The City Government of Davao has been constantly reminding Dabawenyos to stay home and avoid going out in public to prevent being infected with the virus

Mayor Inday Sara Duterte has been urging the public to rethink attending parties and events where people converge

She has also been incessantly calling reminding people to always wear face masks, wash hands with soap and water, and to stay away from other people

From what he thought was a harmless gathering with close friends, Noel, 50 years old, did not expect that he will be suffering a painful and unpleasant experience as a Covid-19 patient.

Three days after the gathering with close friends, Noel started experiencing coughing and fever. His sister, a doctor at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) immediately prescribed him medicine for his cough and fever. After a few days, he felt slightly better although still experiencing on and off fever and loss of appetite because of his cough.

When he was getting better, he underwent RT-PCR testing to be sure of his condition and while waiting for the result, his sister advised that he be admitted to SPMC for a chest X-Ray and blood laboratory test. He called the City Operations Center (OpCen) and was then fetched by an ambulance.

Ordeal begins

Noel was brought to triage for processing with around 20 other patients with mild to moderate cases. His blood pressure and oxygen level were checked, including his temperature, and was interviewed and then brought to the Emergency Room.

Noel said emotional anxiety and fear started to build up upon seeing horrendous things in the ER.

“While waiting for the results in a wheelchair, I saw the ins and outs of patients with the same cases. Meters away from me is a 65-year-old female patient who is also a Covid positive patient who was in oxygen due to difficulty breathing and was in pain. She did not have a watcher because when you are in the facility, you will be isolated already and no one can come near you except a nurse or a doctor,” he said.

While waiting for his test result, Noel was placed in the small and dark isolation room where he can only describe his experience as a “nightmare.”

“You cannot see anything except the crying voices on the other room and the sirens of the ambulance, as if you are in a deathbed.”

For the whole time, Noel was thinking “if I will stay longer in this place, I will die of a heart attack because of fear, anxiety plus the mounting negative emotions because of the voices you hear from the patients in the other room whining, crying for help and patient gasping for breath and in pain.”

“When you have Covid, you and only you will be there battling against death without any family members or friends to be with you to assist you or help you. Kami doon kanya-kanyang sikap na lumaban mag-isa para magsurvive.”

He stayed for 12 hours in the isolation room before he received a call from his sister that he was positive for Covid-19. He was then transferred to a Covid ward and was attended by the doctors and nurses. He was really thankful for the medical front-liners of SPMC.

Series of pain

Three of Noel’s friends who were with him at the gathering tested positive for Covid. They were brought to SPMC but unfortunately, one of his friends did not survive and expired in the isolation room.

“My friend died in the isolation room without the presence of any family member. His two children, his wife who was with us, and his two helpers were tested positive and are recovering at a quarantine facility.”

He said two other patients died in the same room as his friend, with no family member present.

On his 10th day at the hospital, Noel was declared by the doctor as recovered and ready for discharge. He was then transferred to a ward room with five (5) other people while waiting for his documents to be ready. The five persons were immunocompromised individuals, having a renal problem, have been undergoing dialysis in different private hospitals but tested positive for Covid, and were transferred to SPMC.

That night on the 10th day, Noel said one of the patients began to experience difficulty in breathing and was really in pain, the attending doctor and nurse failed to revive the patient.

“I personally witnessed all the details of the event up to his last breath. I saw how the doctor informed his wife and children via call and heard the request of his wife to place the phone near the ear of his expired husband and put it on a loudspeaker mode and heard all the last loving message of her wife full of agony and pain, and my tears began to roll as I felt all the pain and sorrow for the bereaved family.”

Noel was discharged the next day and continued his remaining 4-day quarantine at their home. All of his family members were swabbed and tested negative but unfortunately, his youngest daughter tested positive.

“I was totally devastated upon hearing the news from my sister because I know how difficult it is when you are in the hospital battling for Covid and the thought of her being alone during the treatment period is unbearable.”

Thankfully, his daughter has fully recovered from the virus and is just completing her quarantine before she can finally come home.

Message to Dabawenyos

“It is never easy to have Covid,” Noel said.

Noel hopes that there be no one else to experience what he has undergone being a Covid patient. He urges Dabawenyos to constantly follow the health protocols that the government has set: wearing face mask and face shield, observing social distancing, and regularly washing your hands with soap and water.

But above all, Noel encourages everyone to stay at home for other’s sake and for their loved ones.

“Kung dili man kinahanglan likayi ang paggawas sa balay kay maluoy ta sa atong mga pamilya kung magkasakit ta ug matakdan nato sila. Maluoy ta sa mga frontliner nurses ug doctor kay kulang na gyud kaayo sila ug ang uban sa atong mga frontliners nangatakdan na (If it is not important, let us avoid going out of our house, let us think of our families if we get sick, we can infect them too. Let us also think of our front-liners—nurses and doctors because some of them have also been infected).”