Recovering from Covid-19

Several weeks ago I had flu-like symptoms. I remember it being a Wednesday morning when I started to not feel well. It started with fever and tiredness. I initially suspected it to be fatigue due to work stress.

I decided to work from home and self-isolate. As the day progressed, that flu seemed to have worsened as I started coughing in the evening. At night, I was finding it hard to sleep due to high fever and coughing. However, I continue to believe that this was just bad flu. I was still able to taste and smell. Hence, the reason to not be alarmed. I continued to take the regular medicine we take when we have the flu — paracetamol for the fever and solmux for coughing.

However, the coughing worsened and the fever continued to be between 39C to 40C. By this time I was worried that it was dengue.

By Saturday, I knew something was very wrong as I lost my sense of taste and smell. It was there that I decided to consult with a doctor through telemedicine. She recommended that I take a Covid-19 test and identified me as a probable Covid-19 case. She recommended that I wait on the fifth day to take the test; that would be on a Monday.

But on Saturday evening, my uncle, who is a doctor, recommended that I go to the hospital to get myself tested and admitted. He gave me several instructions, I packed some of my things, and hours later I was waiting outside the Emergency Room Isolation of Southern Philippines Medical Center to get swabbed for Covid-19.


DAY OF ADMISSION, TESTING

It was around 12 midnight on a Sunday when I was swabbed for an RT-PCR test. This was my first swab and it did feel odd when they inserted that long thing to get what they needed to get. The healthcare worker also extracted blood for my blood tests. After, I was x-rayed. Then, I was instructed to wait for my results.

The first result that came in was my x-ray, which the doctor said was “good.” He then said I would undergo the rapid-antigen test (RAT) because it will be around 48hrs to 72hrs before the RT-PCR test will be released. It was already around 4 a.m. when a healthcare worker swabbed me for the RAT. He also took blood samples.

By 7 a.m., I was still waiting in the ER. Eventually, the doctor called me to inform me that I am Covid-19 positive based on my RAT and they would admit me to the isolation facility. I was also told that I had fatty liver.

I somehow half-expected the results. However, I did feel worried about the people whom I may have contact. After informing my parents of my condition, I informed my close contacts and the office about my condition.

Minutes later, a nurse in full PPE came to get me at the waiting area of the ER to lead me to one of the hospital’s isolation facilities. It was just a short walk from where I was waiting the whole night.

I was admitted to this small isolation ward that I am sharing with four other patients. However, this doesn’t seem like the main treatment ward, it felt more like a holding ward before they transfer you to a room or another ward where you will get your treatment.

The whole morning had me dozing off to sleep despite the heavy coughing. Nurses come and go to get another blood sample and to insert my IV. The doctor also took another blood sample from my pulse for it to be tested for oxygen levels. That was a slightly painful blood extraction.

I try not to think about my current situation too much. Although, I did honestly have a bit of worry sharing a space with other Covid-19 patients. However, I have to understand the current situation we are in and the limitations of the facilities. Try not to worry too much and focus on my recovery, I tell myself.

Therefore, it was a big blessing that I was transferred to a private room in the afternoon. The room is nothing fancy but at least, I have my own CR and was alone in the room. The room was not airconditioned, which I do not mind.

On the same day, I was scheduled to have an MRI scan for my lungs. This happened around late in the evening already.

It was also on this day when I noticed that my illness started to peak.

While one of the nurses was checking my IV after I returned from my MRI scan, he happened to touch my arm. He said, “Init lagi ka.” He felt the heat despite wearing gloves. He went out to get the digital thermometer. My temperature was 41C, the highest since I started to have a fever. I was immediately given paracetamol and a glove filled with ice-cold water to help cool down.

That night I had trouble sleeping due to insomnia. The coughing would not stop too. It was already around 4 a.m. on a Monday that I was able to doze off. However, I could not sleep for more than an hour due to coughing.


