My brother-in-law slept for the better part of the day and when he got up that afternoon, he looked terrible. He was sitting on a chair covered in a blanket, his shoulders hunched over, his face was pallid. We were in Cavite; I stayed overnight at their place after spending NYE at our mother’s house the night before. My sister looked at me apologetically because her husband was too sick to drive me back home. Their firstborn was coughing the whole night so I thought the father just caught the bug. It didn’t occur to me that it was something serious, much more than I would get it as well.
For context, we’re all fully vaccinated, but we all know that this doesn’t make us immune to the COVID-19 virus. It just lowers our chances of getting infected and hopefully, prevents us from dying in case we do get it. I’ve always considered myself lucky that I never contracted the virus pre-vaccine days. However, there is always that thought at the back of my head that it’s just a matter of time before I get it too considering my lifestyle. I love traveling, love going out to check out cafes, I’d rather go to the grocery to buy food than order online, and sometimes, I meet up with friends. So you can say that I sorta saw this coming.
Since my siblings and I live in different parts of the city, I don’t see them a lot. We usually reunite every holiday season these past few years and for 2021, we agreed that we would be spending NYE with our mother. I haven’t spoken to Mama for a very long time (but that’s another, much-complicated story) so this was kind of a big deal. I finally agreed to go see our mother, I didn’t know what to expect.
Saturday afternoon, my brother-in-law mustered enough strength to drive me to SM Imus where I was able to get on a van that goes back to Manila. I was perfectly fine then, didn’t feel any different.
Sunday night, I was trying to sleep and I noticed that something felt wrong. I kept turning in my bed, my body was hot, and I was covered in cold sweats. Despite perspiring through my PJs, I burrowed myself further underneath my blanket, unsure how else I could bend my body to find relief from the chills. My head was too heavy and my neck and back were hurting. I was half-asleep and couldn’t make sense of what was happening.
I woke up the next morning with a full-blown fever. It felt like my head has grown twice its size because I could barely lift it from my pillow. I felt a stabbing pain in different parts of my body most especially my back, nape, and legs. I could barely stand up and whenever I did like when I had to go to the toilet, my body felt so heavy it was like I was carrying another person on my shoulders.
I kept sneezing and each time it went five times in a row. I think I have the flu, I thought to myself. I looked for my thermometer to check my temperature, but it wasn’t working to my dismay. I sent a Facebook message to our neighborhood pharmacy to order paracetamol. I slept for the better part of the day and would only wake up to pee, drink water, eat some food, and take the meds. My sense of smell and taste are intact and I took it as a good sign.
I reported my condition to my boss and advise him that I couldn’t go to work. I still had a fever and headaches and on this day, I started having nasal congestion as well. This made sleeping extra challenging as I had to keep changing positions whenever it felt like I couldn’t breathe through one of my nostrils.
Meanwhile, my colleagues were busy chatting about the latest surge in COVID cases. They avidly monitor that shit the way they keep score on a game. One shared an infographic that shows the COVID-19 variants and their symptoms. Upon checking, I realized that my symptoms seem to mirror the ones for Omicron.
Omicron variant symptoms
I ticked 7 out of 9 (see red texts), this is concerning. Could it be that this is not just the simple flu but a COVID infection?!
In our company, you can’t file for sick leave without a medical certificate so I kept trying to set an appointment with a doctor the entire day through the mobile app of our company’s partner HMO (health maintenance organization). I tried calling them up but all lines were busy, I requested a call, but nobody called me. Frustrated, I sought assistance from our HR officer who tried her best to set up a doctor’s consultation appointment on my behalf. I waited the whole day for that call but nothing came.
My throat started to itch but was not severe enough to be called a sore throat. It’s the feeling you get when a cough is about to form if you know what I mean. Sure enough, I started having a dry cough come nighttime.
I figured I should get the antigen test to confirm if I had COVID-19. People I know, including a colleague, have been posting about getting the virus so really, it’s not too far-fetched that I might have gotten it too. My friend recommended Sayo Medical Collection Services which offers home service testing. I got the contact info and immediately set an appointment for a rapid antigen test. The test costs P1,500, all in.
At around 2:00 in the afternoon, a heavy-set woman has arrived and introduced herself as the nurse sent by Sayo. We wasted no time and got on with the procedure. I still remember the smooth and easy rapid antigen test that I had at Shangri-la Hotel The Fort so I was expecting that it would be as quick as that experience. Well, didn’t exactly happen that way. The nurse said that she would swab me twice, one on each nostril. I wish I could say that she did it twice and that’s it but no, she had to do a few tries because, for some reason, she couldn’t reach what she was supposed to reach inside my nose. It was so painful that I started to tear up.
She then dropped the sample on the test cassette reader that looked a lot like a pregnancy test kit. In my head, I was like, any moment now I would find out if I’m expecting, lol. A few minutes later, two red lines appeared on the stick. I assumed it means positive but I waited for the nurse to confirm it.
