From ventilator to victory: HCMC Covid survivor shares recovery story

By Thuy Quynh   August 16, 2021 | 05:48 am PT
While treating Covid-19 at home, Bui Trong Binh experienced terrible pains that made his spirit shatter, but his resilience and hope helped him beat the virus.

After showing Covid symptoms like fever and muscle aches, Binh, 49, living in HCMC’s District 7, tested himself with a rapid test kit and learned he had contracted the virus on July 24. He immediately went up to the attic to isolate himself and minimize physical contact with family members.

"Fortunately, the remaining four people in my family tested negative. I didn't know how I got infected since I didn't make any contact with strangers or go outside for a whole month," he said. "I get why they say this disease is more transmittable and unpredictable."

During the first five days, he experienced high fever, body shivers, headaches and muscle pains. By the sixth day, the fever had subsided. From the seventh day, he coughed constantly and faced shortness of breath, feeling like it was tearing his throat. His health was plummeting rapidly. At one point, he even fell into a coma.

Bui Trong Binh treating Covid at home. Photo courtesy of Binh.

Bui Trong Binh undergoes home treatment against Covid. Photo courtesy of Binh.

One time, his blood oxygen level dropped too low, forcing him to call a doctor and take medicine as prescribed. Binh also mentioned that he stopped breathing for about 5-10 seconds twice due to continuous coughing, causing his throat to contract.

"I was in a panic after experiencing trouble breathing twice and seeing my oxygenation level drop so low. My spirit was broken during that time," he said, describing the feeling of suffocation as the most brutal torture.

He admitted he had begun fearing for his life. Nights became longer and he just wanted to see the sun rise, worried that when he slept, he could suffocate. After 10 days of anxiety, fatigue and insomnia, some of his black hair began to turn grey.

Binh said the battle with the virus had been extremely harsh, but fighting negative thoughts was even more challenging amid countless bad news regarding Covid fatalities.

He shared that the only time he had an argument with his wife during quarantine was when she mentioned close friends who had passed away because of Covid and about the increasing number of infections. He admits no matter how strong he is, he couldn’t calm down since the disease is too dangerous and might land him in the same situation.

"Social media is like a double-edged sword with both good and bad news. I can't get rid of the bad news, so I usually flip through them quickly. That's the best solution," he said.

In the clips shared on his personal page, Binh noted if someone in their family is sick, beside self-isolation, they should also isolate themselves from negative information as well to keep up their fighting spirits.

During treatment, the driving force that made him able to overcome the illness was his family.

Binh isolates himself in a room in the attic. Photo courtesy of Binh.

Binh isolates himself in a room in the attic. Photo courtesy of Binh.

In an online group for patients treating Covid at home, Binh encountered many people who were confused when they got sick. So on Aug. 9, he began to share videos online to teach breathing and regular exercises to fellow Covid patients. He also talked about items that should be in the isolation room, diet and others, hoping these tips would help other Covid patients like him.

According to him, must-have items for Coivd self-treatment at home include a blood pressure monitor, thermometer, blood oxygen meter, oxygen cylinders, kettle and thermos flasks containing warm and ginger water.

"Before going to bed, you should put all of these items out right next to the bed so that when needed, you can reach out to grab it. No one will take care of you but you. Especially, medicines and supportive medicines need to be kept separate, avoiding the case of losing your temper and taking the wrong dose by mistake," he said.

Oxy cylinder, medicine and other assistive medicine are placed next to his bed. Photo courtesy of Binh.

An oxy cylinder and medicines are placed next to his bed. Photo courtesy of Binh.

During treatment, he put the most emphasis on breathing exercises, since oxygen cylinders becomes useless if people don't boost their respiratory strength.

"Instead of lying still and praying for recovery, you need to practice breathing to support the lungs, prepare essential supplies. Eat, sleep in moderation and keep the most optimistic spirit," Binh said.

In addition to breathing exercises, meals are the second most important thing because if you don't eat, the body won't have enough strength to fight the virus. He advised other patients to divide their food intake into smaller meals, eating liquid and soft foods to swallow easier when having a sore throat.

After 20 days of treatment, Binh's condition is now stable. Waiting for his next Covid test result, he stated that "whether the test returns positive or negative, I must continue to practice breathing and live in quarantine for now."

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