‘I went to death’s door’ – Guyanese Doctor Ramesh Sugrim recovering from COVID-19

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By Isanella Patoir

Dr Ramesh Sugrim, a 66-year-old Guyanese general practitioner is now on the road to recovery after being diagnosed with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on March 27 in the United States.

Dr Sugrim spoke with the News Room via telephone from Trump’s Pavilion Rehab Center in New York where he is currently undergoing physiotherapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy to be able to walk again.

His wife, Parbattie Sugrim and their son Dr Surendra Sugrim also tested positive for the disease. His son is also a general practitioner and operates his own private practice.

“I am improving slowly. I think I will walk again, it takes time to regain strength.

“I think I probably contracted it from my son who probably contracted it from one of his patients,” Dr Sugrim told the News Room.

He explained that after he started to feel ill after arriving in the U.S on March 11, his son advised that they all get tested, however, when the family did the test on March 18 all of the results came back negative but as Dr Sugrim’s condition worsened they did another test the following week which came back positive.

“I was getting really weak and they had to call an ambulance to take me to the hospital. When I came to the hospital, they admitted me and I started to get worse with shortness of breath and after a day in the hospital they told me that they need to put me on the ventilator and if not I will die,” Dr Sugrim recalled.

Over a month later, the family was tested negative for the disease, but Dr Sugrim still has a long road to recovery ahead; he lost over 40 lbs. and is now unable to walk. He spent nine days on the ventilator.

He said he was treated with malaria drugs and antibiotics and is very grateful to have beaten COVID-19 with a number of underlying conditions.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), persons who have underling health conditions, persons who are older and those with weakened immune system are at higher risk of contracting the disease, which are often times severe and even fatal.

“I had underlying conditions – diabetes, heart attack, I have a stent and I had asthma,” Dr Sugrim said.

It’s now a week since his wife was discharged from the hospital and is at home doing well. He explained that his son’s condition ‘was not that serious’ and so he was never hospitalised.

Dr Sugrim explained that it was his faith in God that kept him going and still continues to keep him alive.

“After seeing so many people die, I was afraid I would die too so I have to talk God and everyone who prayed for me, a lot of people prayed and I think prayers did wonders,” Dr Sugrim said.

Dr Sugrim said it was his family who also kept him going but even though he is now recovering, he still cannot have any visitors while in rehab.

He said he speaks with his wife every day and every night the family connects via a zoom conference. Dr Sugrim has not seen his family since March 27.

“Through the zoom I get to see all my relatives, chat with them, pray together and this keeps me going.”

He talked about his life post COVID-19, noting that it will take a while for him to be normal again.

Dr Sugrim has his own private practice in Williamsburg, Corentyne Berbice. He has been a doctor for over 30 years but has been in the medical field since 1972 as a medical technologist; now he does not know if he will work again.

“I think I will just be at home, I don’t think I will be able to work again.”

His advice for the public is to take all the necessary precautions to guard against contracting this deadly disease.

“This is not a joke, I went to death’s door and came back. It’s a life and death situation once you contract it.”

As of May 06, according to the World Health Organisation, the United States recorded 1,252,110 coronavirus cases, 73,769 deaths and 204,872 recoveries.

Here in Guyana, a total of 93 cases and 10 deaths were recorded as of May 06.

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