DAY 1 OF ISOLATION

A view of my room. I am not sure if it is allowed to show the picture of the whole room. But I think you get an idea of what the room is like. Those tents outside are also isolation room and are air-conditioned.

This was an interesting day.

While having breakfast, I failed to notice the IV was accidentally removed. I only noticed it when I had this feeling of a needle-like thing being slowly pulled out of my hand. When I looked at my hand, I saw that the IV has been partially removed. I texted the nurses’ station about the situation because I was bleeding.

In less than five minutes a nurse came in to remove the IV and put another one back in. It took her three tries until the IV was inserted back to me. She tried it twice on my left arm. She said she found the vein but would “disappear.” I’m not a medical student but that was how she and other nurses would explain the IV thing to me.

It was on the third try when she succeeded in putting back the IV. It was not her fault for having to try three times. I have chubby hands and she’s wearing gloves. It must not be easy finding that vein. On the bright side, she was light with her hands, which lessened the pain of being inserted with a needle three times.

After breakfast, my doctor called to inform me of my MRI results. He said I had pneumonia and they are just waiting for my RT-PCR results to be able to start my anti-viral treatment.

It was around afternoon when the contact tracer called me to inform me that I have tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 in my RT-PCR results. It is good to note that I got my test results in less than 48hrs.

I provided the contact tracer all the information she needed and linked her with our human resource to provide them instructions on what to do next at the office.

When I received the confirmatory results, it was here where a felt some guilt and anxiety. Guilt that I may have infected others and anxiety over how I could have affected their work or daily routine. But thank God for the amazing people who I am surrounded with. They were understanding of my situation and sent words of comfort.

It is also heartwarming to know from my mother that she and her prayer partners are praying for healing.

After the contact tracer’s call, the doctor called to tell me that my anti-viral treatment will begin immediately in the evening. My treatment will include Remdesivir and this thing they inject to me to “thin” my blood. Aside from the two medications, I was also given ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and zinc supplements since I was admitted.

I was also prescribed Legalon because they discovered that I have non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL).

The Remdesivir will be given for five days and is given in the evening before bed. The medicine they inject for my blood will be administered for the next ten days. It is injected into my biceps. It is painful but you have to bear the pain. I eventually got used to the pain just like how I got used to heartaches (char).

I was still having a hard time sleeping due to the coughs and the fever.


DAY 2

Nothing much happened today. Though I was feeling a bit weak due to the fever and frequent coughing.

My cough was quite bad because my voice has become hoarse. The cough has become more forceful and hard to control. It was getting harder to take naps because my coughing would either keep me awake or wake me up minutes after I doze off to sleep.

When evening came, my cough has become very uncontrollable. I could not sleep. I had a coughing fit that lasted an hour. And it was getting harder to breathe because the interval between coughs was shorter. I texted the nurses’ station and the doctor about my situation.

A nurse came in to check on my oxygen levels. Thankfully, it was normal. He later came back with cough medicine. My cough was suppressed for the whole duration of the night. While I expected to get some sleep, my insomnia kicked in. After this, the cough medicine was included in my meds for the rest of my treatment.


DAY 3

By this time, I was beginning to adjust to “hospital life.”

At around 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., the nurses will wake me up to check on my vitals, inject the medicine for the blood, and give me medicines for breakfast.

At around 7:30 a.m. breakfast would be served. Then at around 10 a.m., the doctor would do his rounds. Lunch and medicines are delivered at around 11:30 a.m. or 12 noon. At around 4 p.m., nurses come in to check the vitals. Dinner and medicines are given at around 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. Then at around 11 p.m. and 12 midnight, nurses would do their rounds.

I was also diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver. Hence, a different kind of food for me.

While I did start to adjust to the routine, I also started to get tired of being isolated and it is just the third day of isolation!

Thankfully, the mobile data signal here was quite decent. I killed the time and boredom by binging on Netflix, Youtube, or TikTok. I brought a book with me but I find it hard to concentrate.

