My Covid 19 encounter: A Journey In Between

My name is Ms. M., 41 years old and I am a life realist. I always confront life by always accepting realities, every moment of it.  Realities that would break or make me.

I use to anticipate things, for I believe anticipating the worst would sometimes, somehow will save me from a disaster.

I heard a lot about pandemic in our DRRM lectures 3 years ago but it never come to my mind that I would be experiencing pandemic in my lifetime.  

Pandemic is a disaster that rarely exist. I heard in the last quarter of 2019 that Covid 19 have emerged and it is starting to shake the world. I told myself  that I am not exempted and my family to possibly be infected by the virus.

We all knew Covid- 19 is lethal. Well, nature has its own way of cleansing and balancing the ecosystem. Should I say, damaged ecosystem.

Everyday life of a development worker

Being a wanderer for 19 years, I decided to go home in Davao City and settle for job near to my family and experienced the reality of “working from home”. 

At first, I am disturbed but by chance I become one of the members of the plantita enjoying to be at home. I love crops; I love ornamental plants, but planting and nurturing it is not my type.  I am simply afraid of earthworms.

 The pandemic has changed me. I wonder how I become a plantita. For a year now, I keep telling myself to buy a new pair of shoes, but I simply did not. I found myself buying a lot of hanging pots and garden soil. Eventually, it transforms our surrounding into green while the plants are thriving.  I am fascinated with pothos plants.

I became jobless from April 2020 to June of the same year, the height of the ECQ. Again, there is always hope and opportunity. So, I have no choice but to go on a diet by force to save money and cause me to lose 5 kgs.

Thanks to the LGU for the food packs, the everyday ration of lumi and the lugaw. Sometimes I laugh while eating the lumi or lugaw. You know Why? The inconsistent flavour: salty and sometimes tastless. “Sabi ko nalang, baka sleepy pa ang nagtimpla nito kaya ito, salty.  I jump into happiness every time I received food packs from our Barangay but my desire to access cash grant is not my luck.

The wisdom is priceless and I found myself laughing while learning. I used to work in a huge cash grant program in Marawi in 2018, distributing cash to prioritized internally displaced  person (IDP) Families. I also have had several years of experience doing disaster response activities. Years  after, because of Covid 19, the table turned to another direction. I can now distinguish the feeling of being a mere recipient waiting for for the  relief goods and distributing relief goods.

The online world became more vibrant in 10 folds. During the ECQ, “nakigulo din ako sa online”. You might say, I am a liar, but Youtubing is never my thing, but I came to learn and enjoy youtube during ECQ. I took advantage of youtube and educated myself through tutorials, learning basic graphic design and emanated to love it, and as of now, still learning and is currently subscribing Canva Pro.

Online selling becomes a good option while at home

Online selling becomes a new trend and I let myself in, “nakisali din ako”.  I cook binignit or ginataan and sell it online. Since I don’t have motorcycle, so I deliver the orders by riding a public utility [Jeep] with all the mask, alcohol and face shield.   I bought a handy box where I placed the binignit in tub and have it with me during my scheduled delivery. It was hard. Some costumers are great. They even give me a token and the funny side was, there was this prominent woman, a politician, “nagreklamo sa 10 pesos na dagdag sa rate for the delivery.”

The most exciting was, some of my regular customers are rich and others are working class. Those rich who bought and enjoyed my binigbit were so kind and I am grateful for their trust especially leaving me their own contact numbers. Sabay sabi lang na, “Ms M, huwag mo e- share ang contact number ko sa iba ha.”

Well, about the profit? Got a small amount of profit, but I mastered how to cook a highly delicious binignit and there are people too who want a super special binignit but is not willing to pay the right amount. “Hindi po libreng pinipitas ang mga ingredients. I stopped cooking because I’m always thinking “the what if drama”. Hindi malayong magka- covid ako, and I might infect my customer or the other way around. My customer might have it and could infect me. Goodbye binignit! Goodbye my Binignit Customers!

So, in July 2020, the new me went back to work in the context of the new reality. I have been doing fieldwork for 19 years and suddenly it stopped and caught unprepared and settle in a “work from home” arrangement.  I felt like having a fever every time there is a zoom meeting. It’s not easy to be in a zoom room because my life was never in a virtual world and I was not use to it. My life is in the field, in the community.

Confusion of COVID-19 symptoms starts

The most spectacular and anticipated moment have arrived.

In November 19, 2020, while staying in my room, I felt the symptoms. I experienced fever, body pain, and sleepless nights. I immediately took my medicine and my fever was gone.

After 3 days, the symptoms were back including other symptoms. It was intense that I am having a hard time breathing. I told myself clearly that this is it.

I know what to do because I already learned a lot from few colleagues who were infected ahead of me. Luckily, they ‘graduated’ graduated happily from their isolation journey. So, I slowly packed up my things, and I know I’ll be on 14- day of vacation in an isolation center. Instead of being sad, I chose to be excited because I know I’ll be meeting a lot of people and hopefully gain new friends.

