You know those times when you watch or hear news about something horrible happening to other people and you think to yourself, “What are the chances of that happening to me? Not impossible but the chances are probably slim because we’re being careful.”
That’s kind of what was in my head last year when Covid-19 first happened. Of course, I knew it was dangerous. Our family was scared and so, we definitely took precautions seriously. However, back then we didn’t know anyone close to us at all who got it. It was always a friend of a friend or a relative of a friend.
So, yeah, it was super scary. But because we didn’t personally know anyone who got it, it didn’t feel that close to us back then. That changed a few months ago.
Before I knew it, people I actually knew started getting Covid. People I actually knew started dying from Covid. It was getting a little too close for comfort. But because hubby and I work from home and we homeschool, we knew we were at least a lot safer than those who had no choice but to leave home for work or school.
Jon only went out of the house once a week to buy groceries. We sanitized every single item he brought home. We also sanitized all the packages we got from online shopping. We never accepted visitors at home nor did we visit anyone.
And yet we found ourselves with Covid-19 a few weeks ago.
Let me share our story and the lessons we’ve learned. This is going to be a long one, so brace yourselves.
- Jon has been fully vaccinated with Sinovac since May. He’s hypertensive and has asthma. With these comorbidities, he was able to join the first few batches of people who were vaccinated.
- Our daughter, Ziya, and I had had only one dose of Moderna, a few days before our Covid journey.
- Our kids, Ziggy (10 years old) and Zander (4 years old at that time), were unvaccinated. Vaccines for kids are still not available here at the time of this writing.
- We live in an apartment building. My in-laws live in the unit right below ours. Our unit has three bedrooms (with one converted into an office/schoolroom) and only one bathroom.
Aug. 19 – Jon and I, took our 3 kids (Ziya, Ziggy, and Zander) to the Solaire vaccination site. (Note: our eldest, Zoe, lives with her dad and so she’s only with us occasionally.) Ziya and I were scheduled for our first dose of Moderna that day.
It was a drive-thru vaccination site. We all stayed in the van the whole time and the entire process took only 30 minutes.
It was later that day when Jon had his first symptom. He said that he just felt so tired, like he was about to get asthma. He didn’t feel anything else the entire weekend.
Aug. 23 – I woke up that Monday with body pains. I just assumed it was PMS, which normally happens to me the week before my period comes. Jon had a headache that night and had trouble sleeping.
Aug. 24 – Jon woke up with a fever. The fever went away after taking meds but he felt body pains all day and had diarrhea. I had a sore throat on this day.
Aug. 25 – By this day, Jon already had cough and colds and so did I. I decided it was time to get tested. Ziya didn’t have any symptoms but I wanted all of us adults (she’s 18 years old) to get tested just to be sure. We found out that night that Jon and I were positive. Ziya was negative.
When we found that out, we had our boys, Ziggy and Zander, take a rapid saliva antigen test. Both of them tested negative.
With some of us negative, we decided it would be safer for those without Covid-19 to stay somewhere else. We only had one bathroom and couldn’t possibly avoid sharing it.
Thankfully, my in-laws live downstairs from us and so we let them take Ziya and Ziggy downstairs where they could quarantine in a spare bedroom with its own bathroom. We let Zander stay with us though because he doesn’t go anywhere without me. He doesn’t sleep without me beside him. He doesn’t even let anyone else give him a bath except for me.
Aug. 27 – Ziggy started getting cough and colds so we immediately had him take the RT-PCR test that day. We had Zander tested too just to be sure. Ziggy had fever on this day and vomited a few times.
Aug. 28 – We learned Ziggy was positive. So, we had him come back and quarantine with us. Zander tested negative but still remained with us.
Ziya remained asymptomatic, but since she had close contact with Ziggy, we still had her complete the 14-day quarantine by herself in the room downstairs.
Aug. 28 – Sept. 7 – These were the hardest days in our whole Covid-19 journey. Both Jon and I were sick but we still had to take care of two kids and monitor Ziya from afar (via text and video calls). We still had chores to do. We also continued to work although I slowed down considerably.
Honestly, there were days I didn’t know if I could survive this without being hospitalized. I would lie in bed in the middle of the night suffering alone with a high fever, praying to God for all of it to be over.
There were times when even standing up and going to the bathroom would tire me out so bad. There were days I had to shower sitting down. Even talking would make out of breath.
I was plagued with worry. It didn’t help that I also suffer from an anxiety disorder. But it did help that I was also taking medication for it.
Sept. 8 – By this time, all of us were done with the 14-day quarantine. But we still didn’t allow Ziya to come back up yet because, on this day, Zander started getting cough and colds plus fever. His pediatrician said to just continue monitoring him and prescribed some medicines.
Sept. 9 – Ziggy and I had our blood test and chest x-rays done, as requested by our doctors. We had a mobile medical van come to our place. Zander was still unwell and so our pediatrician asked that we have him tested already.