I also do my best to stop “thinking” too much. I try not to think how hot the weather is during these times or how I am not enjoying the food because of my lack of sense of taste and smell or how I will spend 11 more days in isolation.

There is also this thing that I noticed after losing my sense of taste and smell. While I cannot smell anything at all for the past few days, there is a tiny bit of taste in certain food that I eat.

I find myself drawn towards eating more fruits and vegetables rather than meat. I can taste the sweetness of the fruits and especially the citrus from oranges and pomelo. Hence, making the fruits more palatable. I like the vegetables because of the texture. The meat was just weird. If without taste, the ground meat was just a grainy food while the chicken or fish felt weird on my palate. It felt like eating bits of paper or cardboard.


DAY 4

Day 4 is a highlight because of some good news — the return of my sense of taste and smell.

It was during dinner that I realized I can taste again. As I was eating, I said to myself that the chicken adobo tasted quite good for hospital food. This suddenly became one of my happiest moments since being admitted to the hospital. I can taste again! I can smell again! I found myself giving a prayer of thanks to God for how my body is responding well to the treatment.

When the nurses did their rounds, I was happy to share the good news with them.

This was also the first day when I had no fever.

It is also good to note that my oxygen levels have stayed normal since being admitted. I already had my first dose and both the doctors and nurses have said that this may have helped mitigate the effects of the disease on my body.

Another good news is from some of those who were identified as my close contacts — they tested negative for Sars-CoV-2. Thank God! However, they did have to isolate as instructed by the contact tracer.


DAY 5

The fifth day was my last day to be administered with the Remdesivir. The cough medicine they gave me has helped a lot too.

My health was becoming better too. The fever has not returned and my sleep has improved.

However, my sleep hours were still short. I was sleeping at least four to five hours at night. Then in the morning and afternoon, I have one-hour naps. I also needed the assistance of Spotify’s sleep playlist to get me to sleep.

The doctor also noted that my health has stabilized and I could be transferred to another facility to continue my isolation.


DAY 7

I am now halfway through my isolation and my health has improved.

The frequency of my coughing has reduced thanks to the cough medicine they were giving me.

I am eating better too. This means that I can enjoy and finish the food that is given to me.

The only eventful thing that happened today was being informed that I will be transferred to another isolation facility in the hospital. It was explained to me that they could transfer me now to another facility for patients who are already recovering.

I immediately packed my things to be ready for transfer. However, it was already quite late in the evening when they transferred me to the isolation ward. I am sharing the ward with around 30 other patients and watchers.

Forgive me for my feet (LOL!). Anyway, my bed at the ward. I have put some of things on the bed.

The bed I am assigned to had this short wall beside it. I am also situated near the water dispenser and the nurse’s station. So, there was a steady flow of foot traffic in my area and can busy on some hours. Bur the wall I have beside me still gave me some sense of privacy for most of the day.

I try not to think about the stark difference between staying in the ward and a private room. Let’s just say you have to be strong, patient, and have a positive outlook to get through.

But the ward can be hot. The nurses and doctors were sweating in their PPEs more compared to the ones I encountered in the previous isolation facilities.

Anyway, the moment I sat on my bed, I was really sweating. The nurse was kind enough to find a fan for my spot. Not only was I benefitting from the fan but also another patient near my area. I did hear a sigh of relief from my neighbor when the fan was placed in our area.

It took a while for me to get some sleep. Maybe because of anxiety. I was a bit anxious that I could be infected again or might infect another recovering patient at the ward. Another factor could be the light. I am in the most well-lit area of the ward and could take a while for one to get some sleep.

Eventually, I dozed off to sleep.


DAY 8 to 10

Selfie at the isolation ward.

When you are a recovering Covid-19 patient and have to complete your isolation, nothing much happens.

The doctors and nurses continue their rounds to check on the patients’ health and vitals.

