By Neelam Khan, MD

One day on our unit I got a new transfer, Mr. K, who spoke to me in Urdu and reminded me of EVERY SINGLE SOUTH ASIAN DESI DAD OUT THERE.

I was grateful to be working that week and to be able to communicate with him in his native tongue. While we were concerned about his level of oxygen requirements initially, he recovered successfully and did well during his hospital stay. During that time I got to know about him, his life, his family, his children. He asked about my family, my husband, what brought me to NYC and the COVID unit.

He gave me the most beautiful duas (prayers) every time I rounded on him. I did the same for him and the rest of my patients every day when I went home.

He asked a nurse to take this picture of us on his phone the day of his discharge. It’s the only picture I’ve ever taken with a patient in the hospital. I called him this past week to see how he was doing, and he gave me permission to use it and share his story.

His adorable desi dad-isms during his hospital stay will live on forever in my heart: Double-portion-Halal-meat diet to get his taakat (strength) back, telling me the photo around my neck was bohat hi khoobsorat (VERY beautiful), hand motion included. When he started to improve, I found him exercising in his room to help make sure he beat COVID. Also, at random points during his stay, he’d pump his oxygen level up a bit himself because, you know, why not get a little extra? 😂

Since his discharge, he’s been telling his story and educating his entire family, friends, and community on COVID. Cheers to all the Mr. K’s out there. 👏🏽

The image is courtesy of Dr. Khan and posted with the patient’s approval.

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