“How accurate is the rapid antigen test? Does this mean for sure that I have COVID?” I asked.
She confirmed that I have the virus and as she said this, I noticed her taking a step back. Before I could react, she pulled out a bottle and started spraying alcohol around her. I was sitting on the floor and I just stared at her, not knowing what to feel about what just happened. While I do understand that she was only trying to be safe, it still surprised me and made me feel a little bit uncomfortable. I thought about offering her a drink but decided against it given the “alcohol-spraying incident”. I’m pretty sure she would only turn it down for fear that I might infect her.
I coughed the entire day but it was dry and hurt my chest. I’ve been overdosing on vitamin C and eating as much as I could. Thank heavens I didn’t lose my sense of taste and smell, instead, my appetite seemed to increase since yesterday. I didn’t have a fever anymore, just lingering lightheadedness.
I have enough food to last me until next week but I’d been craving some food, like porridge, so I was ordering online. To ensure that I wouldn’t accidentally infect the delivery guys, I used digital payment then instructed them to just leave the food outside my door. I haven’t left home since I got the symptoms, subjecting myself to self-quarantine.
Finally, I got a call from a doctor who proceeded to give me a teleconsultation. She asked about my symptoms and the date when I started having them. I also mentioned the result of the rapid antigen that I took yesterday.
She advised me to quarantine for 10 days, counting from the day I first started showing symptoms. After the call, she sent me emails with my medical certificate, doctor’s prescription, and a written request to get an RT-PCT test. The prescription contains instructions to take paracetamol, cough syrup, nasal spray, oral rinse, and vitamin C supplements. I didn’t get all of it, just the vit C and paracetamol because I noticed that I was no longer suffering from a cough and congested nose.
Today, I got the RT-PCR test from the same provider, but they sent a different nurse. She arrived around 8:00 p.m. and she was wearing a scrub suit, face shield, and a face mask with respirators. The woman is ready, I thought to myself.
Unlike with the first nurse, things went smoothly this time. Sure, the procedure was still uncomfortable, got teary-eyed when she swabbed my nose and I gagged when she inserted the cotton swab down my throat, but everything went quickly it was a relief.
I originally intended to avail of their 12-hour service so I will know the results asap, however, the nurse shared that they’re currently dealing with a great number of clients it’s impossible to release it in just 12 hours. Thus, I paid only P3,800 for their 24-hour lab analysis.
Today, I got a little bit of cold and I still get dizzy especially when I stand for too long, other than that, I feel generally better compared to this last couple of days. I cooked my lunch today and got tired quickly, to think I didn’t even make an elaborate meal, just stir-fried some veggies.
The result of my RT-PCR test came in and it’s positive. To be honest, I’m not very worried about it anymore because I’m already on my way to recovery. My fever only lasted for three days, my coughing for two days. My nose is no longer clogged and I’m not sneezing anymore. To think, I didn’t take any other medication other than paracetamol.
I stayed in the living room, on my home office desk these past few days but today I decided to stay mostly inside my bedroom. I’m not sure but I suspected that too much light from the balcony might have been aggravating my headaches. I think it worked because I didn’t feel so dizzy today.
I tried to be a little more productive today; I started the day with meditation, practiced my French with Duolingo, wrote in my journal and my blog, and I even cleaned the house. House cleaning is the only physical activity that I’ve done since I got the virus because I didn’t want to strain myself by doing any kind of workout. I’m hopeful that tomorrow I’d feel strong enough to at least do a 15-minute yoga.
At this point, I’m just waiting for my quarantine to be over. I feel better, no longer sick, not even dizzy. I did yin yoga today, which involves a lot of stretching and holding poses. It wasn’t intensive, didn’t even sweat. I just thought I should get back to doing physical activity slowly.
It’s the last day of my quarantine and I think I’ve fully recovered. I will be going back to work tomorrow and I can’t wait to get back on it and be productive again.
While I’m not happy starting 2022 with COVID, I’m thankful that my symptoms were not severe and that I was able to recover quickly without requiring going to the hospital or being transferred to a quarantine facility. I do believe that had I been unvaccinated, I’d probably not be able to deal with this as easily as I did.
I just followed the advised 10-day quarantine, took paracetamol, overdosed on vitamin C, drank lots of water, and avoided overstraining myself with intense physical activity. Note that this is just my experience, others might have to do more or even less to manage their symptoms.
As I write this, I still haven’t made an attempt to go out of our neighborhood. Honestly, I want to go to the beach and get some vitamin sea but at the same time, I’m not too keen on the prospect of getting infected again. So if you’re reading this and you haven’t been infected, just please take the extra precautions. Stay home, eat healthily, exercise, and limit your exposure to other people. Let us help each other, do our part, because, for god’s sake, it’s 2022 already. Regardless of politics and personal beliefs, I’m sure we’re all tired and want the same thing; see through the end of this pandemic.