On April 19, 2021, our mom unexpectedly contracted COVID-19 in Pune, India despite self-isolating for 14 months.

With our help, she beat it alone at home. But her path to recovery was, and continues to be, anything but straightforward. Here we share everything we’ve learned caring for her from across the globe in America: from our high-level approach to our virtual patient chart to her blood test results. We hope something in here will help someone else.

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The authors of this content are not doctors or mental health professionals. This content reflects information, experiences, opinions, and medical advice from friends, family, strangers, the Internet, and doctors we spoke to over the duration of mom’s infection. While the content is deeply influenced by the clinical approach of a talented doctor in the author’s family, the views presented in this guide can only be attributed to the authors. Suffice to say, this content is not a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, its diagnosis, or treatment. It’s simply what worked for our mom—a single individual in the great sea of COVID-19 patients—but won’t necessarily work for you and yours. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition, including, and especially, COVID-19.


Our 70-year old, diabetic, cancer-surviving mom, ચિત્રા (Chitra), lives in Pune, India: a city near Mumbai that earned the moniker, India’s Covid Capital. On Monday, April 19, 2021, she sent us this message on our family’s WhatsApp group:

MOM Hey Guys, don’t worry but I have a temperature of 99.8 an hour back. I have taken paracetamol. I can smell everything. It is just exhaustion and lack of sleep. Going off to sleep now. Don’t worry please.

At the time, she was unvaccinated due to vaccine shortages in India, and the escalating and very real risks of contracting COVID-19 at vaccination sites. But she had been strictly quarantining in her apartment for 14 months: she’s one of those rare individuals who had not socialized in over a year. Aside from accepting deliveries at her door in an N95 mask, and the odd quick interaction, fully-masked, to sign a bank document brought to her home, she’d been waiting out the pandemic in her apartment.

So when we received this message from her, we didn’t think too much of it. We told her to get some rest, and check back in the morning. She’d had a couple of colds in the past year after all.

Over the next few tumultuous days, her symptoms slowly but surely mutated. A red eye, unrelenting fatigue, and eventually, anosmia: she lost her sense of smell. For our part, we became progressively more worried as our feeds and group threads filled up with horrifying stories playing out in India, many among our own family and friends, and we finally entertained the idea that she may have contracted COVID-19 without ever having left her home. We had a lab administer an RT-PCR test at her home, and the result confirmed our worst fears: she was COVID-positive. We can’t know for certain, but considering the timing, her geographic location, the nature of transmission, and how her case developed, we would be willing to bet that she had contracted the formidable Delta variant.

Since then we’ve spent almost every waking minute caring for our mom remotely from our homes in American cities of Kirkland (indeed, the very city where COVID-19 kicked off its U.S. tour), Portland, Charlotte, and New York. We learned much of what we share here the hard way, and at times under severe duress. We hope that by presenting it clearly and (as) concisely (as possible, but no more so), it might help someone else.

Is this information for you?

We can’t answer this question for you. But we implore you to not follow any advice you come across without triaging it yourself (including what’s in this guide). If there’s one thing we’ve learned going through this it’s that COVID-19 often acts very predictably, and at other times in entirely mysterious ways. Also, COVID-19 symptoms resemble the symptoms of other viruses and infections like sinusitis making it that much harder to diagnose and treat. It sometimes acts slowly, and at other times escalates in severity with dizzying and unforgiving speed. There is no set pattern for how this virus affects humans (this is not to say that there aren’t patterns). With that said, we will attempt to give you a clear picture of the medical and symptom profile of our mom as it may help you determine how similar or dissimilar her case is to your or your loved one’s. Here goes.

Our Mom’s Medical & COVID-19 Symptom Summary


  • 70 years old, 62kg/137lbs, Female

Comorbidities/Risk Factors

  • Severe Type II Diabetes
  • Cancer Survivor (Papillary Carcinoma, i.e. Thyroid cancer)
  • Obesity
  • Mild Hypertension

Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA1C)

  • 10.10% (Reference range 4.0 - 5.6%)

Average Blood Glucose

  • 240 mg/dL

Medication Profile

  • Thyroid: Thyroid Hormone Replacement
  • Diabetes: Metformin, Vildagliptin, and Glimepiride
  • Other: Beta-blocker (Metolar), Blood Pressure (Telma), Statin (Rozat)
  • Various Supplements & Vitmins

Pandemic Lifestyle

  • Fully isolated in a large apartment building, in a multi-building society, in Pune, India since April 2020. Masked (first generic KN-95 masks, and since April 2021, Respokare® N95 NIOSH masks) interactions were limited to: Accepting deliveries at her door; Taking elevator down to the garage to charge her car battery every few weeks; Accepting a delivery a couple of times at the front gate of her apartment building; Signing bank documents brought to her home.

COVID-19 Symptoms Observed (in order of appearance)

  • Persistent low-grade fever for the first 7-10 days (around 100° on average, with a peak at 102°)
  • Some nasal congestion early on (within first week), and sinus pressure/heaviness during the same period
  • Redness in one eye on day 7 after onset of symptoms
  • Body ache and fatigue with fatigue getting progressively worse through the progression of the disease
  • Anosmia (loss of smell) presenting around 10 days after first symptoms appeared, and persisting into the 4th week of infection
  • Ageusia (loss of taste) presenting shortly after anosmia, and persisting into the 4th week of infection
  • Elevated IL-6, CRP, D Dimer, & Ferritin
  • Brain fog and some delirium appearing during week 2
  • Intense fatigue for a month during the acute phase, and higher-than-usual fatigue levels persist to present day
  • Recurring post-COVID sequelae caused by mild to moderate exertion

COVID-19 Symptoms Not Observed

  • No shortness of breath or other respiratory symptoms whatsoever; RER presented as normal throughout infection
  • Blood oxygen saturation (Sp02) was always ≥ 92% and never dipped below that level, once we started measuring it

If the above at least partially resembles your or your loved one’s case, we recommend reading our 75-page guide (available as a Google Doc and PDF)
Read The Full Guide Above

Under Construction We’re donating all the ad revenue made by this site to the COVAX fund via the Go Give One campaign. Every $5 gets a vaccine to someone in a country that cannot afford it.

We, Chitra’s kids and the creators of this site, have the means, resources, tools, support, and good fortune not only to be able to help our mom from across the world, but also to take enough time off to create and maintain a site like this without it materially affecting our livelihood. So far, we’ve also had luck on our side: our mom had a “mild” case of COVID-19, and she recovered. So much of what we recommend in this guide isn’t available to the majority of the Indian population because of inequality. But inequality is hardly an Indian problem—here in the U.S. we have more than our fair share of it, and it grows each day. This is not lost on us, not just in this situation, but in our day-to-day lives as well. We are doing our best to contribute something here; the people who took the time out of their days and nights to help us did, too. In the best of moments, we feel a glimmer of hope that we may be helping someone with this site and content. But we’d be lying if we didn’t admit often being stuck in the purgatory between despair and anger over the completely avoidable suffering and loss of life this pandemic has brought with it, and also any role we’ve played, and continue to play, knowingly and unknowingly, in creating such an unfathomably unequal world.

Please wear a mask. And if you have access to vaccines, please go get vaccinated.