COVID-19 Self Quarantine by a Quadriplegic - Day 01
My name is Anurag Kumar and I am a person with quadriplegia. We have been witnessing an extraordinary situation in the shape of COVID 19 pandemic since the last 3 months. It has affected our lifestyle and hence life in an unprecedented way. In this write up, I will share with you my experience of precautionary self quarantine as a person with severe disability .
I work at a rehabilitation centre for persons with acute disability like spinal cord injury, brain injury etc. I had been traveling extensively between 5 March 2020 to 14 March 2020 due to some unavoidable personal engagements. I visited New Delhi and Mumbai between this period. Both of these cities have witnessed most cases of confirmed Coronavirus infection. Aware and highly informed with developments related to the spread of Coronavirus in different countries around the world, I took extreme precautions throughout the trip. These precautions included continuously wearing mask during travel as well as visit to public places, washing hands with soap and water whenever getting chance to do so, using alcohol based hand sanitizer, avoiding touching face ( eyes, nose and mouth ) before washing hands, keeping myself well hydrated, avoiding physical contact with any third person and maintaining social distancing as much as possible.
Despite taking all these precautionary measures, I was highly vulnerable to acquiring such an extremely communicable virus as I had been visiting places where suspected carriers of COVID19 usually visit. Some of these places were hotels with footfall of international guests, airports of New Delhi, Mumbai & Chandigarh and multiple cab rides. As I have got accommodation in the same building where I work i.e. rehabilitation centre for persons with acute disabilities, I would have become a big threat to the health and lives of all working and residing around me. On suggestion of my employer and taking all risks into consideration, I decided to self quarantine myself and my caregiver for 14 days outside the campus of rehabilitation centre.
Being a person with quadriplegia, I rely on a suitable physical environment, accessibility, several essential medicines and considerable assistance from a caregiver to lead an active and healthy life. It was very difficult as well as depressing to decide to isolate myself for 2 weeks at a temporary accommodation. There were many challenges associated with meaningfully doing self quarantine in a new accommodation.
First and most important challenge was convincing my caregiver to do self quarantine with me. It took me some persuasion to convince him. Healthy relationships, mutual care and camaraderie with my caregiver helped me to take him into confidence to do self quarantine with me. Second challenge for me was identifying accessible, suitable and affordable accommodation for the next 14 days. I have been traveling to many cities on my wheelchair all across India since the last 2 years and my past experiences prevented me from booking rooms online. Fortunately I had been exploring Chandigarh since I came here and I knew few affordable and accessible hotels and community guest houses. I decided to stay at Jat Bhawan after comparing many aspects with other options. Some of the most important aspects were accessibility, room ventilation, footfall, facilities, locality and availability of hygienic, healthy and economic food.
On 14 March 2020, I came back to Chandigarh from Mumbai. Just after deboarding aircraft, I started practicing social distancing by maintaining minimum physical contact with third person as well as keeping at least a distance of 1 meter from other persons. As I was not carrying my transfer board while traveling, I had to take help from the wheelchair assistant of Indigo airlines to transfer me to my cab. I reached Jat Bhawan directly from Chandigarh airport. I had called the property manager to keep my room open so that I could occupy my room directly after reaching there. As planned, I went directly to my room without getting into contact with anyone but everything didn’t go as planned.
My third challenge came after occupying my accommodation. Jat Bhawan didn’t have an online payment facility and it became extremely complicated to pay without physical contact. I adopted plan B in this situation. I asked my caregiver to wash his hand, maintain a distance of more than 1 meter as well as not coughing while doing cash payment for room charges. This way, I could manage to limit any possible transfer of pathogens from us to others.
I was extremely tired with travel and a very hectic schedule during the past 10 days on my first day of return. On my first day of self quarantine, we unpacked our bags and freshen up ourselves. After taking dinner and making multiple phone calls to inform my well-wishers about my well-being, I slept like I hadn’t slept since ages.