I found the days longer here. The mobile data signal was weaker too. Thankfully, Free GoWifi had a stable and uninterrupted connection here. So, I was still able to entertain myself while waiting for the isolation to finish.

Somehow, my health has also improved. However, I did have a bit of an accident when I overstretched my Achilles Tendon. Imagine the struggle of walking from my bed to the comfort room to take a bath or do my business.

During these days, I also observed how there was a sense of community among some of the patients. Just to give you a picture of who I am with, the majority of the patients were between 40 to 60. There were a couple patients with comorbidities too. Not all of these patients have a watcher to help them out. What happens is, despite the risks, some of these watchers were always ready to assist other older patients.

I met this mother (Ate) of two who is the watcher of her senior mother (Nanay). Sadly, I never got their name. But they were the definition of good neighbors.

Ate was very motherly to the patients around her. I would hear her say words of comfort to fellow patients and congratulate those who are discharged.

She would also be the one to sometimes get the food at the nurses’ station for the elderly in our area.

(Just for a bit of context here, the nurses are not always in full PPEs. Without, the full PPE, they cannot enter the ward. They would wear the PPEs during the rounds or when someone needs immediate attention. Also, when they are in their PPEs, they make sure they can attend to what needs to be attending. During mealtimes, especially breakfast, the nurses tend to not be in their PPEs yet. What they would do is they would stand near the plastic divider and call our last names as they distribute our food. So, some watchers would sometimes get the food of not only their kin but also those around them. The watchers are also given food.)

Back to Ate, when I was having difficulty walking, she would assist me to where I need to be. She was also kind enough to throw my trash.

It was also her who helped me learn how things go around the ward. For example, of the two bathrooms available, one is recommended for bathing and peeing while the other is recommended for pooping though you can still take a bath and pee here.

I think it was these random acts of kindness that made staying at the ward bearable.

Meanwhile, on the ninth day of my isolation, blood has clogged my IV. So, the nurse had to remove it again and put a new one in. Unfortunately, it was still hard for them to find the vein. I got jabbed twice and both were unsuccessful. While I do not mind the pain, I was getting tired. I politely asked the nurse if they could put it back later because I felt a bit tired. I also asked her to check with the doctor if I still need the IV. The nurse agreed and said she will check with the doctor.

Thankfully, the following day, they said I will not need the IV anymore because my antiviral treatment has stopped and I am doing better.


DAY 11

On the 11th day, I was informed that I will be transferred to a step-down facility. I was scheduled to be transferred to the facility at the University of Philippines-Mindanao in Mintal. I asked if there was a choice for a facility downtown, they said patients may make requests but the facilities right now are fully occupied.

My remaining option was to transfer to a private facility. The only one that I know of was Hotel Midori. So, I called them to check for their rates per night and it was expensive. But the cost of staying at the hotel per night already includes your food, salary for the doctors and nurses, and their PPEs, among others.

I am on my last three days of isolation. It will be an expensive three days at the hotel. So, I shared with my parents about the private facility. They told me to go for it.

So, I informed the person arranging my transfer that I would opt for a private facility. However, he told me that it would be very costly because my isolation has been extended to 21 days from just 14 days. This means I have nine days remaining before they let me go. The person told me I have to decide quickly because somebody will occupy my bed soon.

Worried about the cost and after discussing with my parents, I opted for the government facility. I informed the health worker and they began arranging my transfer.

While I waited to be transferred, they also handed me my billing. The total hospital bill was P250,136.35! However, upon checking the amount due, it was zero. My bill has been covered by PhilHealth and it was the hospital that processed it. While my bill was zero, I did spend some of the medicine that I will need during my stay and when I go out. I spent for the medicine for the fatty liver, cough medicine, and zinc supplement. For the medicines, I spend roughly around P5,000.

The billing also showed my final diagnosis — “Covid-19 confirmed pneumonia severe viral transiminitis on top of non-alcoholic liver disease.”

