Last year, Covid-19 was simply something that brought everything to a halt. Plans, business, and trips have all been stalled as a result. All of my plans for 2020 have been postponed because of the pandemic. I wanted to go back to Singapore or Siargao. I wanted to save money on whatever projects we’ll be working on through our PR and events consultancy. We were about to leave for Coron last year to do an ocular at a resort with which we were supposed to work, but the country was locked down just about a week before our flight.
The quarantine. I tried counting down the days until it was lifted, but eventually gave up. I’m not even sure if we’re still under quarantine or not because the government keeps changing the name and guidelines, and I’ve lost track. But one thing remained constant: my nanay never stopped caring for her patients. A number of doctors in Santa Rosa Laguna have ceased practice for fear of contracting the virus. But not my nanay. “Kung oras mo, oras mo na,” it sounds like a line from a Pinoy action film, but that’s how my nanay sees life. I, on the other hand, am the anxious woman.My anxiety would wake me up on some nights. I’m concerned about the uncertainty of everything: my job, my friendships, and my health. But it got better, and while I’m still worried now and then, it wasn’t as bad after a few months in the lockdown.
I’m concerned about my nanay. I simply don’t show it, but I do. She’s a frontliner, and her clinic is just around the corner. She’s constantly exposed to her patients, so it’s no surprise that Covid eventually hit us. I was still hoping it wouldn’t happen. That there would be some sort of invisible shield protecting her and me. But that wasn’t the case. On May 27, 2021, we took her to the hospital for an X-ray and PCR test. Dra Mitch, our doctor friend, informed me that she has pneumonia. On May 29, we received confirmation she is positive with Covid. We had to persuade her to be admitted, so her doctor friends set up a room for her and myself at the Perpetual Help Hospital in Binan, Laguna. As far as I know, I wasn’t still sick at the time, but I knew I needed to visit my nanay in the hospital. By doing so, I also knew that I would eventually catch the virus, but I was just hoping that if that happened, I’d still be able to care for her.
It’s been a while since both my nanay and I were hospitalized. When I had my hysterectomy in 2017, that was the last time I had to be admitted. I was mostly alone because my nanay had to go to her clinic. To be honest, I can’t recall the last time my nanay was confined. When my sister and I were kids, the hospital, specifically Perpetual, was our playground. When our nanay had her rounds, we would accompany her. We used to run around the floor where the ICU was because my nanay usually had patients there who were in critical condition. We would sometimes hang out at the nurse’s station, attempting to read the charts. I was not afraid of going to the hospital until I got older and realized that the people I would visit who were confined in a hospital would eventually die. It’s no longer my favorite place to be, so imagine having to stay there for ten days with my nanay, who is sick with Covid and pneumonia.
The Covid ward only had a small number of nurses working there. After staying there for a few days, I was able to identify who was who and which was which. When I asked a nurse why, he replied that nurses are afraid to be placed on the Covid ward for fear of contracting the virus or, worse, bringing it home to their families. Reasonable and easily understandable. My nanay contracted an infection from a patient who visited her clinic, checked himself into the hospital, but died after leaving. I felt mentally exhausted after our time there. I was unable to express how difficult it was for me to see my nanay ill and dependent on IV medications to treat both her pneumonia and Covid. I had to be the independent daughter who seemed prepared for anything but would often crumble when she was sleeping. I was unable to sleep at one point because of her fluctuating oxygen levels, which would drop if she wasn’t connected to an oxygen tank. To make sure she was okay, I would check her oxygen level almost every 30 minutes. My sister, a nurse working abroad, would contact her via Facebook Messenger just to see how we were doing. Additionally, I was terribly missing my dog Noodle. While we’re away, we made arrangements for him to stay with a friend.
I’m grateful that my nanay had really good specialists who would visit her. These were her students back when she had a short stint teaching at the university of the hospital. They took good care of her. Even though I decided to wear a PPE and mask the entire time, day six when I tested positive for Covid. My nanay’s pulmo advised me to monitor what I’m feeling. The day after, I lost my sense of smell. It was so weird. I started getting really anxious but still wasn’t showing my nanay that I was extremely bothered by it. Other than that, and coughing from time to time, I didn’t have any symptoms. My nanay was starting to become restless inside our room. She wanted to go home. I also wanted to go home but her oxygen level was still unstable so we had to stay there for a few more days. Until the 10th day, we were cleared to leave the hospital. I was still a few days in being positive for Covid but since other than my missing sense of smell and body pain, I was feeling fine. Worried that my nanay’s oxygen level was still fluctuating, I hooked her on a tank. As for me, at times I’d feel out of breath and sluggish.
We’ve been virus-free for a few months now. Our lives have returned to normal after receiving all of the necessary vaccinations. As thankful as I am that Nanay and I are safe, I’ve never been fully joyful because many people, friends, family of friends, and acquaintances, did not survive. They were defeated by the worst and fastest killer we’d ever encountered. The worries that would keep me awake in the middle of the night have vanished, and they have been replaced by the trauma that remains from what I’ve gone through. I want to go out, see my friends, and go to the beach, but a big part of me won’t let me because I’m afraid of getting sick again. How I wish I could be like my nanay, who is back at work and still sticking to her action star motto. But, once again, I’m grateful to our family and friends for their prayers and support. I’ve never been religious, but all of the prayers seemed to help. Every night, I prayed for healing and strength, and God answered. You never know what tomorrow will bring, so live each day as if it were your last. Make the decisions you want to make without harming other people. Learn the things you want to learn while having fun. Never listen to the doubters; instead, follow your heart. I simply hope that things will return to some semblance of normalcy very soon and that I will be able to live a life free from fear.
FUCK YOU, COVID!