No, it wasn’t me who got it although after yesterday’s trip to the hospital, I might now be a carrier.
This is essentially the narrative of how my brother and our entire family survived this whole ordeal.
My brother contracted the virus a couple of weeks ago. He got fever, got a home rapid test done, and got a “faint” positive. I say “faint” because he said that the positive line for COVID was very faint. He felt confident he’d get better because his only symptom was mild fever. For a week he stayed home but with on and off again low fever. We thought nothing of it; we thought that with rest and meds, he’d pull through, but by Day 6, he was beginning to get worried when his fever spiked to above 38 degrees. By Day 7 he was asking me for help to look for hospitals with vacancies. That was alarming.
I hate phone calls, but I sucked it up because it was my brother’s life on the line here. I called up the hospitals near our place because that’s what I was asked. I called a sister hospital of the one near here in hopes that they’d have a bed. They didn’t. My brother was just put on the waiting list.
I asked friends for help. I asked them if the hospitals near them had any vacant beds. The hospitals there were also full. A friend referred me to the One Hospital Command Center, which was a government service to help people locate hospitals or the medical service they could avail near them. I downloaded the app (Pure Force), entered some private information (which, TBH, scared me at first), and tried to navigate the app. I ended up placing two requests: one with the presidential “line” and another with the general help center. I had cancelled the one that goes straight to the president but apparently it still got through. I explained my situation to both the presidential line and the general help center and around 15 minutes later I got a call from them. I explained my situation again, and they said they’d get back to me. They gave me a reference number so that if they’re not able to get back to me, I can follow up with reference number.
They didn’t get back to me.
About an hour or two later I tried the One Hospital Command FB page to follow up. I got another call and they asked me more info about my brother and when I told them he was all the way in the city and I was in the province, they said they’d just call him first to get the information and get back to me. The TL;DR version is that there still weren’t any hospitals with available beds. They directed me to hospitals that MIGHT have available beds but the hospitals I called either didn’t have any beds or weren’t picking up.
I was beginning to panic. My brother asked around for an oxygen tank because his O2 saturation had dropped,. I asked some friends also, but fortunately, my brother’s doctor friend pulled through and got him a tank. The oxygen tank got delivered that afternoon.
The next day, a friend got me the number of a doctor supposedly from the Rizal province. He advised me to ask if his hospital still had any vacant beds, so I did. The doctor called me instead and asked who gave me his number. I mentioned the name of my friend. Funny story. Turns out the doc didn’t know my friend haha. My friend had gotten it from another friend. Gah.
THANKFULLY, this wonderful doctor accepted my brother as a patient and scheduled a teleconsult with him after his rounds. By 430 pm, my brother had his teleconsult. I don’t know what they talked about except that the doctor ordered some tests for him, but I was able to rest more easily that night especially since my brother said that with the oxygen tank, he was able to bring his saturation up to a high level already.
The next day, when I asked my brother how he felt, he dropped a bombshell. He was already in the ER of the doctor’s hospital WHICH WAS NOT IN RIZAL (too far) but in Quezon City. He had contacted his teleconsult doctor (whom we shall call Doc from hereon) who advised him to go to his hospital’s ER. My brother was nearly turned away by the ER staff because there simply wasn’t room. My brother, always the smart guy, told them that he just needed oxygen, and that he didn’t need a bed. A while later, Doc had seen my brother already and tests were done. Doc called me up since my brother listed me as his caretaker and explained what would happen.
My brother had COVID. They didn’t even need the swab test to confirm it, but they did anyway since it was protocol. His x-ray showed that he had also already developed pneumonia, and this was the reason his fever wouldn’t go away. Doc said that he’d need to be admitted. There wasn’t any vacancy in the hospital, but he already has a bed in the ER and he can stay there until he got a room. Treatment would also already start in the ER.
