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When Swine Flu played havoc in their life…


The one scary aspect of being part of this universe is that one never knows when one’s life may turn topsy-turvy with a single incident or how a happy family may turn into a mere number in the statistical records of some official document or just become the headline of a newspaper daily. At such adverse times when fate takes the ultimate test of endurance, patience and courage, it is only determination and never ending hope that can bring out a person from such situations unscathed.

This survivor story is about Rachana Lal, A government servant, resident of South Delhi, a mother of two and her ordeal with swine flu and her extreme patience and faith which helped her and her family survive those moments.

For Rachana Lal, 9/8/09 was like any other routine day but she noticed that when she came back from office in the evening her 5 year old son Hardik was not his usual self. Other than slight irritability there were of course no other warning signs.

On 10/08/09, early morning however he was running a slight temperature. The temperature subsided with paracetamol but he kept tossing and turning throughout the day and had developed cough and cold.

On 11/08/09 as he was still having fever she took her son to the nearby Government dispensary where they treated him as common cold.

At 5’o clock the same day his fever shot up to 104 degree and he was also vomiting. Around the same time they saw a news flash of detection of a swine flu case in the same school that Hardik studied and belonging to his own class.

She wasted no time and took her son to Safdarjung hospital for treatment but made a blunder there- She forgot to give the contact history which later proved to be a major error. He was again given a course of medicines… a course of medicines for flu.

On 12/08/09 there was neither improvement nor any deterioration. They chose to wait and watch.

On 13/08/09 Hardik’s appetite decreased considerably. His fever never touched baseline in spite of repeated medications.

On 14/08/09 they (Rachana and her husband) again took him to Safdarjung hospital in the morning as he had completely stopped taking solids by then. This time she mentioned the contact history after which the sample for H1N1 virus testing was taken but they were again asked to go back and come after 4 days. Awareness of swine flu was spreading fast and so Rachana inquired if Hardik could at least be given Tami flu on suspicion., but he was neither admitted nor given Tami flu and was sent back home with advise to return after 4 days.

On the same day at 5.45 pm hardik’s condition worsened. He was coughing and vomiting and had developed breathing difficulty. Moreover he was running a temperature of around 103- 104 degrees F they again took him to Safdarjung Hospital casualty or emergency department, but there they were sent to the H1N1 department for management. But from there they were again sent back to emergency as there were no beds available.

At 6.30 pm Hardik was given nebulizer which gave him slight relief and was advised chest X ray. Even after being made to run about from pillar to post her never for once did lose her cool. Her husband had despaired at the state of things and had broken down once but she remained calm and remained a pillar of strength for both her husband and little hardik.

8 pm: Though they did not admit Hardik, Rachana still held hope and stayed back there in the waiting lounge for fear of further deterioration if she brought him back home .They kept on trying for admission till 9 pm but with no avail. Time was running out so they decided to move on in desperation to Holy Family Hospital.

10 pm: They reached Holy Family hospital but even they refused to admit Hardik as he was a suspected Swine flu case. They were beginning to panic but Rachana did not waver for once nor lose hope. They called up Batra Hospital helpline and again hit a negative response. But thankfully, someone in Holy family hospital suggested them to take him to RML hospital without wasting anymore time. 

11.45 pm: They reached RML hospital and from then on things started moving for the better.  He was examined promptly and administered Tami flu and admitted him for observation and treatment.

They were explained about isolation and precautions to prevent spread and her little daughter of two was given precautionary Tami flu. Swabs were taken for H1N1 testing from her daughter too.

All the formalities were completed by 1 am.

Hardik started responding to treatment and started taking orally little bit the next day and after 5 days the symptoms began to disappear.

Finally the ordeal was over for Rachana and her family. Never during the period did she lose her hope nor became agitated. She kept her mind composed to think lucidly ahead as she felt that if she weakened at that moment then there would be no one to take charge and how true she was!

 – A real survivor story as told to Mani padma

If any one of you have inspiring stories of yourself which can inspire and help many, kindly share with us in survivors series. Send the stories to:  sip (at) gingerchai (dot) com

0 25 March, 2010 Survivors March 25, 2010

About the author

She is a Doctor by profession , working in Delhi. Loves traveling, mind games and playing with words… And also the chief-co brewer of GingerChai. She is the chief brewer of some of the interesting categories you see in GingerChai. Follow @manishalsam

View all articles by Mani Padma


  1. Shilpa Garg

    Ah! That must be one hell of a harrowing experience!! 🙄
    Imagine running from one hospital to the other!! 🙁

    But not loosing hope and keeping the faith are the key mantras in such situations! 🙂

  2. Aneet

    No offense but ‘swine flu’ has been blown out of proportions by media, particularly in India and I find MORE SO in Bangalore, specifically.

    I don’t see how it is any scarier than regular flu given that flu is communicated through birds or pigs.

    But, yes, a good post covering the chronology of events nevertheless.

  3. Mani

    @ Shilpa Well that was the point I wanted to put through. ” the running from one hospital to the other” the horror of that moments. after all Hardik was only five.
    @ Aneet well it is true that swine flu has been blown out of proportion but it did create a havoc initially.See ” survivors” is not a fictional creative post but is rather a true account of Human endurance in tough exacting situations. Just imagine a middle class Indian family having to face this ordeal and that too with their child- Inspite all that happened , they did not lose their cool and instead acted with their “head” rather than the “heart” ( I mean they did not waste time creating scenes in Safdarjung Hospital ) was what I found admirable
    @ S.R. Ayyangar I completely agree with you

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