Personal diary from the red zone of COVID-19, part 1. Op-Ed by Ala Tocarciuc

„...Now I regret not going to the hospital from day one. Maybe I wasn't getting severe complications. Maximum attention here! You don't have to waste time! Treatment should be started based on protocol even if the test result is not yet come. You treat yourself as if you have COVID-19. It's safer that way! There's no way for self-treatment to be practiced! Don't be alone! No way! Let someone be there for a permanent time. You can suffocate in 5 minutes and need help…” …

Monday, November 23rd, foreshadowed nothing about the disease. I was at training at the gym. I did a pretty intensive workout, consumed 850 kcal, lifted weights, executed 120 crunches. All with a 5-layer mask, KN95.

After practice, I had an interview with a journalist from Journal TV about the pandemics. Among other things, I said, it's not recommended to look at the medical system as a whole now. In the system we have several components and each works differently.

We have doctors, who are under enormous pressure, they are in charge of treatment, and they need our help and support. We have the Ministry of Health, which bears a more complex responsibility, and still has many things outstanding. I also said it would be good to adjust the tactics. It's never too late to change anything for the better.

I worked until late Monday, writing Op-Ed for IPN, prepared for the public debates. An ordinary day of life.

Tuesday, November24, public debates at IPN. Awakened in the morning, healthy, with good mood, with no sign of any disease. The debates went well. All with a five-layer mask. No exceptions. It was already an unwritten rule of life to wear the mask everywhere. After the debates I wrote the summery news! For the first time in my life, I have done the reporter job, writing news. The day was lived to the full and with positive emotions.

In the afternoon, I had a meeting at Aquarelle Magazine with a group of juries for the “Woman of the Year” contest. We have chosen the best women in Moldova for various nominations. All these also with KN95, no exceptions.

In the evening, driving home in the car I felt a cold. I was without lunch, and the first thought was about hunger. Arrived home, had dinner, finished some small things, and went to rest.

But the chills were intensifying. By midnight a fever of 38 degrees had been installed, with headache and enormous pain throughout the body. Of course, the first thought was about COVID-19. There's too much around now.

On Wednesday, November25, I called the lab to the home to take the COVID-19 test. By evening, the result had come positive.

Two days, Wednesday and Thursday, November 26-th, passed with fever 38 non-stop, medication taken every 4 hours, and negative progress in the course of the disease.

To note, the severe effect of hypoxia, which means oxygen’s deficiency. Generally, it is a state of euphoria, such a kind of “Happy Hypoxia”. You have a good, even cheerful mood that is determined by the lack of oxygen to the brain. It's like the state when a man freezes, feels happy, but he actually dies.

Muscle, head, joint pains are unbearable. Slowly you turn into a vegetable that suffocates like a fish on land. There's no air. You take a deep breath, but there's something preventing him from entering. My breathing rate went from 12 breaths per minute to 24. The air wasn't enough anyway.

On Friday, November27th, at 2 o'clock at night, a very undesirable event occurred. A micro-thrombosis (a blood clot) had formed in the left lung, generated a shock of pain and had caused a pulmonary dis-stress phenomenon.  The lungs become confused in such a situation and do not perform their natural function. Suffocation was growing very fast and oxygenation was decreasing just as rapidly. It was 88-89. At this level you begin to lose control and knowledge.

My rescue was in the drug kit I had at home, or I'm a pharmacist by profession with enormous experience in high-performance medicine. At 8 a.m. I applied life-saving therapy (pulse therapy) in high doses, under the guidance of doctors from the emergency hospital. At nine o'clock I repeated therapy. I started to recover breathing in an hour.

Late Friday evening, I was able to go to the hospital to do a CT scan and some tests. The CT scan showed thrombosis on the left lung, showed a start of vascular pneumonia in the proportion of up to 10%, in the process of still forming.

At that time, it had only been 72 hours since the onset of the disease! A fulminant, lightning, very unpredictable debut in an absolutely healthy body! That's what I thought of myself.

