THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
Friday last week, I received the news that my laboratory test results had shown that I am positive with the COVID 19 virus.
I had recently decided to take the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test for two reasons. First, just as a matter of prudence and precaution. My public service role has made it inevitable that I should go outdoors and meet with people. I have religiously followed health safety protocols, yet, I know that the COVID-19 virus is a vicious enemy that would try to find ways to infiltrate and break through the ramparts of our health defenses.
Second, I experienced episodes of shortness of breath. I could have ascribed the episodes to unusually humid weather we have had in the past few days or to the physical exhaustion that comes with public service. The doctor in me said, however, that shortness of breath could mean insufficient oxygen supply which may, in turn, be caused by decreased functioning of the lungs.
When the lungs are not performing up to par, that could be a red flag health situation. That could mean that an “invasion” may be taking place in this vital human organ.
My suspicion was confirmed as the test results were relayed to me.
I received the news the way most people who were infected by the virus had: with a dose of shock and an initial hint of denial. “This cannot be true; there could have been a mistake,” that tiny voice whispered in my head.
Another voice inside my head reminded me that the RT-PCR nasopharyngeal test currently enjoys high levels of reliability – close to 100 percent, experts say.
The shock and denial were quickly followed by a feeling of anger and self-blame.
“How could I have let my guard down?” “How could I have lapsed into a moment of carelessness?”
The anger and self-blame then graduated into a feeling of sadness as I realized the consequence of being “positive” with the virus.
I realized this would mean isolation. This would mean I would not be able to touch, to hold the hands, to kiss nor to hug my loved ones. This would mean a prolonged period of not spending time with them, not hearing their voices except through the virtual platform.
It dawned on me that the isolation from one’s loved ones is a bigger pain and a bigger fear than the possibility of dying from the disease.
At this point, my situation has been diagnosed as a “mild case”. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will stay that way and that the healing process would be a quick one.
I am aware that having been diagnosed as “positive” would now require me to summon the will and strength to remain “positive” – that is, in terms of outlook, attitude and mental state.
Staying “positive” is a decision more than just a feeling. It is a decision to make sure that one has a balanced view of the situation. True, being infected by the COVID 19 virus is a risky situation. One cannot take it lightly and one must allow himself to be subjected to sustained and thorough medical monitoring and treatment.
It is also a fact that when an organ within one’s cardiovascular system is impaired or is under attack by bacteria or virus, that could plunge one into a state of depression. Low oxygen levels in the body cause sensations of physical exhaustion. That feeling of tiredness could, in turn, create a sense of emotional fatigue.
A patient must be aware of this reality. A sick person often magnifies his perception of his medical condition.
Staying on a positive mental state despite an adverse medical condition, as we said, is a decision.
It is a decision to take positive action and steps.
These include staying in dialogue with one’s attending physicians. They include asking doctors relevant questions and listening well both to diagnoses and advice. They include collaborating with the medical team involved in the treatment processes.
Staying positive means struggling with and winning over negative thoughts and imagination. It means feeding one’s mind with useful information. It means allowing oneself to be showered by the well-wishes, prayers and affirmation of family, peers and friends who care.
I never imagined that I would be part of last Friday’s statistics. I was diagnosed positive with the virus just a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the country is nearing the critical “red line” – that level of infection at which our healthcare system may no longer be able to cope.
I am aware that nearly 900,000 of our countrymen has gone through the same ordeal as what I am about to go through. A number of them did not survive that ordeal including my cousin Joey who died a few weeks ago. I have had a number of family members – my parents Rizal Governor Ito and Nini Ynares included – who had been infected with the virus at one point..
I am hopeful that the bout with the infection would be a quick one.
As I go through the experience, I will keep my eyes and my thoughts on the wonderful things that lie ahead and the tasks that need to be done as we continue with our public service.
I will also hold on to the faith that prayer does move mountains. I am energized by the knowledge that many are praying for my quick recovery as I have done for those who had gotten ill with the virus in the past.
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