Our COVID-19 experience was nothing short of grueling. My mom contracted the virus and quickly needed hospitalization. We wouldn’t want to waste what we learned, so we’re sharing our best practices:
Handling the patient at home
1. Isolate. We isolated mom as soon as she showed symptoms and limited our contact with her. Our dad insisted on being the only person to assist her. We agreed, as long as he wears protective gear: mask, face shield, gloves, and full PPE. He also takes a bath and disinfects as soon as he’s done.
2. Schedule a swab test right away. It’s especially difficult to book a test now that there are too many COVID-19 cases, but we requested (and consistently followed up) for a swab test from CESU when mom had a fever. We’re grateful that she has fully recovered now, but had we gotten the test and result sooner, maybe she didn’t have to contract pneumonia or deal with liver enzymes and other effects. To date, we are managing her raised BP and blood sugar as an impact of the virus.
Lesson learned: do not wait for a combination of symptoms. Get a swab test at the first sign.
The rest of us were tested (negative, thank God.) only when my mom was in the hospital already.
3. Do not self-medicate.
At first, mom dismissed her symptoms as a common cold until her throat hurt next. She took cold medicine and Acetylcysteine to alleviate it. But surprise, surprise, she needed more than that—including one antibiotic that’s PhP 10,000.00 per shot.
Regarding the alleged medicines people rave about on the internet, I don’t know what would have happened if she took any of them. We believe people only meant well when they gave tips and sent over a couple of boxes of Lianhua Qingwen, but goodness! It’s dangerous! It is never to be taken without a doctor’s prescription.
Lessons learned: 1. Not all herbal and traditional medicines are safe. It could do further damage when mishandled. 2. We can’t afford to take the symptoms lightly, saying, “oh, it’s the flu season din kasi.” COVID and flu have the same symptoms. Play on the safe side. And please, enough with the “suob lang yan!” Steam inhaling does have its benefits, but it doesn’t cure COVID.
4. Telemedicine. Our cousin was able to schedule a telemedicine consultation for our mom. The doctor considered her already as a COVID-19 patient, and gave us instructions on how to take care of her, along with medicine prescriptions. Building on our previous point, having sound medical advice is gold.
5. Monitor. When mom’s oxygen plunged to 82, and we couldn’t get an ambulance right away, we kept her in check by monitoring her O2 levels with an oximeter and supported her breathing using an oxygen tank.
We were fortunate to have our own oxygen tank at home. My Dad invested in them years ago. It’s a worthy purchase if you have some money to spare, but oxygen tank rentals are available if not. Research for the closest rental facility from your home, save their contact numbers, and ask about the procedure should the need arise.
Note: Oxygen tanks must be refilled often.
6. Eat Warm Meals. Among the list of instructions mom’s telemed doctor gave, serving warm meals and drinks were one of the things he emphasized. As my mom had trouble eating (due to pain in her stomach), we cooked soft foods that she can easily swallow, such as soups and minced vegetables.
7. Coordinate with LGU. We are fortunate to live in a city with an effective and efficient LGU. Even though they’re understandably spread thin due to the number of cases, the services (Mega Contact Tracing Center and Alert Center) were a great help. Find out what your city’s CESU hotline is. It will save lives.
8. Mask on. We wore our masks even inside the house properly. It’s the least we could do to protect ourselves and others.
9. Sanitize and sterilize. It’s essential for us to ensure that nothing goes inside our house without being cleaned and sterilized. Since the pandemic, we invested in a couple of UVC lamps and faithfully sterilized rooms, common areas, and surfaces.
Since we have a shared bathroom, we were instructed to sterilize every time somebody uses it.
10. Social distancing. We mostly kept to our rooms and ate in intervals to minimize contact and possible infection.
11. Proper hygiene. Even before my mom got COVID, no one is allowed to come inside the house without taking a bath first. We stationed laundry areas for the clothes we wore outside, and my dad made an improvised outdoor shower. Needless to say, we wash our hands thoroughly and frequently.
12. No sharing of utensils. We used disposables to eliminate the risk of contamination.
13. Ventilation. Keep your home well ventilated. Open all of your windows with the fan on. Mom’s doctor allowed her to use the air conditioner as long as one of the windows is open.
Building our immune system
1. Eat healthy. We choose to eat mindfully by consuming varied and nourishing meals. Having a variety of fruits and vegetables helps us get all of the nutrients we need. It doesn’t have to be the expensive items. Simple and cheap greens will do.
2. Vitamins. We have since doubled up our vitamin intake per the advice of our doctor friends. I always take my VPharma natural supplements (Mega-malunggay, mega-mangosteen, mega ampalaya, and HealthAid Bifina), but when my mom tested positive, we added ImmunPro and Neurogen-E to our daily intake.
3. Essential Oils. Building an immune system takes time and effort, and one of our best moves to support it is purchasing our essential oil kit. It helps soothe aches and pains, and strengthen our resistance naturally.
Our go-to oils are Copaiba, Digize, Frankincense, Lavender, Lemon, Oregano, Peppermint, R.C., and more. We diffused them and created rolls and sprays that helped mom during her discomfort. Note: Must be used properly.
4. Exercise. There is no need for strenuous exercise. Just move for at least 30 minutes a day.
5. Sun Time. We scheduled “sun time” to catch some Vitamin D and fresh air every day.
6. Povidone-iodine swab and gargle. It’s not yet proven to inactivate COVID-19, but povidone-iodine (Betadine) has been used as an antiseptic against bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
We mix one part of betadine with nine parts distilled water and gargle and swab our nose with it twice a day (with a clean cotton bud, one tip per nostril). Yes, the one in yellow bottle will do. Make small batches at a time as it needs to be disposed every seven days. It’s safe, and a lot of research are being done about it.
Note: Betadine nasal spray and gargle are also available in the market.
7. Manage Stress. Stress brings down our immune system. It’s important to manage it, especially during the hardest times. Having a Solid Foundation makes the struggle bearable. We pray, meditate, and share life with our small group.
We filed leaves to focus and tackle concerns one at a time. Honestly, it was hard to sleep. I guess we got used to waking up in the wee hours for nights a row to our mom’s groans of pain. The sight made it impossible to rest our minds. But somehow, working on some chores or just having a quiet time to close our eyes (at least) keeps the tension at bay.
Most importantly, when it became too overwhelming, we asked for help.
Take care of yourself
We hope this blog can be of some use to you. We certainly don’t wish this to happen again or for anyone to experience it. So, let’s all take good care of ourselves, which in turn, will help protect others from the virus. Keep in mind that it’s not just about you as an individual now. It’s about being responsible for other’s health as well.
Disclaimer: These practices are based on our own research, medical advice we received, and lessons learned from our personal experience.
Links and Vouchers
Note: You will also need nasal cannula and regulator.