself,” Basinia says. - I remembered what I did many years ago - I vacuum and dust and clean. For the full program. This, of course, was when the strength appeared, because for ten days there was no strength at all. "

Four Moscow concerts have been postponed until October, foreign tours have been canceled, and Schulman has no plans for the future: “I am an absolutely real person, but I am sure that the Universe wants to tell me something. You see, how it turns out - twice I got under this, it means something. Well, my husband was flying on the plane, well, he was not hooked, although he could, but all of us were covered a second time. What can you plan here at all ?! ”

“Count on a month right away. Better to sit at home than the same time in the hospital with a blue backside from injections. "

February 27, Vladimir Chernyadiev removed the last tooth of wisdom.

While there was an open wound in its place, the 34-year-old photographer drank pain pills, refused the antibiotics prescribed by the dentist: “When the previous three teeth were removed, I did without them, and now I decided not to eat them again. Probably, if I did drink antibiotics, then there would be no pneumonia ... Those pills are used for its treatment. But since I love self-medication ... ”

Vladimir worked, met with friends who had recently returned from Italy. Usually he traveled a lot around the city: "I am a photographer, I have so many meetings at work all the time, I could talk to a thousand people." While the tooth ached, I spent more time at home. Soon I noticed a rapid pulse and a slight fever.

Then a cough began: "Well, cough and cough, as usual, I often had bronchitis, I didn't even pay attention." As a result, the cough turned into choking: “I could not speak, I could not finish the phrase”. But Chernyadyev still did not go to the doctor: “I generally try not to go to the doctors. I have a system of treatment, like in Britain, where all complaints are advised to take paracetamol, ”laughs Vladimir.

On the night of March 16, when a fever was added to a badly tolerated cough, the photographer still decided to go to an ambulance. The paramedic listened to the patient's breathing and said: "Get ready, you have a suspicion of pneumonia."

For the first time in his life, Vladimir went to the hospital - and immediately to the infectious diseases department. The photographer recalls the line of ambulances that stood that night at the emergency room, and the clean linen in the box - as fresh as in a hotel.

Doctors took tests for coronavirus. No one expected positive results: they did not pay attention to the announced pandemic, only chaos in Italy showed in the news, and in Russia Covid-19 was considered a rarity. An X-ray showed blackouts in Chernyadiev’s lungs, and the photographer was sent to a ward for six people, where 10 patients were replaced over the next five days.

“One had a sore throat, others had pneumonia, everyone coughed and fever. All were equally infectious, we could no longer pick up something else there. Except for the coronavirus, as it turned out. And also scabies, which one guy himself did not know about, ”- said the photographer.

At first, they were treated for common pneumonia: they prescribed antibiotics, cough medicine, inhalations that did not fit: “As it turned out, in the case of my pneumonia, it was better not to do them”.

The first test for Covid-19 was negative and the doctors relaxed. The second one, taken the morning after hospitalization, came 5 days later: he was sent to the Novosibirsk laboratory "Vector".

When Covid was confirmed there, Vladimir already felt almost recovered.

“I was not scared. I knew from my health that it would not be worse. On the third day in the hospital, all flu symptoms disappeared. The temperature dropped, the scent and taste returned, ”says Vladimir.

Chernyadiev was transferred to a separate box, with his own bathroom and toilet.

“The flow was light, there was no compression in the chest, as described. I thought I would sit there for three more days and go home. And after a positive analysis, they left for another week. I'm upset, damn it, to sit here again. I lose my job, orders ... Then there was no quarantine, and I thought that I had a job, ”says the photographer.

Along the way, it turned out that he had not infected anyone in the common room: no virus was found in any of the neighbors, says Vladimir. The wife, who lives with him, cost a mild runny nose and a negative test. Like friends who traveled to Italy.

“As I understand it, there are super-distributors that can infect 1000 people a day, moving around the city, and there are people like me who get sick, but do not transmit the virus,” the photographer suggests.

On the subject: They die unexpectedly from coronavirus: doctors are trying to understand why this is happening.

For two weeks Vladimir took antibiotics and oxygen inhalation: “Very useful things. With them, as I understood, everything proceeds more easily, without mechanical ventilation ”. I read my beloved Mark Twain. Meditated: looked at the ceiling. Photographed food. I was surprised at rumors and fakes about coronavirus on the Internet: “First, I told doctors the horror stories that circulate on the networks, about quartz lamps and so on. They laughed, talked, this simply could not be physically. And when I read that in Britain they started burning 5G towers like witches, because they thought that the virus was transmitted through them, I finally understood that the Middle Ages are back. "

Before his discharge, Chernyadiev noted that the situation in the hospital was getting worse.

“A wave of severe patients began, who were immediately placed on mechanical ventilation. If they pulled me out with one antibiotic, then they need two at once, then a difficult period of recovery from drugs. Doctors constantly said that the only means of prevention was to stay at home, ”says Vladimir.

Like many who had recovered from the disease, Vladimir was amazed at the number of people denying the epidemic: “If you are walking and hoping for an easy course, count on a month at once. It’s better to just sit at home than to sit in the hospital with a blue backside from injections. Believe it. "

After three negative tests for the virus and a CT scan, the photographer was released home. On March 29, having arrived home from the hospital by car sharing, Vladimir first asked on Facebook: “Dear lawmakers! I have a pressing question! And what about those who have already had Covid-19? The doctors at my hospital say you can no longer be a carrier or be re-infected. ”

He still has to comply with the quarantine: “I left before the crisis and the collapsed mortgages, but I arrived ...” Seven of his friends from the fashion industry left their rented apartments and went to their hometowns in the regions.

