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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 22 January) — Do you / did you have any of these symptoms?

– scratchy/dry/sore throat

– dry cough

– runny nose

– sneezing

– some fever

– alternating – night sweating, and chills

– headache

– over-all feeling of heaviness, wanting to lie down all the time

– like a fatigue that won’t go away…

It is ongoing now or did happen for three or more days already, and you still went out and did all things normal in your everyday life? Like eating out or meeting up or talking without masks or all? Because many people are doing that already anyway. 

Then most likely, you are, like me, infected. More so, you may be Positive with COVID-19. 

I can say that out loud here because I was swab tested on the third day of my symptoms, a red mark on the piece of paper shown to me said ” POSITIVE.” 

Denial is real. But then I stopped on my tracks. There are people around me. 

I am glad I decided to have myself tested. I could have infected more if I went out, and more so, my family. But they’re safe. My other daughter is infected too, we had symptoms on the same day, but we were separate. She isolated herself immediately, as we both suspected it might be going around already.

It is my fifth day now (January 21) and I felt I should write this, even before I get to the end of the quarantine, and hopefully, others reading this may not take for granted their symptoms, and prevent their families from getting infected.

It took me five days now before I can get up, have a clearer mind and write. In all of the past five days, all I felt was that I am sick. Damn sick. Pardon my silence my friends, I was making sense of this.

I never thought I could get COVID! What with complete vaccination, booster just last month, a Pneumococcal 13-valent Conjugate Vaccine (for life) to still protect me from the dreaded pneumonia, and I thought, very limited social life, WFH activities, the works. But no, I went out to errands for groceries, medicines, and more so, I went to a hospital for my annual blood test! So many points of contact!

I am posting to tell my story, although it is still a developing one.

This story started quite unlikely not at my home, but at a mountain retreat, where I planned a self-directed retreat for a few days, before all work for the year gets crazy again. It is to take stock of what’s behind, and reflect, and listen to what’s next. This is my favorite place, where I spent lots of silent retreats and reflections, and slept with enchanting, almost trance-like sounds of melodious bells.

By the time my symptoms appeared, I was graciously, socially distanced- brought to the City Health of Malaybalay city (under a very protective vehicle that separates their driver and me in the passenger seat) to make sure if it is indeed COVID.

It was my first time in the two years of COVID to be brought to the local government health facility outside of my own city. It was a revelation. The hangar-like structure of the City Health Office of Malaybalay  – the Barangay 4 covered court for swab and vaccination —  was reassuring semiotic- humongous and arc like, it felt like you were being enveloped inside to be treated or to be swallowed by whatever it is they will find out on you (pardon the adjectives). And you bet they did find it out, fast. I have to give credit to the health workers there for all their patience. 

Barangay 4 covered court in Malaybalay City, venue for swabbing for COVID-19 testing and vaccination. Photo by MAYETTE RIVERA

While there was not much of a crowd inside, we were quite a bunch on the “Positives” side. The LGU (local government unit) assistance was good, getting a swab (Antigen test 1st) then an RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction) all in one day, for free, was even better. We all deserve it. The Health counselling, is, if I may say, just perfunctory. I reserve my comments on that later.

That third day was the worst, the symptoms were peaking up, and had I not gotten myself tested, I could have infected and passed on to more people if I am in our house or somewhere, all of it unknowingly.  Just like all the infections spreading around on entire families and households. Because one family member or another may have disregarded or shrugged off the symptoms as just fatigue, or colds and treated it as they believed it to be.

Being in Malaybalay when the infection hit was a blessing in disguise, I was away from all of my family members, I was closeted away from everyone too, and I did not mingle with anyone, because … yes it is a retreat center!

To put an immediate synthesis to this story – I am already on home quarantine, and I am still being monitored daily by our University Health services.

Just a shout out to all the friends who cared, messaged me for my SOS needs, former students, friends who helped me find a way back home so I can quarantine safely and comfortably, you know who you are! 

Big shout out to Nenette for the facilitation to get our city’s 911 to help me get back home, you know what this means. It was a relief to be safely transported back to home city for my own quarantine, and have my family take care of me, albeit at a distance. 

And to the local government unit, the  City Health  of Malaybalay for having such service, and the ORO Rescue / 911 and BHERTS of Barangay Carmen for the quick response and transport. Most of all, to the priests and people at the retreat center, I cannot name you but your quiet place, your abundant food, and care, calmed my restless spirit. 

There are many lessons I have noted in this. I have more to write. But for now, I can sum it up in this: NO COVID.

N-otice the symptoms as soon as you feel it, notice your body

O-pen yourself to testing, at the soonest possible time- whether Antigen test kits (buy one/find one or get it free from your City Health, they owe you a free service!) or get an RT-PCR of course

C-ommunicate to family and friends and anyone who matters what is happening

O-vercome the disease with all the recommended protocols and strictly follow the home isolation

V-accination mattered, your lifeline between being in a hospital or just being on home quarantine

I– information, science-based, tailored fit to audiences who are not reached by social media, plain and simple but communicated well, by health workers, by local governments, by responsible media, using local language, matters a lot more than all the Facebook forwards, readings and You tube videos

D-o not deny it to yourself, if you feel anything close to the COVID symptoms . What you deny to yourself, you also deny to others, and that’s when the whole disease loop circles back again.

I hope others who have gone through these symptoms themselves and have stories to tell, can help others who are still out there, who may unknowingly catch the virus and pass it on to any of their fragile family members.

Let’s all help stop the spread of this cycle – NO COVID please. 

(MindaNews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Mayette Rivera is a University Research Fellow and Professor of Communication at Far Eastern University, Manila.  She is based in Cagayan de Oro City for the most part and teaches MA Communication using CANVAS, the learning management system of FEU. She posted this on her FB page on January 21.  MindaNews was granted permission to publish this)

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