Those inspired by her say Ruchi Khandelwal oozes positivity, despite being in the unyielding grip of Covid-19. The Indore resident has not only almost completely recovered from the deadly disease but, her admirers say, has also emboldened lakhs of others across the country stricken by a devastating second wave of the pandemic.
"I had up to 85% infection in my lungs but, look, I managed to beat the virus and talk to you without oxygen support. It was just because I never lost hope and declined to accept that I am suffering a serious ailment, Covid-19," Khandelwal, who is a company secretary by profession, said in a video she put out last week.
The 45-year-old said that she managed to attain a 90-92% oxygen level from the previous 65-70% with the help of prone ventilation, which involves lying in a face-down position, with the chest raised and practising rapid breathing. “From 85%, my lung infection has reduced to 55%,” she said in the clip.
The video was widely shared on several social media platforms and the woman from Madhya Pradesh turned into an inspiration overnight.
Speaking to News18.com from her Covid-19 ward in Indore’s Sri Aurobindo Hospital on Monday, Khandelwal repeated all that she shared in the video, maintaining that she has utmost faith in the Almighty and is filled with positivity which helped her beat the virus. “I have detached myself of all my negativity; I even disconnect calls when someone shares depressing news of people dying," said Khandelwal, who says she perhaps contracted the infection from her father Mahesh Khandelwal who had tested positive and had up to 70% lung infection.
“After my father was hospitalised, I had fever and saw blood-mixed mucus. Then, despite my feeble condition, I decided to drive as there was no one to help and I drove several kilometres to reach Sri Aurobindo Hospital,” she said.
Khandelwal said there was chaos and the ICU wards were full but she managed to find a bed. “My CT score was 21/25 and oxygen level was in the seventies. But I never complained about anything, kept up hope and remained optimistic, drawing positivity from my late mother,” she said.
Even deaths around her could not dampen her spirits, said Khandelwal, as she continued to recover and also motivate others in the ward of 20. “People of all age groups reach the ward, terrified, sad and depressed. I approach them and share my own reports to boost their morale,” said the woman who also helps fellow patients with little things like glasses of water, measuring the temperature, checking the oxygen level, etc.
Citing an example, she said, “A patient, Neelu Vishwakarma, lost her mother on Monday and was inconsolable. I went to her and motivated her, saying that perhaps her mother had only this much life and she (the daughter) was a strong and beautiful woman and should live on to care for her kids.”
Soon after the young woman turned normal, said Khandelwal.
"Let's not crib about the government, administration, hospital or even the food we are served. Just have faith in the Almighty and remain positive," she said. She also revealed that her father too had beaten the virus. “I had severe pneumonia and woman-specific problems but I never allowed these issues to override my confidence,” she said.
Offering tips to Covid patients, Khandelwal suggested gargles after meals with alum-mixed water for relief from cough, drinking plenty of water and staying positive all the time to keep spirits high. “It's a fight but you won't need weapons, just a positive frame of mind. Negativity will kill you,” she said.
Khandelwal shared another video on Monday where the oximeter showed her oxygen level at 95%.
“Please note down, I am Ruchi Khandelwal, a Covid warrior inside the hospital and I will beat the virus as no virus is stronger than my faith in God," she said.