COVID caught me – Lessons on death and life

(Part 1)

Addie Bourbon Amparo

You hear those stories on the news, read them on your feed…you never really actually think it will hit you. But it did!
Three words came out of my doctor husband’s lips…Oh my God…

We were both looking at my swab result. I looked away and it took the wind out of me. No immediate thoughts on my head…just blank! 5 days ago, I had a cough, didn’t feel well so I decided to take a sick leave from work. I had terrible, terrible joint and back pains. My sister-in-law, Riza, (also a doctor) insisted that I take a swab test. On those days, I kept testing my sense of smell. I would smell my perfume, the dogs’ area, the smell was still there. But on the day that I was scheduled, I lost it!

I couldn’t smell anything!?

The thing that I dreaded most was the thought that I had infected my family… my officemates… I work closely with people older than I am. I couldn’t bear the thought of causing something as horrible as this…possibly taking away a life, even unintentionally. The anxiety was with me for days. What I could only cling to was prayer… I cried out to God to spare them…and myself. I even started praying the rosary again…

Lesson: I turn to God only when I am in trouble…

The tracer was quick to contact me and informed me of the strict rules of the city, I was to be taken to a facility. Since I learned that there was a surge in the cases, the only facility available were school classrooms. I waited and waited. Finally, they said there was an available place for me at a hotel. But days went by, no call came. I had a luggage packed and ready. I was told I would be there for 14 days or even more since I had symptoms. I brought a lot of books to read, it took most of the space. I waited. There were two times, my husband thought he saw an ambulance outside the gate but it just went past. False alarm, fake news. My heart raced every time.

I waited… By this time, my mama and papa had been calling every day. The whole family… my friends who learned about the news… Trixie, my younger sister, sent via rider, VCO Virgin Coconut Oil. I was to drink a tablespoon daily. My Ate Marie sent two kinds of multivitamins. Annabelle, a good friend from college, delivered a concoction she made. I drank it religiously. My dentist friend, Baby, sent freshly-baked goods… my doctor friend, Donabel, from grade school was monitoring my health status via messenger. I had quite a number of doctors watching over me. Erwin, my nephew, took it upon himself to also check on me every day if possible. Tet sending bible verses…Rocky, offering his service for anything I would need at the facility… My group of seniors at work, offering daily masses… I am truly grateful! Most especially, I had a husband preparing daily meals every single day, doing the chores I couldn’t help him with, my children knocking and peeking through the door to see how I was doing.
I didn’t have the energy but all that… gave me the strength I needed… not to go into despair, wallow in guilt or self-pity. Family and friends…what a treasure!

Lesson: You realize you are loved and who your real friends are…they come to you also in bad times…
I cannot stress it enough. The mental anxiety was a killer! Waiting for the test results of my husband and kids, my officemates… Our messengers, guards, cleaners… These were people only on contract with an agency which, I guess, had very minimal daily wages. They did not have employee permanent benefits like I did. How would they cope with the expenses? How would their families survive in case, they are tested positive?? My heart was already aching. Lord, not them… I was restless and had not slept properly until I learn, one by one, that they are safe! I felt responsible.

It was anguish. But God heard my prayers, my husband and children all tested negative. One of our guards, who I was texting with one night, said that his test was also negative. Thank you, God! Until only 4 of us, out of 18 in the workplace, were infected. Our messenger, Kuya Toto and manong guards were spared. Nori and Jonathan, our cleaners, included. I cried tears of joy…
Out of the 4, only one was taken to a facility. We kept in close communication. I created a group chat to make sure all of us had support. Another one, also on contract, got out of his boarding house and transferred into a vacant house. Our team, officemates from different departments, each one pulled through for us. It was remarkable. I would like to call this team, mine.

A team of kind, sincere, humble individuals…Our Agency Sales Director, Sir Mario, taking turns with my husband, Eide…sending meals, delivering items for daily use… doing errands for all of us. It was all so selfless. That kind of service was an act of love. Humanity at its finest! I couldn’t ask for a more caring team! I don’t consider them just colleagues, they are already an extension of my family.

Lesson: This is not just about you. Others are in need…their sufferings do not compare to yours…
…and now a member of the IAI club. Immunity Acquired by Infection. There should be nothing to be ashamed of. And yet, there are still some people who openly displays their ____, ….developing within us a fear… of being _____ away. A stigma from society. To a point that neighbors show their ___, even taking videos as you are being taken away by ambulance?! It is just sad. Reduced to_____
Lesson: I do not need the approval or acceptance of anyone.

I was given the chance to take a look at my life now. I have always had a fascination with death. At 28, I had my first brush with it. I was bleeding for two weeks and getting weaker. I had a series of tests. My OBgyne can only surmise that I might have been pregnant and didn’t know about it. I was admitted and had a D&C done.

The second time was a year or so later. I had difficulty breathing at midnight. I called my parents. They took me to the ER, the attendant offered the wheelchair instead to my father, thinking he was the patient. Papa was amused and told him, it was for me.

The nurse took my blood pressure and found out my BP was over the roof.

COVID was third.

When you are truly seeing death at your door, it gives you a different perspective.

Took my insurance file out. Life insurance, check. (But not enough! I should have paid for more…regrets) Memorial service, check (Loyola closed, got refunded for half so I got a St. Peter Plan), Memorial lot, check. (Visit me at Orchard Road Memorial Park) All certificates in one folder. I told Eide he has to be prepared

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