Feeling optimistic despite of the challenge

Wait. I know what you are thinking. You might tell me that I am over positive and assuming that I am not afraid of Covid-19. I understand how deadly the virus is and I also understand I am standing in between.  I prepared myself for it.

To keep my family informed, I communicated my brother. I told him, if ever my life will come to an end anytime, they already knew where to go and how to access my death benefits [St. Peter].

My only regret that time was, I don’t have a cremation plan. But libre naman ang cremation sa government. Napaisip na lang ako ano kaya ang design ng URN ko. Gusto ko kasi mamahalin at desente naman.  Aba, choosy pa ako sa lagay na ‘yon ha? I have a high regard in cremation when it comes to keeping the dead one. It is convenient and clean. My late mother and brother were cremated. It was before the Covid 19 series. Hindi naman po sila nagka-Covid.

My diary starts

Well, let’s go back to my bag packing story. After packing things and sending information to my brother,  I brought my mobile broadband with me and a laptop. I called our dearest Barangay Personnel and informed them that I am experiencing symptoms and I volunteer to undergo swabbing. After few hours of calls and coordination, they managed to schedule me and they got me from my house and went to the swabbing center.

The line was quite long and it looked like people were trying hard to be in the line and to get relief. I am in the que to undergo the free Covid -19 swab test.

I patiently waited but heart was beating faster because during that time I am 99% sure that I am infected with COVID-19. Promise, takot ako sa long nasal swab test. Sabi kasi ng iba masakit daw.  While still on the line,  I am experiencing fever and hard breathing.

Day 1: After that, I brought to a huge school campus, which as improvised facility. A temporary facility, which holds individuals while waiting for their swab test results to come after 3 to 5 days.

Upon arrival into the facility, there was a short orientation and I am observing many things. I saw vast supplies of bottled water. Eventually, I talked to myself,  Oh God, after pandemic, the plastic bottles waste would be triple than the usual tons per year. And I heard it right, the food is free. If you need vitamins, coffee, and biscuit, just send a text to the assigned cell numbers, after few minutes you’ll get right at your room.

My space was in the 3rd floor of the building. There were three of us in the room and we were assigned with our own folding bed and a set of beddings.

After few minutes, I started greeting my roommates. They look like ok while I am disturbed and running out of breath. Mind you, during that time, I brought nothing except my outfits in a huge bag and a pail with some packs of detergent and bath soap. I failed to bring any of my available food nor vitamin.

I experienced the feeling of emptiness while staying in the holding facility. It happened because I don’t have anyone to ask for and to buy food for me that day. Maybe, I was just excited to go to the facility that I forgot to bring my own ready to eat food.

My experiences in the facility taught me sad truth. I saw some people who only depend on food ration, just like me. Have nothing on the table except our own clothes. As much as I wish to have, a lot of fruits and essential food supplements but I brought nothing except clothes and beauty regiments.

Day 2:  I was grateful. My ousins and friends sent me lots of fruits, foods, and vitamins. I am a generous person but during that time it’s a “No” in the isolation facility. By the way the food is catered, and its delicious, promise!

My sleepless night started that I felt being tortured. Imagine, how could you sleep when you experienced worst body pains and hard to breath? No oxygen support. I keep telling my self, I can manage because I am afraid to be brought to a nearest

Day 3:  In the holding facility, my feeling was becoming worst. I felt extreme back pain and I imagined that the viruses were feasting my lungs while I have a high fever. I also felt needles, as poking on my lungs, and I do not know why.

I don’t know if I am idiot that time, I know there is no medicine and to ease my suffering I called up my landlord, who happens to be a Physician and asked him and he could me give a medicine prescription. I just want to have an antibiotic for my cough. Dry Cough. Hahahahha.  After few minutes, I got the prescription through email and my officemate bought the medicines and sent it to me in the holding facility.

It was five (5) antibiotics good for 5 days. I experienced dry cough and its one of the highlights when you are positive of Covid -19. I sleep all day. I only stand by force every time I need to go to the toilet. It was a total torture on my part. Every time I moved my brody, I run out of breathe. No one could help me there. Sabi ko, dry cough lang ito. Every time I exert effort, the more disturbed my breathing was.  I keep texting the facility in-charge about my breathing experience but they just gave me a cough tablet. LOL.

I experienced that for last 7 days. Most of my first 5 days in the facility, I spent it in resting, lying down on a folding bed. Conditioning my self to relax.

While lying for how many days, I can hear some people in other rooms, laughing, singing, feasting their foods, while enjoying the music. They too were covid positive but they are not weak.

So, I told myself if ever I’ll be free, I will eat a lot of food, I will dance and sing and even hear out loud my favorite alternative music like I used to during my normal days.

I just could not understand why some people out there praying hard that their swab result would be negative even if they are experiencing almost all the symptoms of the virus. I always believe in God but I also have a high respect in Science.

During my  5th day of waiting, a lady called me in a comforting voice, informing me the result. Of course, she said “its positive.” I immediately replied, I know, and its expected.

