As a former media practitioner and now an information officer of a national government agency, Cheche, 43, is used to working under pressure, doing fieldwork either on special assignments or covering events with a large crowd.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Cheche said she never leaves home without her alcohol-based hand rub, a face mask, and face shield.
Despite this routine health practice, Cheche never imagined that in a second of forgetting one thing would make her infected with the deadly coronavirus.
“Ang dili nako makalimtan didtoa sa barangay is gipunit nako ang extension wire sa salog kay mag charge ko. Wala diay ko naka alcohol sa akong kamot dayon nigunit ko sa akong panyo dayon nitrapo ko sa akong nawong (I cannot forget the time when I went to the barangay and I picked up an extension wire from the floor. I have not used alcohol after that and I used a handkerchief to wipe my face),” she said, recalling the time she did fieldwork at a high-risk barangay.
On October 9, the day when the Davao City government released its Risk Assessment Map showing Barangay 22-C under high-risk barangay worried Cheche because she has been to the area and has been experiencing a sore throat.
At first, she thought the sore throat was just normal as she has pre-existing laryngitis so she reported for work the following Monday but was immediately advised to work from home for 14 days as she has been to a high-risk barangay.
On her seventh day of the quarantine, Cheche was already not feeling well with a slight fever. She had herself checked but her laboratory tests turned out fine so she thought it was just a viral infection.
“Kana bitaw’ng denial ka nga dili ni Covid pero naa na kay fear (That feeling when you are denying that this is not Covid but you already have a fear that it is),” she said. But on the night of her ninth day in quarantine, she was awakened by diarrhea and non-stop vomiting. She was rushed to the emergency room of a private hospital at midnight and stayed there until morning.
The next day, she was asked by the doctor to undergo swab testing so she can be admitted to the hospital. Instead, she went home, thinking that she will be fine. When her eldest daughter told her that she does not look better and urged Cheche to have the swab test so she can be admitted and be treated. She and her daughter took the test so she will have a watcher when she gets admitted.
After three (3) days, their results came out, Cheche and her daughter tested positive for Covid-19. They were fetched by the City Health Office (CHO) team. Cheche was brought to Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) and her daughter to an isolation facility.
Cheche was already coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, and shortness of breath due to pneumonia affecting both her lungs during her stay at the hospital.
Her experience in the ward was not something she would want anyone to experience. Seeing her fellow Covid patients made her feel depressed and frustrated as they could not do anything. She was feeling more down since her family cannot even visit her while she was in the hospital. Cheche drew strength from her family and friends who never stopped checking in on her while she was in the hospital.
“Usa gyud sa mga nakapalig-on sa akoa didtoa is ang support sa akong family and friends, kanang pag ampo nila sa akoa. (One of the things that kept me going was the support of my family and friends and their prayers)”
After more than two weeks, she was finally discharged from the hospital and went home to her family.
Since that experience, Cheche has become careful about her every move. She is still regaining everything she has lost while she had Covid-19.
After everything that happened to her, she realized that it is important to follow the basic health protocols set by the government to prevent getting infected with Covid-19.
“Motuo gyud ta kay lisod kaayo labi na kung naa kay symptoms unya na down ang imohang immune system, dugay pa ka makabalik, magtigom og utro sa imohang kusog. (We follow because it is hard especially when you have symptoms and your immune system is weak. It takes so long to recover and regain your strength)”
Now, Cheche and her family do not go outside unless necessary.
“Kung sa una di mi mabuhi og walay mall, di mabuhi og dili mogawas. Karon, hadlok na gyud mi. (Before, we cannot live without going to the mall, we can not go out. Now, we are afraid).”
Information is spreading that Covid-19 is not a real disease. With this, Cheche hopes that they do not experience what she went through.
“Dili daw makaingon ang tao nga tinuod pag dili niya ma experience. Dili pud ko gusto nga moingon nga maexperience ninyo kay pait kaayo ang kahimtang pag ma-positive ka (sa Covid). Dili lang sakit ang imohang ma experience, pati depression, kamingaw sa tanan. Para sa Dabawenyo, ayaw mo og too anang ginaingon nila nga dili tinuod ang Covid. Kay ako mismo naka experience ko. (They say people really cannot say it is true unless they experience it themselves. But I do not want them to experience what I had because it is really hard to be positive (of Covid). You do not only get sick physically but you also experience depression, longing for everything. For my fellow Dabawenyos, do not believe what others say that Covid is not real. Because I have experienced it).” CI