Saturday and Sunday went stable, with very complex treatment, with low level of energy, with difficulty in breathing, intermittent oxygenation, 90-96. Sunday night began another storm, called bradykinin, we have so receptors in our body, which lowered the pulse to 48-50 beats per minute. You sound like a cosmonaut. You can only lie down and breathe often and briefly. That lasted until Tuesday morning. Then the pulse started to return to 68-70 on its own. Now I write with a normal pulse of 70 beats per minute and oxygenation of 96.

Days 7-9 are the most critical days. If you pass them on, you're already slow to get better and recover. I still get high doses of medication and three times a day I talk to doctors over teleconference.

What conclusions and recommendations would I make?

Home treatment is an option only for those who have knowledge of medicine and have a doctor available 24 of 24. The disease is very unpredictable and can evolve rapidly in different directions. Now I'm regret I didn't go to the hospital the first day. Maybe I wasn't getting severe complications. Maximum attention here!

You don't have to waste time! Treatment should be started after protocol even if the test is not yet come. You treat yourself as if you have COVID-19. It's safer that way!

There's no way the self-treatment can be practiced! Just under the guidance of a good doctor to be selected the necessary drugs, and tracked the adverse effects, daily treatment adjustment is required. I was very lucky by Sergiu Cobiletchii, my brother Vitalie Tocarciuc, his colleagues at the Emergency Hospital, who cared nonstop and corrected the therapy quickly. I owe them a life!

Blood oxygen is required to be monitored on a permanent basis. Oxygen deficiency is installed unnoticed. You have a very deceitful state of well-being, which can bring to syncope, i.e., loss of consciousness.

Don't be alone! No way! Let someone be there for a permanent role. You can suffocate in 5 minutes and need help.

Anticoagulants are crucial. That was one of the big problems, to have stock available. I personally brought it from Turkey. My friends brought from Transnistria and Ukraine. It was very complicated for some of them the first few days without proper therapy. But even with proper therapy you can make a complication, as happened in my case. The disease is unpredictable, little studied, everything is very individual in terms of treatment.

Keeping energy is crucial! The body needs power and energy to fight the virus. Just lying down. 16 hours on the belly, minimal physical effort, to make up for the energy needs for the body. Especially in the early days, when you can't eat anything at all. I got the first snacks on Friday night, three days since the disease onset. You can't eat and you don't have the strength to do it at all.

The bright side remains the people!

I've had dozens of calls and hundreds of messages of support from various bright people from many countries, where I have friends. My Spiritual Father Pavel Borsevschii came with much spiritual support! A special thank you! My family and my brother's family have been there permanently, even if someone’s from a distance, that's how times are now. My class teacher, from the school in Floresti, Mrs. Elizaveta Plesca, supported me enormously. Neighbors, friends, close relatives, each as they could offered support and help. I'm very grateful to them all!

This social support has had a major impact on the emotional state! There are no such words in the world to express all gratitude to all people with a great heart and for their support! I worship everyone to Earth! You guys are amazing!

Today I pass day 9 and I hope very much to start tomorrow the road to recovery. Yesterday's test was still positive. The virus is still in my system. Somehow, we survive together yet, without destroying each other.

Instead of epilogue

In February, back from Switzerland I made a mild form of the disease. With loss of smell and taste, but without high fever, and symptoms as obvious as now. I got out easy then. I've had multiple contacts with infected people over the past 8 months, some even very close and lasting, but I haven't had the disease. I had some kind of cellular protection from COVID-19. I was hoping it would last and get to the vaccine. Protection ended in November, after almost nine months.

I had a seasonal flu vaccine, a pneumococcal vaccine, a regular vitamin and antiviral prophylactic medications, throughout the fall. That saved me from bacterial pneumonia now. I haven't taken antibiotics yet. I'm lucky with that. Otherwise, it is a disease that attacks individually, finds weaknesses in the body, and quickly settles.

I already know that I had direct contact without a mask, and I took a large viral load, which degenerated into severe form of disease.

It's still a long way to recover, which I hope to make.

I wish you all good health and recommend that you wear safe masks and protect yourself from the disease. It is important to remain positive and healthy, to support each other in this complicated period, which is nowhere near yet obsolete in our country. Thank you for being in my life!

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