A little introduction is needed here. Our development center is located in Belarus. This country is one of the two ones in Europe that chose not to shut down due to COVID-19. Mаny of the quarantine measures well-known around the world also didn’t stay anywhere long enough. But that didn’t stop most local companies from taking internal measures to constrain the disease rate among their employees.
Early in March, PieSoft switched to the optional self-isolation mode. Our office was still open (and going forward, it remains open), but most of the guys preferred to switch the office settings to home decorations and solve all work issues exclusively out of bed for a while. It is, however, well known that nothing lasts longer than the temporary. Moreover, working remotely is a natural habitat for any IT specialist, so we’ve just gone back to our beginnings.
Still, we really miss our offline gatherings, lively discussions and unexpected insights during short conversations over a cup of coffee/tea with the colleagues. But it is too early to relax no matter how tempting that may be. In the fall, scientists are foretelling the second coronavirus wave, after that here goes the reptilians attack, and, what the hell, why not dreaming about the second season of "Firefly" with the old cast.
Plus the internal statistics of the company keeps us alert and on our toes: 15%, Carl! 15% of PieSoft employees somehow got to know the viral brand 2020 first-hand. We talked to some of our heroes and this is what they told us.
What was your first thought when you found out that you were ill? And the second one?
Vasily: “Hurray, it has happened before our healthcare system collapsed! And it seems that there are even free beds in the infectious hospital!”
Vera: “First thought: “I don’t want to go to the hospital. ” The second one: "Damn, it’s summer, 30 degrees, I'll die in the hospital from the heat." But fortunately the hospitalization wasn't needed.”
Alexandra: “What I thought doesn't fit in not-four-letter-word at all. Moreover, what I felt doesn’t match the statement “I found out that I was ill”, because pretty much time passed between you feeling the very symptoms and the doctor coming to you to take a snab. In my case, it took 9 days, when everything seems to be clear, but is not official. During this time, I managed to realize that I was going to be seriously tested beyond that, because the illness came during my graduation from the university. So my first thoughts were about how bad I felt and how badly I didn't want to graduate in September.”
How did the disease affect your family and friends? How did they react to the news of your illness? Did your colleagues support you?
Vasily: “My parents and sister also got sick, and they suffered much harder than I did. Colleagues were worried and often pinged me about my health (my warmest regards to Vika specially!)”
Vera: “My friends were very worried and were writing to me all the time. The parents also couldn't stop phoning me all day long.”
Alexandra: “My father is an intensive care specialist and he seems to be responsible for the virus to sneak into our family. So we all fell ill at the same time, and it was even more fun to get sick together.
My friends supported me as best they could. They helped me sign a request form to postpone my graduation (actually they did it on behalf of me, because I was self-isolating). The godfather printed out my diploma and took it to the university.”
What was the course of the disease?
Vasily: “It took a fairly mild form. Actually, only two symptoms showed up - severe weakness and lack of smell.”
Vera: “In fact, I'm still not 100% sure that this was it. Unfortunately, the medical institution in my neighbourhood does not do tests for covid-19. Now I'm trying to find a test for the antibodies and pass it (at the time of publication, Vera made a test that confirmed the presence of covid antibodies). But the symptomatology was almost canonical (I passed through everything except the loss of taste and runny nose).
In general, the disease proceeded as severe SARS which lasted for a week. In the end, the sense of smell disappeared (the cat litter tray stood dirty for several days, and I did not even notice that!). I was constantly tormented by chest pain, there also was a fever turning me inside out. My eyes hurt badly, my skin was on fire, my brain was boiling. In general, I did not want anything but sleep. It got better in a couple of evenings. There was a strong weakness as well that lasted for two weeks.
The worst experience was the clinic. As I have already said, my friends and parents were very worried, and they asked me to call the doctor. I did it on Tuesday, the third day after the fever started. And on Friday they announced that I had been cured! I was sitting in a line at the emergency room for three hours, in a corridor full of sick people.
Ultimately, my goal was to get a scan of my lungs, not a sick leave. And I finally did it. It turned out that I didn’t have pneumonia. Apparently, that’s why I was not meant to get the coronavirus test. But I found out there were people with pneumonia in the queue, and they didn’t get anything like that either. The corona test was only for those who were in the special list as a Level 1 contact with pneumonia.”
Alexandra: “The word disgusting matches perfectly. I mean intoxication when you feel bad and have no strength to get up to anything else. When you get out of bed and get back in a second. Sometimes I seemed to be breathing, but I felt like there was not enough air in the room to take a deep breath. And that was a light course of the disease! I even managed to write my diploma in time. At the same time, everyone in the family had to take a handful of pills from antibiotics to pain relievers and even some anti-allergenic stuff. Now I feel like they took two weeks of my life.”
Do you think it was right that PieSoft provided employees with the opportunity to work remotely?
Vasily: “All right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s now or never! Don’t miss an opportunity to look at a live coronavirus carrier, hurry up! Oh no, it’s too late! I am already well and in good health :) I mean, of course, quarantine is needed. Does anyone think differently?”
Vera: “Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt, working from home is a good idea. The virus won't go anyway! Returning to the office in September seems unrealistic to me. Besides, there's no guarantee that you may escape the chance to get sick several times.”
Alexandra: “Yes, because everyone has a completely different course of the disease. Taking the example of my family, the virus strain may be absolutely the same, but everyone will feel the disease in a completely different way. For instance, the virus was lenient with my father, although he brought it home, I did not stop taking painkillers for two and a half weeks, otherwise my head could simply not bear it, and my mother got the most severe form, and for more than three weeks she wasn't really feeling better. So in this situation, someone may not even notice that they are sick, and a person who has become infected from them may be hospitalized and put on a ventilator. It looks like a lottery.”
What advice would you give to those who now have covid and to us all?
Vasily: “It's hard to say. Stay at home, go to the supermarket at night when there are few people. Give the dirty look to those who appear without masks in public.”
Vera: “Follow the recommendations of doctors and try not to let the disease go on.”
Alexandra: “It's bad that there is a lot of conflicting information on the Internet. I would recommend not reading it. If you do, you’ll begin to listen to your body all the time, and the anxiety will increase. My advice is to pay close attention to what doctors say: they have a specific to do list for everyone. Ask for an individual approach, find out which medicine may be BETTER than those from the list. Ask why you need to take this or that medicine, and on what basis. And only then make your own balanced decision.”