COVID-19 is Real

I am deviating from my usual practice of writing a commentary on politics, business and social events to write on something more pressing and close to my heart and closer to home.

As the title of this essay suggests, COVID-19 is real. It is so real that has come closer to home. I am never a doubter of COVID-19 and I am not an anti-vaxxer but I never imagined myself and my family to experience it the disease first-hand when our father has been diagnosed with it last August 30, 2021.

My father, Daddy as my sister and I fondly call him, is 73 years old, semi-retired, and, before the COVID-19 pandemic happened, spent most of his time playing golf, hanging around with his high school batchmates or fraternal brothers, and enjoying the company of his grandchildren, the young sons of my sister. Daddy is a very sociable person, as he enjoyed walking around the village where the family home in Laguna is located or interacting with customers at the family-owned stall at the public market section of town.

On August 29, 2021, my sister called me to inform me that Daddy was experiencing "COVID-like" symptoms, Daddy had fever, cough and was feeling weak because he could not eat. I called his long-time assistant to ask if she and another long-time assistant of his could attend to him, a request that they granted, with one of them telling me that he was able to finally able to eat and get some sleep.

My sister decided to have Daddy undergo a swab test to be certain of his condition. When the test results turned out to be positive for COVID-19, there was a frantic province-wide search for a hospital that could admit Daddy as soon as possible. As all hospitals in the immediate area and nearby towns could not admit more COVID-19 patients, my sister's husband and Daddy's long-time assistants decided to bring Daddy to one of the rarely used properties at the town center for him to isolate there while being cared for and waiting for a hospital to become available. It was on August 31, 2021 that Daddy was finally moved to a private hospital in another town of Laguna, where he is now being attended to by his doctors.

Our COVID-19 story is still on-going and is not easy. While Daddy has, according to one of his long-time assistants, a "mild" case of COVID-19, his comorbidities are serious, His blood sugar level and other vital indicators are higher than usual, and doctors saw something in his heart, which could have caused him to have a heart attack if detected late. Daddy's condition is going to require a series of procedures and treatments that, along with his COVID-19 treatment, may cause the bill to possibly reach more than one million pesos.

It is not easy for my sister to deal with the situation given that she has her own family, especially two young sons, to attend to, and she and her husband are the ones running the family business, which is the stall at the public market section of town. The pandemic was already hard for them, as business activiity was down due to the multiple lockdowns that the government had to impose to control the spread of the disease. The flow of commerce is also being impeded by the checkpoints and other pandemic control measures that are being imposed. They are having difficulty to make ends meet because of the pandemic.

The situation is even more difficult for me, the older of two children of Daddy and my late Mommy. Not only am I living away from my family, as I have been residing in Metro Manila since my college days at the University of the Philippines. I also could not attend to Daddy at the hospital or help my sister and her husband in running errands at the provincial family home because I too have serious comorbidities that make me too vulnerable and high-risk for COVID-19 that my doctors and those who know my health condition asked me not to leave Metro Manla or just stay within the immediate locality where I live if have to go out to buy essential needs and maintenance medication.

As both my sister and I could not be at the hospital, we sought the help of a private nurse who has the experience in dealing with COVID-19 patients to help us and look after Daddy. She is constantly updating us on Daddy's condition. So far, Daddy's condition is improving, as he is now able to eat and can now respond and even wave during our video calls to him, but he is still being monitored, especially his oxygen level, while waiting for the results of his other tests. We are more than optimistic and we are praying that Daddy's improvement is going to continue, and he is going to be healed and recover from COVID-19 and his comorbidities.

My sister and her family, and Daddy’s long-time assistants tested negative for COVID-19 after being swabbed.

Fortunately, our family is now being assisted by our relatives, friends, Daddy's high school batchmates and fraternal brothers, and so many other individuals whom we do not know personally but came across and responded to our plea for help. This early, Daddy, my sister and I would like to thank everyone who have been assisting Daddy and our family in one way or anothe, and praying for Daddy and our family. We are more than appreciative of the kind gesture, words of encouragement and strength, and prayers that we receive at this very difficult time.

Finally, I decided to share what my family is going through right now as a way of telling everyone that COVID-19 is real and the costs of hospitalization and treatment are high. Whether vaccinated or not, we all have to follow the most basic and least costly principle of preventing COVID-19, which is by wearing a face mask (P10.00 or less each) and face shield (P15.00 each), cleaning the hand with soap (P12.00 to P20.00 each) and water or with alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least P25.00 per bottle), and practicing social distancing (free of charge). Being sick of COVID-19 is not easy for both the patient and the patient's family and friends, and my family and I can attest to that.


About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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