To protect the family’s privacy, the byline and names in this story have been changed.—Ed
“It could be heat stroke,” I told my husband Jacob. It seemed like the hottest summer day in March, and he complained about the heat, saying it felt like his entire body had absorbed the sun. He had just come home from his Saturday morning bike ride, one day before the lockdown. I remember the exact moment I discovered Jacob’s fever. It was early evening and he complained that he still felt hot. He registered a temperature of 37.8 and even if the fever wasn’t that high, my stomach turned and instinct kicked in.
I silently hoped for heat stroke as I shoved him inside our bedroom and told him sternly not to come out. I raised my voice and gave the same orders to our kids and my 71-year-old mom: “Get inside your rooms and stay in there until I say so!” Suddenly I found myself in the very quiet living room, alone with our chihuahua. He stared at me as I put on a mask and began maniacally disinfecting the entire house with alcohol—door knobs, light switches, refrigerator handles, tables, chairs, remote controls, electric fan switches.
Jacob and I decided he would get a check-up in the emergency room (ER) to treat heat stroke, since he may need an IV line to prevent dehydration. But we also knew the ER wasn’t the safest place to be during a pandemic.
Reluctantly, I sent him off to the hospital and, after an eternity, he called and told me it wasn’t heat stroke. I felt disappointed. His blood test showed a systemic viral infection. With only one symptom, he didn’t qualify for a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test. He was advised to go home and monitor himself for other symptoms, and if his condition worsens.
Living in the Upside Down
Jacob stayed locked up in our room, and so did my kids and mom in their respective rooms. The living room became my bedroom, and the days revolved around preparing food, but not before heavily dousing my hands with alcohol and securing the mask around my face, after which I would drop off meals at their doors.
In between cooking, cleaning up and disinfecting, I would be on work-from-home mode, reading and sending out emails as well as taking calls. Nothing felt normal—it was like living in the Upside Down as depicted in the series “Stranger Things.”
Day 6 was the turning point as Jacob’s fever came back, this time registering 38.1. He showed signs of malaise and wasn’t eating or drinking, looked extremely weak, felt nauseated and had a stomach ache.
This time, he wasn’t well enough to drive himself, so I drove us to the ER. I felt genuinely afraid while waiting there. I imagined the air we were breathing was full of coronavirus, and pictured the virus as microscopic bugs with wings flying all around us.
I soon learned that my imagination was far from what a virus actually is—nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) enclosed in protein—and to this day, there are still debates on whether it is merely a nonliving chemistry set or an actual living organism.
Because the COVID-19 results would take another two to eight days, we went home and decided to move out and isolate in a different location to keep our kids and my mom safe.
We received Jacob’s positive COVID-19 test results after waiting for nine excruciating days.
Nutrition and essential oils
Even before the test results were released, I was treating Jacob like a COVID-19 patient. I was fortunate to have been consulting with our family’s nutritionist on how to prepare meals while fighting off the infection. While Jacob is a generally fit and healthy 52-year-old athlete, he also has an underlying condition. In 2015 he was diagnosed with heart disease and had an angioplasty. Thanks to our nutritionist, who offered wonderful advice and care, he recovered well, but admittedly it became a new concern now.
While treating Jacob at home, I continued to consult with our nutritionist. I fed him bone broth, one to two organic eggs a day, 3,000 mg of vitamin C, 60 mg of zinc, oregano oil capsules, steamed green, leafy vegetables, raw vegetables like carrot sticks, Greek yogurt, fruits like bananas, papaya, mangoes and avocado. He drank fresh brewed salabat (ginger tea) with raw honey and calamansi three times a day. I used essential oils by putting a drop of lemon or wild orange (or both) in his water. I constantly diffused essential oils like oregano and melaleuca in his room, hoping to eliminate any virus and bacteria in the air. He also ingested an essential oils blend dropped inside a vegetable capsule three to five times a day. It was crucial that I consulted with a friend who was well educated in essential oils, since some oils are dangerous when ingested.
I also continued to incorporate extra-virgin coconut oil daily in his food as I had been doing for the last five years since his heart disease diagnosis, the dosage as prescribed by our nutritionist.
He stepped out in the garden for his daily dose of sunlight while earthing. I learned that sunlight itself doesn’t provide us with vitamin D, but instead allows the production of vitamin D in our body, which is good for immune health.
I am not suggesting or saying that what I mentioned thus far are cures for COVID-19. I am simply sharing how I treated my husband while he was sick. And with God’s grace and healing, he got better; 67 days after his first symptom manifested, he was finally declared COVID-19-free.
It was an ordeal being constantly on high alert, paranoid about getting infected myself. I have an underlying condition as well, asthma, and have suffered bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis some time ago.
I would feel the onset of sore throat and panic. I lost my sense of smell and taste completely for three weeks and attributed this to allergies.
Sleeping was difficult. My anxiety level was at its peak, like never before in my 47 years of life. It felt impossible to pray and meditate. My fear and anxiety paralyzed me spiritually.
But one morning, while attempting to pray as I desperately waited for Jacob’s COVID-19 test results, a rush of emotions washed over my whole being and I heard my mind speak: “Dear God, grant me the grace to accept whatever outcome there may be, the courage to face it, the strength to endure and the wisdom to discern what actions to take (or not to take) toward a solution.”
And then, as tears flowed from my eyes, I surrendered completely to my vulnerability. It was beautiful and liberating as the burden was lifted.
It’s been 95 days since that unforgettable day in March, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I, my kids, and my mom have stayed healthy, while Jacob has recovered. We pray with all who suffer the pain of loss and continue to experience hardship.
I believe each of us has been changed by coronavirus, and we are all being taught lessons we need to learn.
The prayer I heard in my mind became my new mantra, deepening my faith and gratitude.
The experience taught me the truth about the author Salliji’s teaching in her book “Cosmic Arrangement”: “Prayer is talking to God; meditation is listening to God.”
Most of all, I learned the beauty of surrendering completely with trust, and what a liberating, healing and blissful discovery it has been. —CONTRIBUTED INQ