(Editor’s note: Due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, we are reposting this story. We hope it can help.)
At a time when people who tested positive for COVID-19 were brought to isolation facilities or hospitals, I chose to stay at home.
This, despite having pneumonia, on top of being asthmatic and hypertensive.
My rationale was simple. I didn’t want to add to the growing number of patients in the hospitals. I believed other patients needed that bed more than I did. This was also the reason why I rejected the idea of going into an isolation facility.
But while burning with fever, gasping for breath, cough and colds, and with at least five doctors monitoring my situation, I often felt I should just rush to the emergency room. But I stayed at home. It was mere stubbornness that kept my resolve.
One week into my isolation, my oxygen saturation fell to 84, below the normal level of 94 to 99. My doctors said I could either go to the ER or get an oxygen tank. I immediately chose the latter. An oxygen tank was delivered. And instead of dwelling on the development, I decided to focus on rearranging my room.
House fit for isolation
Ours is a four-bedroom house with two comfort rooms.
When I contracted the disease, the only other family member I was with was my father. This was the main reason why the local barangay allowed us to stay at home despite the usual protocol of sending symptomatic patients to an isolation facility.
Before COVID-19 hit our household, my father and I slept in one room. It had been a practical choice to save on electricity bills, especially as my mom was still with my sister’s family overseas.
However, at the onset of my fever, we immediately took to different rooms, communicating via phone calls or text messages. This steadily became difficult, with my fever going up to as high as 39.8-degrees celsius. Moving around alone also became a struggle. It was fundamentally uncomfortable, too, since I enjoyed talking to my parents face to face.
We didn’t eat at the same time and when I had to use the bathroom, I needed to coordinate with my father and have him go inside his room to avoid contact.
Even the furniture in the living room and dining room were moved to give me a bigger space to walk, not because I won’t fit but to avoid touching anything.
Seeing my father wear personal protective equipment just to attend to me was heartbreaking — but it was always better to be on the safe side, especially since my father is already in his senior years.
Make shift hospital room
I felt like a character in a movie trapped inside a room, but for the greater good.
I turned my personal space into a makeshift hospital room. I placed essentials such as alcohol and medicine on my bedside table, alongside equipment — some I could hardly pronounce — that had become necessary to my journey: a sphygmomanometer, oximeter, nebulizer, and Ventolin inhaler. All of these were strategically placed in areas where I could easily reach them, mainly because it seemed that moving, breathing, and at some point, living became a struggle.
Aside from the air-cooling units and humidifier, a purifier was also placed inside my room, with the belief that it helps to kill viruses that cause COVID-19.
But the most important accent to my room was my new best friend: the oxygen tank. Patients with co-morbidities related to lung problems need to have a readily-available oxygen tank because breathing may become a big problem.
However, my small tank could only be filled with five lbs of oxygen at a time, which was consumed in only two hours or less. We had to ask relatives and friends who owned oxygen tanks to lend theirs, looking particularly for the 10- and 15-lb cylinders, which could last for two nights, at almost six-hour usage each.
This was when I discovered that good samaritans still exist. A family friend bought me a 50-lb cylinder, which was so much more cost-effective in terms of refills, especially since we’d already spent thousands on RT-PCR tests and other laboratory exams.
Staying at home
After almost two months in isolation, I have thankfully recovered from COVID-19. There are many uncertainties ahead, but this is one challenging chapter in my life I was blessed enough to conquer.
And while other people don’t have the luxury of having their own separate rooms to self-isolate in the comforts of their home, those who have that choice should take it. Some re-arrangement may help do the trick in helping you feel more at ease while fighting this type of battle.
On top of medical supplies needed, in my COVID-19 journey, space mattered. A clean, well-lit and well-ventilated place helped me recover from that initial feeling of drowning when breathing, a struggle I had to endure when I sleep.
Choosing which furniture, appliance or even medical equipment to be placed inside your room for isolation is important, especially with your limited movement. Create as much space as you can. You wouldn’t want a cramped-up environment when you try to move around.
You see, while isolation at home requires a lot of things, including a separate room and washroom for the patient, and constant monitoring of a licensed physician, being in a familiar environment gives you peace of mind. More than that, knowing that you are not alone in this battle — physically and emotionally — is deeply essential to recovery.