Lessons From The Country's First Filipino COVID-19 Patient Who Made A Full Recovery
"While in confinement, I learned so many things which is probably why God put me to that test!" he says
Carlo Llanes Navarro was COVID-19 Patient No. 4.
After the Philippine health officials reported in February that the country's first three coronavirus-positive cases were foreigners, Carlo came next, and he became the first Filipino patient to test positive.
He had suspected that he might have caught the virus on the trip home from a family vacation in Japan on February 25. Deciding to play it safe—a decision he would eventually realize could have been what saved his and his family's lives—he submitted himself to for testing on March 3. Two days after, his worst fears were confirmed. "I received the frightening call from the DOH that evening. I was promptly whisked away by an ambulance to RITM in Alabang," he shares.
Take note: Carlo was only mildly symptomatic, exhibiting only chills and a low-grade fever, when he decided to get tested. In just a matter of two days, by the time he got his test results, he had developed a bad cough and muscle pain despite his fever breaking. The lesson here is that one does not need to be crippled by severe symptoms to be sick with COVID-19. If you suspect that you may have the virus, play it safe, be responsible, and get tested.
"It is easy to take the symptoms for granted. A cough. Sore throat. Muscle pains. One need not have a high fever to be Covid-19 positive. Looking at the DOH spreadsheet, one can even be totally asymptomatic," he writes.
Needless to say, Carlo's time at the hospital was life-threatening, but eventually, life-changing.
This husband and father was flooded with realization after realization, reason after reason to be thankful for the good in his life in spite of everything. He would go on to make a full recovery 15 days after his confinement—a beacon of hope for patients fighting for their lives and for loved ones praying for family members afflicted with the deadly virus.
In a Facebook post published earlier this week, Carlo details his ordeal, from when he first observed his COVID-19 symptoms, to the decisions he made about his health, the support he received from his family, and finally, what he wishes Filipinos to learn from his experience.
We share some of the most important points he made below:
There is no 100 percent-guarantee that you and your family will not catch the virus even with hypervigilance. The threat of infection is everywhere, and the best way to minimize that risk is to follow protocol.
"Because I got myself quickly tested, by my immediate confinement, I shielded my elderly parents. I shielded our senior household helpers. I shielded my family. When people are NOT tested, they can walk around and socialize thinking they just have a cold or slight malaise. Because I disclosed being infected to my workplace according to company protocol, all my contacts were tested by the Department of Health and quarantined. The DOH advised me that so far, my contacts have been cleared and are asymptomatic. For this, I am grateful."
Now is not the time to follow the Filipino the saying that goes, "Wala lang yan. Malayo naman yan sa bituka." Instead, be proactive about your health.
"...On March 3, I came down with chills and a low-grade fever (sinat) of 37.7 C. Days before symptoms appeared, I did not report to work. That night of March 3, I decided to play it safe and that I be immediately tested. St. Luke’s hospital did not see the need to test me. The hospital said my symptoms were mild, and Japan is not a Covid-19 hotspot. I insisted. I had to insist! I was tested. I was discharged. I went home in BGC... On March 5, Thursday, I had no more fever, but felt muscle pains and had a bad cough. I received the frightening call from the DOH that evening. I was promptly whisked away by an ambulance to RITM in Alabang."
With only a handful of available test kits, only those who exhibit severe symptoms and come from countries with known cases of community transmission were prioritized. Health Secretary Francsico T. Duque said last March 7, "We will be prioritizing testing of those symptomatic individuals found to have had close contact with the confirmed cases... for persons with known history of exposure or travel and with mild symptoms including cough, fever, cold, and sore throat, DOH is advising you to undergo home quarantine and contact your respective city/municipal health office for proper assessment, monitoring, and management."
Ignorance and self-centeredness might be worse than the virus itself. (The community quarantine is not only for you; it is meant to protect those around you, too).
"I realized that ignorance and inaction will cause the virus to spread faster. That should anyone experience ANY symptoms, they should stay home and limit contact with others. They should NOT shrug-off any symptoms and downplay them. This community quarantine is something we need to protect the people that we love."
Be a good person. These days, compassion and kindness might be the cure we need.
"I learned about the extraordinary love of my wife and daughter.... She kept me company for hours and days to keep me psychologically and emotionally sane! She prayed with me profusely! She called on people to pray for me. I knew I married right! One day I heard a nurse say that there was an old man who tested positive and was waiting for a room in RITM. I cannot stay there anymore! And finally, God intervened. A hospital agreed to take me!"
Be responsible for your household—and that means everyone in your home, not only your family.
"The next day, my entire household had themselves tested—our drivers included. At this point, while in RITM, I prayed fervently to spare all of them... All their tests came back negative. Thank God! All I need now is to worry about myself."
Remember: Our kasambahays, drivers, and house boys are at risk, too. They can also catch the virus and if their bodies are unable to fight the infection or if treatment comes a little too late, they could very well become a statistic in the country's COVID-19-related death count. If you are considered a person under investigation or monitoring, and especially if you have been diagnosed as a positive COVID-19 case, everyone under your roof must also received proper care.
Take of your hearts, minds, and spirits too, not only your physical body. Aim for overall wellness, not just to be free from physical infection.
"For two weeks in the hospital, it was not the physical pain that is frightening! It was the psychological effect that made it difficult. I was vomiting endlessly and had diarrhea probably due to stress.While in confinement, I learned so many things which is probably why God put me to that test!"
Read Carlo's full Facebook post below:
Photos from Carlo Llanes Navarro's Facebook page