The experience Covid- 19+in the Isolation facility

Oh, wait, I almost forgot to share that my first 5 days in the facility, taught me to patiently drink ginger in a hot water with a pure calamansi  juice [5 pieces calamansi every hour]. A lot for 5 days. And I can really feel the mystery. I also add fresh bananas, apples, and a lot of orange to my everyday catered food and drink more of water.

 Day 6: I was transferred to an isolation facility located in a large gymnasium with 64 spacious cubicles, painted all in white. Each cubicle has a colorful curtain, 2 light bulbs, folding bed with a bedding, electric fan, a long white plastic table, plastic chair, and a bible. The space is so relaxing. So, I came prepared. I have my globe broadband, I brought my laptop, my utensils, pair of slippers, a speaker for my favorite music,  I have my own pail for the laundry and personal essentials too. My cousin also sent me a lot of foods and fruits.

Day 7: I do not know where the power come from, but I feel better. I can now breathe normally. I can awake up early to take a bath, do my laundry, and walking around the whole area, as if nothing happens.

I am enjoying my days in the isolation facility. I was able to have some acquaintances. There was also a space where I get to enjoy the morning dew and the heat of the sun. It is essential if you are experiencing covid 19.

Day 9: [fast forward]. The isolation facility in charge called me to undergo x – ray and during that time, I started asking myself of my lung’s status.

After that, I started working while on the isolation facility, attended and co facilitated 5- day zoom webinar while still in the white cubicle. I never forget my daily dose of ginger and calamansi.

Every day is a fun day. I love taking photos. If you want to see some, I could share it to you. Hahahah.

Sometimes, I go out in the laundry area to say hi and hello to my new acquaintances. Most of them are stressing themselves by counting days, when to graduate from Covid-19 course. I just smile and keep quiet but I almost told them that, “you know friends, time is so mysterious and if you add emotion to it, time will go slow or it might go fast, and in your case, days will go slow if you keep on counting it.” However, I prefer not to speak.

The exit comes

The personnel of the isolation facility told me that I am schedule to discharge from the facility by December 10, 2020. You know, instead of feeling happy, I felt so sad 2 days prior to my exit.

You know if I have given the chance, I could have asked to extend my stay in the facility for another 2 days. I already loved the facility not because of the delicious food they served but I just do not know why. I felt relax and already happy there.  A feeling of tranquility that I have never felt for the almost 2 -decade. Maybe because, for the last few years, I was restless, trapped with a lot worries, catch a lot deadlines, and going everywhere.

I started packing my things on the 15th day and requested my cousin to pick me up. I said goodbye to new found friends in the facility. Feeling relieved, happy, and humbled. No more pain.

Before I finally left the facility, I got my x -ray result saying that my lungs are all clear. I have this belief that it was the calamansi and ginger plus fruits who fought the virus. I think my 5-month detox session [5 years ago] has paid off to easily recover from the deadly virus.

I understand that I might caught Covid 19 anytime. Our invisible enemy is always in the corner.

We live in an engineered world. Some of our foods are genetically- modified. Our water is chlorinated.

Everything around us is almost using chemical. But one thing I surely believe, natures healed me.

I think we need to lessen our processed food intake, go choose natural, plant vegetable, eat more fruits, drink more water and don’t forget to detox once in a while.

My insights and discernment while inside the facility

  1. My heart bleeds seeing those people who have limited means to buy food supplements while experiencing Covid 19. Although the government is doing so hard but they also have their own limitation.
  2. Practice awareness. By visiting our thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions, we will be able to understand what’s going on inside of us.
  3. I am a realist and I understand that death is certain and unpredictable. I am God’s believer and during that moment of in between, I might survive over the virus or not. All I can do is to surrender. I cleared my mind and one time, I whispered to God that I am ok and ready whatever happens. I understand some readers might judge me that I am a selfish but it’s you own. At the end of the day, I cannot it. No, I am fully aware that I have my son and a brother but we cannot avoid death. Death is part of the nature and who Am I to defy the reality of nature. We can never run away with death.
  4. I think all we need to do while we are still alive is to glorify our Creator. Be a realist and never allow yourself to be dictated by anyone.  Read a lot and free your mind and soul. Respect nature, love deeply no matter what.
  5. Teach your children to segregate garbage. Avoid being judgemental. Have peace with yourself and others, dance, sing and hear out loud the music you love.
  6. Eat your favourite food but eat less. Detoxify occasionally. Cook your favourite food, taste that wine sold in the convenient store and eat cake.
  7. Exercise. Enjoy the rain, the sunset and the sunrise. Plant green leafy vegetables. Take a lot of photos. Plant fruit trees, for your children and future grandchildren.
  8. Always reach out to friends and neighbors. Have fun every time. Enjoy saving an amount every month. Turn your surrounding into green.

Life is just so simple. All we need to do is to find that way back to simplicity, and stuck in there. So that when your mortality ends, you will regret nothing.

Again, its me, M and this is my Covid-19 Story.  As of now, obviously I am still alive and wandering.

With love and light. Cheers!

Ms. M.

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