The one person I knew who had been monitoring the coronavirus situation from the start was my husband Miguel. As soon as China announced it in the news, he began reading up on it and monitoring its rapid spread.
He started calling for government preparations and practicing the recommended hygiene measures very early on. But his concern seemed unwarranted as the Philippines had only three positive cases for almost a month. However, by the first week of March, the number of cases started to increase little by little.
On March 11, he came home feeling more tired than usual. I did not think much of it, and simply attributed it to his hectic schedule. He was set to attend a wake that night but decided not to go, as he was feeling unwell. Migs hardly ever cancels, unless necessary.
At close to midnight, he developed a low-grade fever. He got a call that said he had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). He immediately began a strict self-quarantine in our bedroom.The children normally sleep with us but that night, the three children and I moved to another room. Our family learned our first lesson in dealing with coronavirus: Do not ignore the small signs and act quickly.
Migs took 1,000 mg of paracetamol, every six hours. He recalls sweating profusely that night and feeling muscle pain, all the way to the morning. He took a total of 10 tablets of paracetamol in a 30-hour span. By Thursday evening, he was feeling a bit better and the low-grade fever had disappeared.
Fortunately, his was a mild case of COVID-19, as he did not experience the sore throat, dry cough and chest/back pains that accompany other cases. He attributes this to his gargling warm salt water, as well as Bactidol, beginning that first night and all through the first week.
This may have helped quell the virus and prevent it from reaching his lungs. By the time he was informed that he was positive, he was no longer experiencing symptoms. He continues to boost his immune system by following his daily regimen of drinking vitamin C plus zinc, multivitamins and CoQ10 antioxidant. He consumes two to three bananas a day for potassium. He also drinks hot ginger tea (salabat) mixed with green tea every hour.
We try to keep the quarantine as effective as possible by following certain rules strictly. Absolutely nobody enters Migs’ room. His food is left in a tray a few meters away from his door. We use only one set of utensils and plates for him and make sure that his plates are kept separate from those of the rest of the household. Aside from Migs’ self-quarantine, we also carried out our own lockdown at home to avoid spreading the virus outside. This was in case he turned out positive, in which case anyone in our household could be a carrier.
Since he turned out positive, lesson No. 2 for us was, when in doubt, it’s best to assume and act as if you already have the virus. It is always better to be safe than sorry, especially around the vulnerable.
The first night he was confirmed positive was the most nerve-wracking for our family. It was a sleepless night for me. Despite all the assurances and statistics of recovery, when a loved one is in that situation, you can’t help but worry. As I tried to sleep, every worst-case scenario would flash before my eyes and keep me awake.
I finally found my peace while praying and fell asleep midway through my Rosary. Ordinarily, I would have felt guilty falling asleep while praying, but just for that night, I like to think it was a gift and a reminder to put my trust in Him.
In the first few days, every little thing that Migs felt in his body gave him anxiety. He worried that it was a symptom of more to come and that the worst was not yet over. He kept himself strong through his health regimen and also took time to get his sunlight for vitamin D. He turned to prayer to calm his spirit, and continues to do so. Finding rhythm in isolation
The first few days in self-isolation were a bit of a change for Migs. As a man who enjoys his work, he is used to being busy and on the go. The abrupt stop and isolation took some time to get used to, but he found his rhythm.
Now, he is using technology to continue getting his work done, within the constraints of the given situation. He joined via teleconference the Senate deliberations and session for the allocation and release of the special budget to manage the coronavirus crisis. He has also been trying to use time as effectively as possible and finding ways to help.
On the first week of his quarantine, he and a group of friends, called the Art Rockers, composed of art-loving individuals and headed by several doctors, were able to purchase about 15,000 test kits from Korea, using personal funds and donations. The test kits are to be distributed to public and private hospitals, for free use of front-liners and symptomatic patients. He continues to work to bring more supplies in and sent to other parts of the country.
One of the fears Migs initially had was passing the virus on to others and the rest of our family. Fortunately, he went into self-quarantine early enough to avoid this. This was the best decision he made.
What Migs still has not quite gotten used to is the separation from family. He is a very loving and devoted family man. For now, he is happy to receive photos and videos. We use Facetime to include him in our activities. We schedule Masses and prayers and watch them livestream at the same time, which makes us feel together.
As I write this, he is still in quarantine, following the doctor’s advice. He continues to practice the recommended health protocols.
We were overwhelmed with messages of support and prayers once word got out on Migs’ results. We are fortunate to have kind and understanding neighbors. We are grateful to friends and family who continue to call and check on us. One of my biggest sources of strength is the religious community of my daughter’s school and our school chaplain, who has been praying with us from day one.
While we navigate our little challenges, we know these are nothing compared to the reality that our front-liners face every day. The numbers are still climbing, and our front-liners continue to fight courageously and selflessly, to keep everyone else safe at home. We are truly grateful for their noble sacrifices and will always be indebted to them.
We all continue to do what we can to help, in our own ways, though it may be a drop in the bucket. But in the long run, we hope all efforts together will be enough to fill up the bucket, flatten the curve and eventually overturn the tide.
When the world is finally able to end this crisis, may we all be better people for it and never take for granted what so many sacrificed their lives for.
Audrey Tan Zubiri, Lifestyle columnist, is the wife of Sen. Miguel Zubiri.