• Bill F. Gabay

I Survived COVID-19

By Bill F. Gabay

(Author's note: This is the true-to-life story of a 61 year old COVID-19 survivor as told to this writer. May his story serve as an inspiration as we continue to do battle with this deadly and invisible enemy. But more than anything else, may it be a living testimony of faith in our God.)

Here's his story:

I work as a supervisor in the Engineering and Maintenance Department of a private city hospital. Because of the nature of my job, I am considered a frontliner in the fight against COVID-19. Many times I've come face-to-face with the lethal disease when I got exposed to COVID-19 patients, both proven positive and asymptomatic.

What I feared most happened last February 27 when I felt something unusual with my body. All of a sudden, I felt dryness in my throat accompanied by soreness and itchiness. But I just ignored it. I thought, it's probably the extreme heat outside whenever I go biking that caused my throat to get irritated. Biking helps me stay fit and in good physical condition, by the way. Luckily my schedule for laboratory examination, a standard procedure of the hospital for its staff and employees, fell on that same day. Later, after going through a series of laboratory tests, my friend who is a medical technologist, confided to.me that all the results were negative except my platelet count which was below normal. Do I have dengue, I asked to myself. I requested for a dengue examination that same day and when the results came out, I was relieved to know I was negative.

To satisfy my curiosity even more, I went to a restaurant to test myself. I ordered some mouth-watering dishes and I noticed the food that I ate had an unusual flavor. It was somewhat bland and surprisingly tasteless.

When I got back home in our dormitory, I washed my hands with liquid soap. I then put near my nose a bottle of perfume, and then next a bottle of alcohol, and then a few sweet-smelling scents but it didn't register a thing to me. I've lost my sense of smell I guessed.

I then went back to my friend in the laboratory. She suggested that I submit to a medical check-up for possible COVID-19 infection.

On March 6, I took a swab test.

The following morning at around 8 o' clock, our infection control nurse called me up to confirm I was positive for the coronavirus. And so calmly though a little bit nervous, I prepared a few personal belongings in the event that I'll be admitted. I was told I had to be isolated.

Later, I was advised to go to the triage, and there I had a chest x-ray. I was found negative fir pneumonia. The physician on duty told me I would be isolated for 14 days. Isolation only and not for admission because the symptoms I exhibited didn't call for admission. The doctor prescribed medication for my cough and sore throat, and some vitamins to boost my immune system. My cousin, a nurse in the US suggested I try steam inhalation.

A few days later, my friend who's a nurse in our hospital, was also subjected to a swab test for possible close contact transmission. Much to her joy and excitement, when her results came out, they were negative. She lost no time in getting her clearance processed so she could return to work soonest. When she returned to active duty, like a little sister, she prepared my meals everyday and the things I needed during isolation.

There were two of us quarantined in the isolation room. The other was a young woman. Her OVID-19 was community-acquired. And so after spending 4 days in the isolation room, she was transferred to a government facility so she could be with her one-year old baby also tested positive.

Now alone, the hardest thing for me to do was fighting off boredom. With nobody to talk to, I felt I was beginning to lose my wits. Everything changed abruptly and completely for me as far as my surroundings are concerned. Out of desperation, I sometimes would request for somebody to talk with. It's a good thing that our hospital has an internet connection, a means to communicate with my friends and relatives here and abroad.

During the early days of my isolation, I experienced difficulty sleeping. I couldn't sleep when I wanted to, and when I could, I would wake up at the most unholy hours. To break the monotony of staring at nothing, I read the Daily Bread, a handy devotional book I brought along together with a few reading materials. It gave me a sense of assurance that God is in control and is just a prayer away. Also, our chaplain told me "You can talk to God while you are alone in the facility."

I began to miss our regular Friday devotionals as well as our Sunday worship services where I play the piano. I longed to be with my friends and co-workers.

My brothers and sisters in our fraternity also showed some extraordinary kindness as they brought me food and fruits daily. I thanked them but I reminded to stay at home because of the threat of the corona virus in the hospital and in the city likewise.

On March 17 I was required to undergo another swab test and fortunately, things began to change for the better. I noticed that, slowly but surely, I was regaining my taste and smell.

On March 19, the results of my swab test were released and they turned out I was negative. The next day I was given my clearance and on March 22 I was back to my work.

The day after getting my release, I immediately took to the roads on the morning with my ever-reliable bike to test myself for any abnormalities like shortness of breath and my endurance. I brought along my biking buddy as a precautionary measure if something goes wrong with me. We travelled some 28 kilometers and then I had to rush back so I could attend our morning worship service at 9:30. Thank God it was a wonderful ride and everything went smoothly.

I thanked God for my fast recovery. I thanked the Lord that my case was just mild with only a little cough and the loss of two of my senses. I also thanked my friends and loved ones who encouraged me to put my trust on the Lord. I also thanked my friend who tirelessly took good care of me.

On the day of my release, two persons were brought in. One was a female nurse. They too got stricken with COVID-19. I could feel how they felt when they were admitted in the isolation area.

I brought them food and told them we're praying for their fast recovery. Sometimes I would cook them food and requested somebody assigned in the covid rooms to bring them the food. I reminded them not to hesitate calling me if they needed my help. #