Sept. 10 – Zander had his blood tests and second RT-PCR done. Ziggy and I got our blood test and x-ray results. His chest was clear but his blood test showed slight anemia. Otherwise, he was fine. Yay! He just had to start taking iron supplements that day.
I, on the other hand, learned I had pneumonia. My blood test results were mostly normal though and showed just a few high levels, which my doctor said was consistent with someone who had Covid. She said the results were actually not bad compared to those who have serious Covid. I started taking my second round of antibiotics that day, this time to treat pneumonia.
Sept. 11 – It was Jon’s birthday. We just celebrated by ourselves by having food delivered. People sent food too. But the greatest gift ever was Zander’s blood test and RT-PCR test results that we received on this day too. His blood tests were all normal and he was STILL negative for Covid despite being with all Covid positive people for weeks! It turns out he just had the usual flu. What a miracle!
Sept. 12 – It was Zander’s 5th birthday. We celebrated by ourselves again. It was not the celebration I had initially planned with a Batman cake and decor and extra special food. Zoe was supposed to come but, of course, now she couldn’t. But we were super grateful that, at least, Zander was Covid negative.
Sept. 16 – We were finally able to go out but only for me and Ziya to take our second dose of Moderna. Jon took Ziya first, in the morning. I didn’t go because I thought I wouldn’t be eligible yet since I just had pneumonia and was still coughing.
But Jon asked the people in charge at the vaccination site and was told that as long as I was done with my antibiotics, I could take the second dose. So, Jon took Ziya home (downstairs) and then took me (with our boys) to get my shot. Again, this was a drive-thru vaccination site so we all just stayed inside our van.
Sept. 20 – I hired professional cleaners to clean and disinfect our house. I wanted to make sure that it was completely safe for Ziya to come back. The cleaners were here for 8 hours! Then, that night, Ziya finally came home!
Our whole Covid-19 journey lasted almost a month and it’s so horrible that I wouldn’t wish it on even my worst enemy.
As well all know by now, Covid-19 affects different people in different ways too and that was apparent with us.
Jon: Fever (one day only), cough and colds, fatigue, sore throat, insomnia, body pains, headache, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, diarrhea, got exhausted easily
Ziggy: Fever and vomiting (one day only), cough and colds, sore throat
Me: Fever for 10 days (on and off high fever from day 4 up to day 10), cough and colds, pneumonia, fatigue, sore throat, body pains, headache, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, got exhausted easily
I guess you can say that Ziggy had it the easiest. Jon and I were considered to be moderate cases although I think I bore the brunt of it.
Jon started getting better around Day 10 and his symptoms stopped around that time too. I, on the other hand, didn’t get diagnosed with pneumonia until Day 16.
Oh, and did I mention that I got my period too on days 6 – 10 of my Covid journey? Yes, I did. Certainly, did NOT make things any easier for me.
Covid Long Haulers:
Covid long haulers – that’s what Jon and I are now. That means, we still exhibit prolonged Covid symptoms although we’re already considered Covid-recovered. We’re not contagious anymore though, just to be clear.
There are many different symptoms for what they also call Long Covid. For Jon, it’s insomnia. He needs to take meds to be able to get a good night’s sleep. He also still gets tired easily.
I still have dry cough and still taking meds for that. I also still have insomnia and also get tired and out of breath easily. Plus, my sense of smell is still not back 100%. At least, I can taste food now. Small wins!
What We Learned and How We Survived:
We definitely learned a lot throughout our almost one-month Covid-19 journey. It is our hope that by sharing our story, you’d learn from us and be better prepared yourself in case this also happens to you and your family (God forbid).
1. Have a Covid-19 Plan.
As a self-proclaimed planner girl, it’s embarrassing to admit that even I did not have a solid Covid-19 plan in place. It’s crucial to have one so that you don’t panic and everyone knows what to do.
What to include in your plan:
- where to isolate the infected (if only one or a few of you are infected)
- where to let the uninfected stay (if like in our case, we couldn’t let the uninfected stay home)
- prepare a Covid-19 go bag (include thermometers, blood pressure monitor, oximeter, etc)
- contact details of doctors, laboratories, drug stores
In our case, we had to assign ourselves to stay as much as possible in certain parts of the room only. Zander and I had the masters bedroom, which is where I also work. The schoolroom, which is also Jon’s office was assigned to him. He just added a mattress so he could sleep there. Ziggy stayed in the living room. We even brought out his clothes and his toys there so he doesn’t need to go to any of the other bedrooms.
We were also prepared with our own thermometer, blood pressure monitor, and flu meds. But someone had to send us an oximeter.
We were also advised by our pediatrician to open all windows and bedroom doors for good ventilation. We stopped using the aircon in the master’s bedroom too. These were done to help ensure that Zander will not get infected and it worked!
2. Be organized.
You never know how much Covid-19 messes with your mental health until you experience it. What helped me was to get organized.
