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When My Daughter Gets the Dreadful Covid-19

Since she graduated from her doctoral studies, my daughter Mutya has lived her life helping others. At work, she is a physical therapist. She loves what she does. She leaves for work early in the morning, with her young son, 5, and a daughter, soon to be 3, still sleeping, and no time to even say goodbye.

When she arrives home from work, she takes off her shoes and leaves them by the garage. She immediately takes a shower before playing with or hugging her kids – a daily ritual meant to prevent her family from getting infected in case she gets Covid-19 from work. That’s how careful she is.

Mutya knows fully well that working in a health care setting puts her at a greater risk of contracting Covid-19. But like many others in the health profession these days, she does what she has to do. There’s no turning back for her. It’s the profession that she chose.

As a father, I am also aware of the risks involved in Mutya being exposed to so many patients. But I just don’t think much about it. In fact, my attitude is that of resignation. If it happens, so be it. There’s not much I can do anyway. As I will find out later, Covid-19, with its potential to snap one’s life at any moment, can make a person reexamine one’s attitude, values, and beliefs. That’s what happened to me.

Around three weeks ago, Mutya started feeling ill. She started coughing. Maybe it was just an ordinary cold; nothing to worry about, I said to myself. She would ride it out. After all, her office has a protocol that requires every staff to wear masks and wash their hands regularly. The office is also sanitized on a regular basis to insulate the staff against getting Covid-19. So the probability of getting coronavirus was almost nil.

Three days after she started coughing and a day with fever, she decided to be tested for Covid-19. Later in the evening, we got a text from my daughter: Positive for Covid-19. I just could not believe it. My small world crumbled.

My mind wandered from surprise to denial, from shock to bewilderment, from looking for someone to blame to thinking about the prospects of her recovery. A lot more was going through my mind. But the most horrific was fear of the unknown.

The news hit me like a rock. I immediately informed my prayer warriors in Manila, in New York, and in Seattle to pray for my daughter. When things are rough and appear insurmountable, the first thing I do is to cling to the power of prayer. I happen to believe that prayers can heal. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. But I never give up. This time, I was overly confident that prayer is the best antidote to a disease that has no cure yet.

In a matter of days, Mutya’s symptoms worsened from coughing to body aches, to headaches, to losing her sense of smell and taste. My daughter who loves helping others now needed help. It took a few days to confirm that her husband also tested positive of Covid-19. This virus does not discriminate; even the young can get it. It’s not a hoax.

The hardest thing for me was being told by Mutya how her young daughter Nora kept on sobbing, while calling her name, because she would not go out of her isolation room. She probably missed her mommy and was distressed that she could not even see and hug her even if she was just in the house.

In times of uncertainties such as the one I was experiencing, I could not avoid asking: Why Mutya? Why her husband? What would happen to the children? The litany of prayers that my wife says everyday which, I am guessing, includes the safety of our children and their children, appears to be all for naught.

Of course, I did not find satisfactory answers to my questions. At the very least, I felt that my wife and I had to do something. We offered to take care of our grandchildren to assuage the fear of the little kids getting infected. But Mutya and her husband Kevin, knowing that Covid-19 is more severe for older people like us, spurned our offer.

For 13 days, while Mutya and her entire family were quarantining, I would wake up every morning thinking of how Mutya, Kevin and the kids were doing. There were moments that I would hesitate to text or phone them for any updates because I didn’t want to hear that their symptoms were getting worse.

Although I am the type of person who sometimes looks at the bad side of things, I tried to avoid it this time. I had to look at the brighter side of life. So every time Mutya talked to us by phone that she and Kevin did not have fever the night before or their oxygen level was normal, it was like one less thorn from my side. And when Mutya would tell us that her back was still achy, I felt like a knife was piercing my back. It truly hurts when you know that your child is in pain.

Emotionally, I felt like being in a roller coaster day in and day out. Sometimes I felt emotionally relieved. Sometimes I worried. But most of the time, I felt hopeful because Mutya and Kevin’s symptoms were not severe enough to require hospitalization. Their chance to survive this ordeal was strong.

True enough, after 13 days of quarantining, I was overjoyed when Mutya told us that she felt better and was finally going back to work. Silently, I could not hold back my emotions. Kevin was also on his way to recovery.

Simply getting well is the greatest gift that Mutya and Kevin could give to Nora as she celebrates her third birthday on August 21. She might be too young at this time to appreciate the significance of her parents’ surviving this pandemic. Hopefully, when she comes of age, she will realize how important a gift it was that she received on her third birthday.

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