(It is 1:30 am and I am about to fall asleep. I’m writing this now because I had just arrived home after picking my brother up from the hospital and dropping him off at an aunt’s empty house where he can remain in isolation for a few days as per doctor’s orders)
In the meantime, we sent my brother a few things for him like 2 sets of clothes and underwear, some snacks and bottled water to tide him over until his next meal. Thankfully, even though he was in the ER, he was also already being given meals. I had debated whether or not going to him and keeping him company and being his caretaker, but the risk of exposure to our parents who were both already senior citizens held me back. I hated leaving my brother alone (we all did), but we all kind of agreed to keep our parents safe, so I stayed home.
I coordinated with many people during my brother’s hospital stay. I talked to his housemate in the city to send over some things to my brother. I scheduled deliveries to my brother. I talked to his HMO agent, the PhilHealth agent at the hospital, hospital admitting staff, and Doc. Eventually, my brother got a room after spending a few days in the ER.
In the room, my brother complained that the softer bed made it difficult for him to recreate the position he took on the ER bed. He tried to be comfortable though, but it was difficult because he was on oxygen support. I could sense through his messages that he was becoming more despondent and scared and angry. I chose to focus on his anger. It was a sign that he was still willing and able to fight.
By day 5 he asked the doctors (he had a lot) if they could try stronger medicines for the pneumonia since his x-ray showed no improvement. In fact, it looked like the pneumonia had progressed. They team brought in a pulmonologist to check his xray and sign off on the stronger meds. Doc arrived, looked at the xray, said pneumonia had actually REGRESSED, told my brother to change lying positions, and eventually signed off on stronger meds.
Doc told me all these and said that by the weekend, if his labs and x-ray then show improvement, he can go home.
Fast forward to Sunday noon. I woke up late because I couldn’t sleep properly the night before. As with all my mornings for the week, I woke up asking my brother how he was, and he said surprise they might discharge him today. And then the whole house took on a flurry of panic and excitement. There was panic because we had not anticipated him coming home that day already. We thought the earliest was the next day, Monday, so we were going to clean the house and prepare and yada yada (I’m so sleepy now it’s a quarter to 2am).
My brother said that Doc advised him to isolate for a few more days. I was thinking why couldn’t he just stay in the hospital if he’s going to be isolated anyway but I squashed that thought because people needed the bed my brother was occupying. Thankfully, one of mama’s friends had an empty house nearby. They had moved but they kept the house for rentals, so it meant it was furnished. Nobody was renting it at the moment, so it was perfect. Cleaning was rushed, we separated the front seats from the rest of the car with plastic cover. Then I took the long journey to the city, but with no traffic because of quarantine, it just took a little over an hour.
I had to wait for my brother’s discharge for 5 hours because there was a problem with the billing, BUT ANYWAY MY BROTHER’S ON HIS WAY TO FULL RECOVERY AND WE ARE HOME.
THINGS I LEARNED AND AM GRATEFUL FOR:
- First and foremost, a gazillian thanks to Dr. A.I. for not turning my brother away when he got a strange text from an unknown woman. My family and I are eternally grateful for making sure my brother is doing well. I am grateful because he would give me updates from time to time when the other doctors didn’t (I didn’t have their numbers anyway so I couldn’t nag them). His patience and care for my brother are a few things I will always always carry in my heart with gratitude.
- On this note, if someone in your household starts exhibiting symptoms, SCHEDULE A TELECONSULT ALREADY. It might be what saves your life.
- I am grateful to St. Luke’s Medical Center ER for not turning my brother away. I am sad that hospitals both in the city and in our area (we live south of the city) are all full and hospitals have had to turn away patients. This is horrible. I’ve heard people dying just right outside the emergency room because they couldn’t be accommodated. I’ve seen photos of cars parked outside ERs with fluids and oxygen tanks outside the car while they wait to be admitted inside the ER.
- I am grateful to the Lalamove drivers who took the risk of delivering things to my brother in the hospital. It’s a hotspot for the virus, but they knew they were helping a COVID patient, so my thanks go out to them. As a small token, we gave them all extra money.
- This most recent surge is scary. A lot more people we know are getting sick. I’m scared that I might get sick since I was in the hospital even though i stayed in the car in the parking lot while waiting for my brother. I didn’t even get out of the car when it was time to pick him up. Please please please be safe, everyone.
It is now 2am. It is time to sleep. I’ll post more information in the morning.