We used a Google Sheet to monitor our temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen – something you need to do at least 3 times a day. Having to do this for 3 people, 3 times a day, every day for 3 weeks was insanity.
I used a medicine tracker in my planner for myself, Ziggy, and Zander. This is crucial too especially if, like me, you need to take a lot of medicines. I had a total of 11 different medications, some had to be taken twice or thrice a day. I have pages and pages of medicine trackers now.
3. Be financially liquid.
We were never hospitalized but don’t take that to mean that we didn’t need to spend a lot. We did.
The RT-PCR tests alone cost us Php 25,000. We did home service so it costs a lot more Then there were blood tests, x-rays, medicines, and doctors consultations for four people. Costs add up pretty fast.
All the tests were done via home service which costs more because of service fees. Medicine costs can spike especially for those with comorbidities (Jon had to buy asthma medications in case Covid triggers his asthma) and for those with complications (like me, who had pneumonia and now still suffer from prolonged coughing).
None of the labs accept credit cards. They don’t accept health cards too. Even the doctors who do teleconsultations only accept bank transfers or Gcash.
So, yes, you better have money on hand. Of course, not everyone will need all the tests and medicines we used but it still helps to be financially liquid during a crisis.
4. Embrace technology.
We never would have survived home care without tech.
We used our banking apps to pay for medical and lab services. Our doctors accepted Gcash transfers or bank transfers.
We used Facebook and Google to look for labs and other services.
We used Viber to order medicines from Mercury Drug (because their website sucks) and had our orders picked up by Grab or Lalamove.
We used Grab to order food when needed. Trust me, when you are down with Covid like we were, the last thing you want to do is cook. You will not have the energy for it. So, it helped that for most of our journey, my in-laws cooked for us. There were others who also sent food.
We used SM Markets Online to order our groceries.
We used messenger to communicate with people including our doctors. Two of our doctors conducted their teleconsultations via FB Messenger while one did it via Viber.
Honestly, FB Messenger was crucial to my mental health because it’s what I used to communicate with my friends. I had a chat group with 3 of my high school friends and we talked several times a day (sometimes even in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep), every day during our Covid journey.
We used Netflix, HBO Go, and YouTube to entertain us when all we could do was lie down.
5. Accept help.
We wouldn’t have survived this without accepting help from others.
My in-laws took Ziya in, did our laundry, cooked some of our food, and picked up our deliveries for us at the gate because we couldn’t go down.
Friends and family sent us food and supplies. My former boss even sent us bags of papaya leaves so that we can take papaya extract.
Clients gave us time to rest and recover. Some even sent advanced payments and gave financial donations without us asking for them.
My SIL even booked us our initial appointments with an Internist.
Friends and former colleagues, who found out after I announced on Facebook, messaged me even though we haven’t talked in years.
So many people sent prayers and well-wishes. Some even shared their own Covid-19 stories to let us know that we were not alone and that we could survive what we were going through.
6. Follow your doctor’s orders.
We consider ourselves lucky still to have gotten Covid-19 now rather than last year. Doctors have more experience now and thus know better what to do.
I was given orders to get a chest x-ray done on Day 10. However, due to certain issues I encountered with that, I was unable to do so until a week later. Had I done what she said sooner, I may not have gotten pneumonia, or at least it would have been caught and treated earlier.
7. Be vigilant and act fast.
Covid-19 is no joke. Some may have milder symptoms than others but you never know with Covid-19 how symptoms will progress. It’s better to be proactive rather than reactive.
Experiencing symptoms? Isolate yourself already. Do you suspect it’s more than just the flu? Get a swab test done.
Then, consult your doctor. In our experience, it’s good to have a doctor who can anticipate what can happen next and prepares you for it. That way, you don’t need to suffer so much. The earlier you get proper treatment, the better the outcome.
8. Take care of yourself.
It goes without saying that you should take extra care of yourself while you’re going through Covid. But to be specific, rest as much as you can, eat healthy food, stay hydrated (drink LOTS of water!), and learn to control your breathing. You can lose your appetite but you still need to eat. Try soup-y food if you really can’t eat anything else.
There are breathing exercises you can practice regularly. This is super important especially for those times when you are getting out of breath.
Try not to worry too much. Do things to distract you. In my case, I watched a lot of TV shows and listened to podcasts. Try to stay positive and will yourself not to give up.
Thanks so much if you read all that and reached this part. I know that it’s a lot, but imagine what it was actually like for us while we were going through all of it.
It was the scariest, most horrible thing that has ever happened to our family so far…
And unfortunately, for Jon and me, we still don’t know how long our Long Covid symptoms will last. But in spite of everything, we continue to be grateful that we didn’t have a serious case of Covid and didn’t need hospitalization. We’re grateful that there were people who helped in many different ways. And we’re so, so, so grateful we survived. Many didn’t.
So, please continue to pray for us and for all of those still battling Covid-19. We also pray for you. Stay safe and healthy!