A Dubai-based psychologist who was hospitalised for over a month after testing positive for Covid-19 found ways to spread optimism and hope from her ward. Dr Alka Kalra, who is also a life coach and motivational speaker, heads one of the biggest online summer camps in Dubai. She was busy conducting webinars and workshops to help students, school staff, families and frontliners stay calm amid the pandemic when tragedy struck.
Dr Alka, her husband Navin Kalra, their wheelchair-bound daughter Shobhika and son-in-law tested positive for the disease. It was time to practise what she had preached to hundreds around her - to stay positive, hopeful and emotionally strong.
Even as she recuperated at her Covid ward, Dr Alka continued her webinars, one-on-one counselling sessions over the phone and parenting workshops for hundreds of people across India and the UAE.
Calling it a "beautiful experience", Dr Alka, who is also director of EduScan Institute, said she used her time to help others remain positive.
"Conducting these emotional wellbeing webinars from my Covid ward greatly helped me deal with the disease as well. Every time I spoke about these positive topics and counselled others on being resilient and hopeful, the message would get into my system as well. The subconscious me listened to whatever I preached and kept me going," said Dr Kalra, who covered topics ranging from depression to anxiety, stress, mindfulness and emotional wellbeing.
She said she and her family fought Covid by staying busy and engaged throughout. "I would like to term my over 30 days of hospitalisation as a 'staycation' with my daughter since I requested the authorities to keep us together. My daughter and I stayed in one room and my husband in another. From making TikTok videos of my daughter - who is an avid TikToker with 12,000 followers - to eating biryani in the hospital, dancing and celebrating, we made the most of the time we got to spend with each other. The idea was to stay busy, happy, explore our potential/talents and do what we love doing the most. We beat the deadly virus with a smile," Dr Kalra said.
The doctor went about her regular daily routine. She would be up and ready by 8am every day. She gave the hospital staff a list of her daily sessions and routine so they could adjust her medications and injections accordingly. "No one could even take a wild guess that I was happily taking all those online sessions from my Covid ward with a nurse wrapped in a PPE waiting with doses of injections and medicnes right next to my bed," laughed Dr Alka.
Dr Alka's husband, who had been put on a ventilator, also made a speedy recovery and was discharged two days before her. "My husband realised his love for poetry at the hospital and was engrossed in writing poetry. He also attended online Yoga sessions. In fact, I visited him on our 25th day at the hospital and we sang some songs and even recorded a dance together for our worried relatives back in India.
"It was a great stay for all of us at the hospital and it is commendable that we were not charged a fil for our month-long stay. This is why the UAE is the best country to be in and we consider ourselves very lucky to be here," Dr Kalra said.
She advised patients to maintain good mental health and not to overthink. Dr Alka said: "The one thing that I have realised is that your immunity is regulated by your mental health. Fear is the biggest enemy of your immunity. If you are scared, stressed and anxious, you become easy prey to the virus as your immunity takes a hit. To fight this disease and any other disease for that matter, rewire your mind to think positive, do not panic or get nervous but instead get busy with something you love doing."