Before this I didn’t have any health conditions; I don’t even smoke. I didn’t find out exactly how or who infected me, but I’m a bank clerk and interact with people all day. My coworkers told me that I was very pale. And I constantly collapsed on the ground. After a week, because I didn’t get better, I started trying to get further help.

On February 28, 2020, I went to Melli Bank Hospital in Tehran, but they referred me to Sina Hospital, where they said the chance of it being the coronavirus was low. Then I went to Imam Khomeini Hospital, where they did a CT scan of my chest. They said that there was a high probability it was COVID-19, but they didn’t have a quarantine ward. The next day, I went to Baqiyatallah Hospital, and they confirmed the result but didn’t have room for me either. Finally, an ambulance transferred me to Shohadaye Tajrish hospital, where I was ultimately admitted.

Because this virus spread so quickly, the hospital wasn’t prepared for this kind of pandemic. For example, I was in my clothes from home for the first three days! I and several other patients — who were severely ill — were put in a big room, which I think was originally the stockroom. Of course, I don’t mean to say that the hospital staff were not doing their job. But the incoming patients were way more than the hospital capacity.

At first, because of the severity of my situation, I was not aware of things around me. But after the fourth day, things started to get much better as the medical team managed the situation.

I was in the hospital for six days. When I was discharged, I was much better but I wasn’t fully healed. The doctors took the oxygen mask away, tested the oxygen level of my blood, and took my temperature, then told me I could go home. I expected a bill, but they told me that there was no need to pay. I think it cost about a million rials (about $11), but the hospital took care of it.

The doctors prescribed me a couple of medications, but unfortunately, the hospital drugstore didn’t have those in stock. They referred me to another drugstore, but they only had one of them. I never found the other medications anywhere. I was very weak and it took eight to 10 days until I was capable of returning to my normal life. My lungs were weakened, so for a long time if I did something like going up the stairs, my lungs started to ache and I’d cough. But I heard a lot of my friends are in a worse situation than me.

Mental health was something that was neglected in the treatment process. At a low point, I had a near-death experience. I could see the doctors working on me, but I couldn’t feel them. Now looking back, it was a beautiful experience.

We are facing these pandemics maybe every few years. I think there should be psychological care for these patients too. When a patient is discharged, I think there should be some kind of support.