Back from Cairo, engineer deconstructs stigma in isolation

Back from Cairo, engineer deconstructs stigma in isolation.

Panaji, (Asian independent) The visitors to Cairo usually pick up a cartouche, an ornate nameplate embellished with hieroglyph insignia as a souvenir, but Edgar Julian Remedios drew a short straw.

The 55-year-old mechanical engineer believes he picked up a COVID-19 infection instead, when he visited the Egyptian capital last month on work.

Now, lying in the isolation ward of the Employees State Insurance hospital, Goa’s designated facility for COVID-19 positive patients, Remedios is one of the seven coronavirus afflicted patients in the state, who are awaiting cure.

On Monday, Remedios, who occupies station number 22 at the isolation ward made a mental call, which surprised many. He authored a testimonial of his whirlwind journey from Houston to Amsterdam to Cairo to Mumbai and Goa over the last month on his Facebook account and decided to tear to shreds, the shroud of stigma which patients afflicted by the dreaded virus tend to cower under.

Speaking to IANS over phone from the isolation ward, Remedios (he has willingly urged to mention his identity) said, that through the testimonial, he wanted to thank all the nurses and doctors who have been caring for him and other patients through the difficult period.

“This doctor Edwin Gomes especially. He immediately put me at ease and assured me that there was nothing gravely wrong with me, because he could see anxiety and fear in me. He admitted me, checked on me, answered every stupid question I asked of him, with patience and understanding. He treated me and his patients like they were his own children,” Remedios said.

Gomes is the nodal officer in-charge of the designated COVID-19 hospital.

“My conscience is clear. I am not worried about stigma,” he says, when asked why he was willing to expose his identity, when many other patients were not.

Based out of Houston in Texas, US, Remedios, a father of two, who travels six months a year as a consultant for a German firm, had visited Cairo last month, to oversee facilities at a process plant, where he believes he caught the COVID-19 bug.

His connection back to the US was via Frankfurt in Germany. But with the US barring flights from Germany in wake of the pandemic, he instinctively decided to travel to his roots in Goa, despite advice from his travel agent. Remedios traces his roots to Saligao village in North Goa.

Apart from his instinct, Remedios also claims, that providence was at play, when he took the decision to travel to India.

“Something told me not to travel to the US. I would have probably been dead by now, judging by what is happening in the US. It was God’s divine hand, which transferred me from Cairo to Goa via Mumbai,” he said.

Everything was in order after he landed in Goa on March 15, but three days later, a scratchy throat developed, which he initially blamed on the change of weather.

Days later body ache and a flu followed, which led him to quarantine himself in his room. Then, after a longish interlude at the chaotic Goa Medical College, the state’s largest health facility, he was shifted to the ESI hospital, after he tested positive for COVID-19.

“My right lung showed heavy patches. The bronchial tract full of bacteria. I was on six-day course of heavy antibiotics, three times a day,” he said, adding that the X-rays were clearing up with regular medication.

The isolation facility is “decent” he maintains. The nurses appear petrified when they approach COVID-19 positive inmates like him, but he “understands” the cause for their fear. “They have never experienced something like this,” he explains.

A combination of medication and a steady dosage of programming on Netflix, “keeps me going” Remedios says. He also utilises his time in isolation, to speak to his friends and family over phone.

“I continue to have positive thoughts about the future. Considering, I initially thought I was going to die, that is a good start,” Remedios says in summary.

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