Temporarily suspending traditions, instant gratification and FOMO has never killed anyone, but we know something that has
Experts are calling it for those in Metro Manila. The holiday COVID surge has officially begun.
In a December 21 report, the OCTA Research Team said that a “surge in its early stages has already started,” a development that should signal government agencies and individuals alike to reinforce precautionary measures. They’re the same things we’ve all heard about and talked about nine months and counting: Wash your hands often. Practice physical distancing. Hold off on those social gatherings.
Yet it seems the latest statistics and events (for now, flights from the UK are banned due to a new COVID-19 strain that spreads even more rapidly) are not enough to thwart those determined to celebrate the holidays like they used to. House parties, family reunions, and friends reconvening out of town are, unfortunately, still in the pipeline for some people. If you happen to be one of them, the messages ahead from COVID-19 survivors have your name on them.
Tonie Aldave, 33
Diagnosed October 2020, spent 14 days in recovery
On October 23, I tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms (headache and loss of sense of taste). I got the virus from my grandmother. I had my third re-swab and tested negative just recently: December 12, 2020.
Please take the time to read my story.
Since lockdown started, I stayed in the province but traveled to Manila when my grandmother got sick. She was being managed at home since she did not want to be brought to the hospital at first. When I arrived in Manila, I thought that I would see my lola die at home; she was short of breath even with maximum oxygen supplementation given. Fortunately, she agreed to be brought to the hospital to get adequate treatment. She then tested positive for COVID-19.
My grandmother is 92 years old with diabetes and had a stroke early this year; she was mostly bedridden. She did not go out––not even once––during the pandemic. She stayed with my aunts and cousins who worked from home. The people she stayed with went out minimally, just for errands while observing all the health protocols. But they did not wear masks at home. So how she got the virus, we couldn’t really tell. All I know is that she was the only one who never left the house and also the most vulnerable person for any illness.
All the people in the house got tested and six of us tested positive for COVID-19, including my senior and diabetic mother who had a very brief interaction with my lola before she was brought to the hospital. Thankfully, we only had mild symptoms that were manageable at home. On the other end, it was my grandmother who had severe symptoms and was fighting for her life in the hospital. It was heartbreaking because we couldn’t be with her and take care of her. No one was allowed to go to the hospital. We would just send our pictures to be displayed in her room and asked the kind nurses to let us video call her every day (she also didn’t know how to use a cellphone).
The depression that my lola felt during her isolation in the hospital with unfamiliar people in PPEs taking care of her was more unbearable than the difficulty of breathing she experienced. She stayed in the hospital for 18 long days all alone but managed to survive and live to see us again by God’s grace and healing power.
I needed to tell the whole story to let you know that we have to be more careful when going outside and exposing ourselves to whoever, wherever the COVID-19 virus may be––not just for ourselves but also for those who are most vulnerable to get infected with this virus.
So if you are planning to have your yearly reunions and parties for the holidays, PLEASE just do it virtually. We just have to ensure that everyone is safe at home, with no illness and alive, so we can have more holidays with our loved ones in the years to come. I know we miss being together with other people, hugging each other, and having a good time, but let’s just have a little more patience this year.
COVID-19 IS NO JOKE, especially the struggles and expenses, and I hope you take it seriously before it is too late and it has already affected you or your family. Not everyone survives this disease but I’m sure you can survive seeing your loved ones virtually, at least for this year. Remember to wash your hands frequently, keep a safe distance from one another, wear your masks, and avoid gatherings until we have a vaccine here in the Philippines.
Finally COVID-19 NEGATIVE,
Belle Rodolfo, 29
Diagnosed with COVID-19 in September 2020, still in recovery three months later
COVID is real and isn’t just some flu you can Nyquil away. We’ve been in lockdown for nine months––it’s not fair and some of us do want to see our families. If you really have to, be responsible and PLAN ahead: at least a 10-day quarantine and testing before you all see each other, and don’t be afraid to be that person who brings it up with your family. Spontaneous meetups are dangerous especially when you don’t know where the other person has been. Remember, your bubble isn’t as small as you think it is.
Diagnosed with COVID-19 in July 2020, experienced 14 days of illness
I’m here to share with you my COVID-19 experience.
The moment I had muscle pain and felt feverish, I knew I had COVID-19. This was even if temperature checks were normal in my workplace and at a mall I went to when I was still feeling normal. I had myself admitted and tested despite having symptoms for just several hours. I did not want to infect anyone else, especially my family, and I had not yet set up an isolation room at home. Later, I was diagnosed with moderate COVID pneumonia. During that time, I was not yet sure if I would survive, because based on available data, the temporal profile of COVID-19 survivors and non-survivors were the same on days one through ten. Non-survivors were hooked up to a ventilator after day 10.
After the 10th day of my illness, I was sure that I would survive. I am lucky that I did without any long-term bad effects. But other people were not so lucky. Having COVID-19 is like playing Russian roulette that way.
My advice to those people planning on celebrating the holidays with non-household members is this: you may think you are strong enough to survive COVID-19, but your loved ones might not be strong enough to survive it. Don’t risk it. Getting COVID is expensive, can kill, and a lot of survivors have not yet fully recovered. Going to a face to face Christmas party is not worth it.
Eric Pascual, MD
Aimee Sy, 28
Diagnosed in July 2020, took almost a month to recover
To those planning to host or attend in-real-life parties this year,
I just want to share that COVID-19 itself is one thing. The aftermath is another. Because COVID still has lingering effects even months after. I don’t wish it on anyone––and I know you don’t, too. So help protect others by staying at home. Don’t waste your effort the whole year just to give up now!
Your friendly neighborhood COVID-19 survivor,
Anton Abello, 33
Diagnosed with COVID-19 in March 2020, was completely well after 20 days
I just want to remind everybody that COVID-19 spares no one. I have personally seen the horrors of the coronavirus infection both as a patient and a physician. The constant fear for the safety of my loved ones, who were exposed to me when I had the infection, is something I cannot put into words. Another kind of anguish words cannot do justice is having to witness a patient, a 31-year-old, give birth while infected with COVID-19 and eventually not surviving the ordeal. These are just two of my personal experiences. This is why the pandemic should not be downplayed no matter how long it’s been.
I know it’s within our culture to celebrate with our loved ones during the holidays. I know we come into these things with the best intentions. But compromise is the only option we have now if we are to be safe. I strongly encourage everyone to celebrate the holidays via video chat rather than risk the chance of introducing the virus to your loved ones. Regret always comes last.
This might look like a tricky social situation to maneuver; what people do on their own time, in their own spaces, with their own groups is no one else’s business but their own. But in the middle of a health crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, this hardly applies. Nothing here exists in a vacuum.
PS. If you’re looking for a sign telling you to cancel, this is it.
Art Alexandra Lara