It was already dinner time and I have yet to be transferred to the UP facility. After dinner, my parents delivered some good news. They told me someone will cover the five nights of my stay at the private facility. Minutes later, three of my aunts signified to cover three nights. Leaving us only two nights to cover. I could not be thankful enough for the hearts of my family. I am also amazed at how the Lord works to provide us our needs.

Unfortunately, I could not request a transfer to the private facility because the person arranging the transfer said I have already been endorsed to the UP facility. Instead, they suggested that I arrange my transfer to the private facility after my transfer to the UP facility.

It was already 11 p.m. I am still at the ward while the other patients who were also scheduled to be transferred to other facilities have already left. I texted the nurses’ station to ask if my transfer will push through. They said they are just waiting for a vehicle to transfer me.

Eventually, I dozed off to sleep.


DAY 12

My transfer did not push through because there was no vehicle to take me to the facility. Therefore, I made the arrangements to transfer to a private facility.

After breakfast, I called Hotel Midori to check for the availability of a room. Thankfully, there was one room available. The accomodating staff at the other end of the line was kind enough to reserve it for me.

When the doctor did her rounds, I told her of my intention to transfer to a private facility. She was quite supportive of it and assured me that she will make the necessary endorsement that I need.

I almost did not get transferred to the private facility. I received a text from the nurse station that there were no more rooms available at the hotel according to the doctor there. Yikes! I called the hotel to tell them of the situation. Thankfully, the issue was resolved because minutes later the PA system went on and I was told to prepare for my transfer.

At 11 a.m., Ate and my other bed neighbor assisted me towards the exit of the ward. I thanked them and wished them well as we bid our goodbyes. A van was waiting outside ready to transfer me to Hotel Midori.


HOTEL MIDORI

We arrived at the hotel 15 minutes later after leaving SPMC.

A staff in full PPE was waiting to lead me to my air-conditioned room on the third floor. After bringing me to my room, he gave me a briefing of the house rules and took the order for my food for lunch and dinner.

My room at hotel Midori

After he left, I was able to appreciate the spacious room where I will be staying for the remaining days of my isolation.

The queen-sized bed had two pillows and was comfortable. There was also cable TV but I never turned it on. On one corner of the room was a table with the hotel’s care kit — tissue, alcohol, a plate, and utensils. Beside the table was an open closet where I placed my things. The bathroom was big too and the toilet had a bidet. The hotel’s WiFi was quite fast too.

Outside the room, there was a small table where they place your food or things that your friends and family send to you while in isolation.

I spend most of the time at this table. The hotel has cable TV, which can kill the boredom. However, I did not turn on the TV much.

DAY 13 to 20, LAST WEEK OF ISOLATION

The doctor said my health has improved. However, I still have the occasional cough but it was neither frequent nor causing me any problems. The doctor explained that there would be some occasional coughing that could still last for a month. Eventually, I stopped taking the cough medicine because the coughing has become infrequent.

My sleep has also improved. I did not need to play sleeping music just to get me to sleep. I would attribute this to the facility I am in right now. Not being in a hospital environment has somehow helped.

While boredom can be a problem, I was thankful that I have brought my laptop with me. Because of the fast WiFi, I was able to watch videos, series, and movies on Netflix and Youtube.

For the food, the hotel staff would get my order a day before. They have a menu of the food you can order. These are set meals that include two viands (meat and vegetable), a noodle dish, rice, and dessert.

I also did laundry in my room.

I was able to return to work on my 14th day of isolation. However, getting back to work was not easy. I get tired easily that I think on my second or third day back to work, I had to request a sick leave because my blood pressure was unusually high.


DAY 21, FREEDOM DAY

Today was the day when the doctor discharged me from isolation. I was told that I could leave anytime whenever I am ready. The patients will be the ones to arrange for their transport — you can take a taxi or have someone to pick you up.

Packed and ready to go. I did not have proper bags when I left home on the day of admission. Most of my things were in these plastic and eco bags.

