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Rappler is republishing this with permission from Carlo Llanes Navarro, PH4 who recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
My Covid19 experience – March 5, 2020
I was COVID-19 patient no. 4. As patient no. 4, I was the first Filipino to be confirmed positive after a lull of more than a month following the three Chinese travelers from Wuhan.
Where did I get it? We have our suspicions.
We knew we were taking a risk by travelling to Japan. At that time, Japan was not yet battling with community transmission. There were no rules yet on quarantine for returning passengers.
In Tokyo, we thought we were making-up for the risk by always wearing our masks, vigorously washing and rubbing our hands with alcohol and Thieves essential oil, and wearing disposable latex gloves which we regularly changed and threw away throughout our five days there.
We took our flight back home on February 25, Tuesday.
Gia and Evie sat together in one row and I in another. Behind me was a Filipino man coughing vigorously. Nothing could be done and we sat in that plane for more than 4 hours. We had our masks on the whole time. We suspect this is where I picked-up the virus.
Seven days later, on March 3, I came down with chills and a low-grade fever (sinat) of 37.7 C.
Days before symptoms appeared, I did not report to work. That night of March 3, I decided to play it safe and that I be immediately tested. St. Luke’s hospital did not see the need to test me. The hospital said my symptoms were mild, and Japan is not a Covid-19 hotspot.
I insisted. I had to insist! I was tested. I was discharged. I went home in BGC.
At this time, Evie was in Lipa and she instructed Gia and our helper to stay in Evie’s mom’s nearby place in BGC to isolate.
On March 5, Thursday, I had no more fever, but felt muscle pains and had a bad cough. I received the frightening call from the DOH that evening. I was promptly whisked away by an ambulance to RITM in Alabang.
Gia was frantic and started calling Evie in Lipa. The next day, my entire household had themselves tested – our drivers included.
At this point, while in RITM, I prayed fervently to spare all of them. My mind was raising with scenarios that Evie and Gia wouldn’t survive in RITM. All their tests came back negative. Thank God! All I need now is to worry about myself.
It is easy to take the symptoms for granted. A cough. Sore throat. Muscle pains. One need not have a high fever to be Covid-19 positive. Looking at the DOH spreadsheet, one can even be totally asymptomatic.
The DOH Spreadsheet reveals that there are those who have had symptoms since February and early March who were only now tested and confined. This means that unbeknownst to them, the virus was spreading inadvertently by their non-quarantine and late testing.
For two weeks in the hospital, it was not the physical pain that is frightening! It was the psychological effect that made it difficult. I was vomiting endlessly and had diarrhea probably due to stress.
While in confinement, I learned so many things which is probably why God put me to that test!
I realized that ignorance and inaction will cause the virus to spread faster. That should anyone experience ANY symptoms, they should stay home and limit contact with others. They should NOT shrug-off any symptoms and downplay them. This community quarantine is something we need to protect the people that we love.
To my family, I was brave. I did not choose to get sick. But as soon as I did, I immediately had myself tested. I allowed myself quarantined in a hospital deprived of staff and funds. I was not in the most comfortable situation.
Because I got myself quickly tested, by my immediate confinement, I shielded my elderly parents. I shielded our senior household helpers. I shielded my family.
When people are NOT tested, they can walk around and socialize thinking they just have a cold or slight malaise.
Because I disclosed being infected to my workplace according to company protocol, all my contacts were tested by the Department of Health and quarantined. The DOH advised me that so far, my contacts have been cleared and are asymptomatic. For this, I am grateful.
We are still covering everyone and ourselves with prayer. So, God protect and bless us all.
In the two weeks I was in a hospital, I learned that there were many people who cannot afford a lockdown. They do not have food to survive! Our society has not given the proper dignity to our labor – depressed wages, poor working conditions.
I immediately took care of this when I was discharged from the hospital! I made sure that all the hands that feed us and help us will be financially capable to handle issues like this in the future!
I learned about the extraordinary love of my wife and daughter. Evie and her cousin, Annette, looked for people in the government that could help me while in RITM. Evie, together with her sister, Gela, tirelessly looked for a hospital that will take me in. Each and every one was refusing to take me in. I was desperate because the pneumonia that I acquired was from the hospital. I was coughing profusely, and chills were getting worse by the day. She kept me company for hours and days to keep me psychologically and emotionally sane! She prayed with me profusely! She called on people to pray for me. I knew I married right!
One day I heard a nurse say that there was an old man who tested positive and was waiting for a room in RITM. I cannot stay there anymore! And finally, God intervened. A hospital agreed to take me!
On day 15, I was discharged from the hospital with no symptoms! I never knew my test results and perhaps will never know. I know those doctors are busy with more severe and critical cases.
Today, I am thankful for the prayers and well wishes of friends and family! I may not have responded to you at my darkest hours, but I will remember and will be forever grateful for you.
God bless us all and keep safe!