D is a survivor of the Covid-19 infection. Her story is one of modern-day miracles, no matter if one believes in miracles or not.
When I met D at the nursing home in Toronto where I was redeployed as a physiotherapy assistant during the peak of COVID-19, she had hardly enough strength to sit up in bed. All her meals were in bed. During the day she could walk to the washroom with great effort and at night she had to use the bedside commode, for fear of falls. During the day she spent most of her time reading, watching TV, or listening to music on her iPad. Pre COVID, with supervision, D could walk to the common activity room and cafeteria.
We started an exercise program to improve her range of motion and strength for lower limbs, initially on the bed, and then progressed to 3-4 minutes of stationary pedal bike exercises. In three weeks’ time, D progressed to 7 minutes on the bike and to get to walk to her washroom and back as needed. However, we were still being careful about how much we exerted.
She regaled me with the stories of her younger days about how successful she and her husband had been as entrepreneurs and how close her family ties are still. One day, I asked her if she could share how she overcame COVID-19 and she told me she would be happy to.
The two weeks she was in quarantine, she said, were the darkest, loneliest, and most terrifying two weeks, when the only human contact she had were the brave nurses and personal attendants who would come in with full protective gear, spend the minimal time needed and leave. She told me what helped her tide through those dark, bleak days and nights when every next moment could be your last, was her faith and her family. D spoke about how her daughter would call her daily and tell her to stay strong. They would both break down and cry. Yet, at the end of it all, they found the power of love from deep within to stay connected.
She asked me if I was familiar with the Bible, particularly Psalm 91.
Because you know me when you call me I will answer you, when you are in trouble I will be with you.
She said, “God, this is your promise, if I don’t get better, you will have to rewrite the Bible. And I know I will get better. Every night I feel Him in my right side. I have no fear. Daughter called every day and told me to fight for it.”
She told me she was convinced He is with her and she recovered.
There was a moment when she touched her right shoulder and said with utter conviction that ‘I felt Him here’, something so powerful overcame me that I could not control myself from tearing up. It was a moment so extraordinary that my scientific, rational brain was clueless about how to process it.
I told D how much her story moved me and asked if I could share this with others. She was more than happy to share and she told me that all you need is faith, belief, and hard work to get through the worst adversities that a pandemic or life, in general, can throw at you. She could not emphasize enough on how important it is for families to come together in terms of crisis.
When I finished my redeployment at the center, towards the 10th week, D was doing 20 minutes on the pedals and could walk back from the dining room to her room using her walker, without a rest break. The positivity and cheer this lady brought to others when she started dining with everyone else, transformed the atmosphere in that unit. The first time she had a social meal amongst her fellow residents, others came over to her and expressed how pleased they were to see her. She replied, “Yes, I was on a long vacation and now I am back.”
My interaction with D is one of the most uplifting experiences that I have had the good fortune to witness.
There are countless others who have overcome dire and abjectly hopeless situations that do not get to our print or any form or media. I wish all these stories get told as it is a testament to what collective consciousness can achieve in the face of crisis.
Science may still debate for another 100 years if such a thing as the soul exists or how to quantitatively measure faith. We can debate where and how the empirical data is to be collected and studied to have an identical, reproducible phenomenon in randomized controlled trials.
Till then it is these moments of clarity, with those who have faced death and come out the other side that give us mortals a glimpse of what dreams make possible, what thoughts shape forms and how one’s faith and love of family can defy medical science for all its studies and prognoses.
May we all benefit from more of these moments to help us sustain and grow through the worst crises.