A friend was kind enough to pick me up at 10 a.m. to take me home. Another friend was also kind enough to cover the cost of the cleaning, sanitizing, and fogging of my room.

Finally, I am home and now a Covid-19 survivor.


FINAL THOUGHTS and WORDS OF GRATITUDE

Being infected with the Covid-19 was definitely an experience. Not one that I would want to experience again. I could not bear thinking about going through the whole process for another time.

However, I am very thankful that I was able to get my first dose of the vaccine before getting infected. I believe that the vaccine helped cushion the effects of the disease on my body. My oxygen levels remained normal during the whole duration of my isolation. Therefore, I encourage you to get vaccinated. While it does not make you immune to the virus, it reduces the effect of the disease on your body. I observed and based on talks with the healthcare workers and the watchers, most of the senior patients who had their vaccines were also doing better during their treatment at the ward.

When I completed my isolation, I came out with a heart full of gratitude especially to the people whom God sent to help.

I am thankful for all the health workers who have been working tirelessly to treat Covid-19 patients.

Aside from the risk of Covid-19, some of them were working long hours. One of the doctors shared they were working 36hrs straight and just took some naps in between to get a much-needed rest.

Every day the doctors and nurses do their rounds in their full PPEs. Up close, you could see them sweating inside. Sweat would gather on their eyelashes or eyebrows and all they could do is blink several times to somehow rid of the sweat. Aside from this, they have to deal with patients with different personalities and demands. Despite all these, they still managed to care for their patients.

All the nurses I encountered, including those at the ward, have been polite, patient, and caring: from that male nurse who quickly attended to my high fever or that nurse who had to go in full PPE just to put back my dextrose.

I am also grateful for the good neighbors at the ward. My stay there became bearable due to your kindness and willingness to help others.

A big thanks also to the amazing people at Hotel Midori — the doctor, nurses, hotel staff, and administrative staff. Also to their cooks for preparing good food every day.

I am thankful for a very supportive family. Despite not being here in Davao City, my parents and brother were constantly monitoring, praying, and sending words of encouragement to me. I am thankful to Tita Gigi, Tita Inday, and Tita Dars for helping cover the cost at the private facility; Dr. Edwin for guiding us on what to do; Tito Chad who was buying the things I needed; and my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who prayed for my recovery.

I am thankful to the friends and family in Davao City who comforted, checked on, and helped me during my isolation: Beau for buying medicines and bringing my blood samples for a test; Von for buying medicines, picking me up, and sending food; Ninang Ruela for sending the sinabawang gulay and vegetable shakes; Lara, Isa, and Iresse for sending me food; Harvey for covering the cost for the cleaning and sanitation of my room; Emil and Sarah for the care kit; and my CCF and Dgroup family for the prayers and words of encouragement. I am blessed with amazing people like you.

I am thankful for my amazing colleagues at SunStar Davao. To my editorial team – Cristina, Ace, Jennie, Ralph, Mark, Darlah, Sir Wenz, and Jeepy — thank you for working together and holding the fort. You guys did an amazing job. Thank you to the ever-supportive Ma’am Donna for helping with the work arrangements.

On top of all this, I thank God for everything that has happened. While in isolation, I did have my worries and so did my family. We worried about my health and the finances that could incur from my hospitalization. However, we have no control over these things. Therefore, we lifted up all our worries to God and had faith that He will provide for what we need. In my 21-day isolation, I am amazed at how the Lord provided our needs through the people around us. Not only does God provide for our financial needs but also spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional needs.

Thank you, Lord, for the healing. Thank you for providing our needs. Thank you for blessing me with amazing people.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thess. 5:16-18

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Covid-19 is real and I encourage everyone to continue to observe minimum public health standards — wear your mask, wash your hands, observe social distancing. I also encourage you to get vaccinated. The vaccines work. I was vaccinated with Sinovac and the first dose has helped cushion the effects of Covid-19.

Thank you for your time in reading through my experience!


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