The producer's wife also lost most of the orders. “I’m lucky, usually everyone takes pictures of people, and I photograph objects. All sorts of things are already brought to me by couriers, I am starting to take them off little by little. I was told a long time ago: "Why do you need to do what everyone else is doing?" I'm glad I followed this advice. "

"I slowly go from the bedroom to the toilet, and somewhere in between I have to sit down."

In October 2019, Maria Mukhina went to Germany to study as a film producer for one of the cultural programs of the European Union.

According to her, she got into a group of 18 young specialists after several interviews and became the first Russian participant in this program in almost 20 years.

The group studied at various film schools in Stuttgart, Paris and London, Maria flew a lot, the courses were supposed to end in September 2020 with a film.

But in March, curators announced to students that due to the coronavirus pandemic, all universities were closed, studies were stopped, and the dormitory had to be vacated.

“Go where it will be calm for you,” the students were advised. Mukhina started getting ready to go home to Moscow. The things did not fit in two suitcases, she had to go out into the city for a third.

It was March 14th, it was the third day that the world announced the coronavirus pandemic. Museums, theaters and universities have already closed.

“I was shocked because in Stuttgart everyone was just hanging out. The crowd was busy, they wandered around the shops and drank prosecco, as they usually do on weekends. And I already with a sanitizer, on my nerves, grabbed the first suitcase I saw and ran on to pack, ”says Maria.

Maria traveled to Moscow through Stuttgart and Helsinki, changing her ticket twice: “I got sick, and on the 16th I got a fever, but I decided it was neurosis.”

On March 17 in the evening, she landed in Moscow and immediately went up to the doctors on duty at the terminal with the words: "Please take a test from me." I filled out a questionnaire, got a smear, took a taxi home and went into self-isolation.

“For two days I felt wonderful. I took things apart, started the wash, and only on the third day I noticed snot and a slight cough. I decided that I had contracted ARVI - I usually always get sick like that ”.

The cough intensified, Maria gargled. They did not call from Rospotrebnadzor, but on March 22 the doorbell rang. Doctors in protective suits reported a positive result at Covid-19 and took Mukhina to Kommunarka.

Fond of running and yoga, Mary never lay in the hospital. She did not have time to wonder at the local order: on Sunday she became much worse, on Monday, doctors diagnosed her with bilateral pneumonia and began to treat with shock doses of antibiotics.

“It was so bad that everything else did not care deeply. I, of course, was glad that this was a new clean hospital and that I was alone in the ward, five times a day food, three times a day a dropper, several times a day the temperature was measured ... But the fever and cough were such that it seemed to me that I have a piece of meat, not a throat, ”recalls Maria.

Mukhina was changed antibiotics several times, she took an antifungal medicine, and for the second week, doctors added an antiviral drug.

The symptoms disappeared, she was already being prepared for discharge, when suddenly the temperature rose again, her head hurt, she became sick, and Mary was almost unconscious. The next day, she could neither eat nor drink. It turned out to be intoxication with an antiviral drug.

Mukhina’s all drugs were canceled by putting under a dropper with saline and vitamin C. At this time, the first negative tests for Covid-19 came. She spent 15 days in the hospital.

In almost four weeks of quarantine, Mukhina saw only doctors and one courier. I saw my parents from the window of the ward at the hospital checkpoint, when they handed things to the guard. She also sees them now, after discharge: she speaks on the phone while they are standing under the window of her apartment on the third floor.

The main consequences of the disease are weakness and lethargy for at least a month, doctors warned Mukhina.

“I made breakfast today - and I'm already tired, I want to go back to bed. Taking a shower now feels like running 10 kilometers. Every morning is very difficult. No matter how slowly I get up, it's still very strong weakness and blackens in my eyes. I slowly walk from the bedroom to the toilet, and somewhere in between I have to sit down so that the blackness goes away and the dizziness stops. I swing for two hours in order to somehow be like a person, ”says Maria.

Despite this, Mukhina has already returned to classes on the European program for film producers: while she was sick, her studies were transferred to the online format. Maria also gives a lot of interviews and will be involved in blood donation to work with antibodies that are produced in patients who have been ill.

“My civic position has somehow leapt,” she explains. - Our people seem to lack the example of Europe, where everything went to hell. I have already decided to do everything to the maximum and to tell more. True, the strength is not enough, ”says Maria.

At the hospital, Mukhina wrote about her illness on Facebook and Instagram - and under each post she collected dozens of comments that she actually did not have a coronavirus, she was lying with the usual ARVI and, in general, she was an actor hired by the authorities.

They also criticized that she came to be treated at the expense of the budget of the Russian Federation, and while she was healthy, she was sitting abroad.

“It pisses me off,” says Mukhina. - In general, I went to study, because I was able to enter and because I want to make our Russian cinema better. Both I and my parents paid taxes here all the time, and the last time I was in the district clinic was seven years ago. Yes, I just got to the hospital. What are these claims in general? "

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