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I beat COVID-19

/ 04:05 AM January 12, 2022

In September 2020, my apo went with me to the hospital for my routine medical checkup — as you do when you’re in your 80s. As it turned out, this visit was far from usual.

I was COVID-19 positive.

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Despite leading a healthy lifestyle, following health protocols, minimizing my trips outside the house, I tested positive for COVID-19.

I couldn’t fathom HOW on earth I got it. I also couldn’t find words to express how I felt. I thought, “Is this how I go?”

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I prayed harder than I’ve ever prayed. Then came peace and calm. In this space, the war-survivor in me kicked in and I felt resolute in getting through this and focused on the next steps.

The doctor at Amang Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Marikina prescribed some antibiotics, vitamins, and supplements. He reminded me to keep following health protocols, sleep well and relax to avoid stress, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and lessen intake of sugar, salt, and oils.

Luckily, being asymptomatic, I was able to do home quarantine. One of my apos helped by planning and making healthy meals which she left at my doorstep.

Alone at home, I pondered about what just happened. I found comfort in facts: based on the Department of Health daily updates, there were more recoveries than deaths. I felt confident that eventually, I will get well.

This brought back memories about surviving one of the most terrifying and agonizing experiences in my life: when the Japanese invaded the Philippines during World War II. People spent most part of their days looking for food and taking shelter. Many starved, got sick.

I myself contracted malaria and pneumonia, but with the aid of plants and my mother’s knowledge of medicinal herbs, I survived. Everyone was paralyzed by fear of getting caught or killed by the Japanese soldiers. Death was everywhere, without much of a recourse. Then came the day when my family and I were dealt the most painful blow. I was eight at that time. The Americans released one of their bombs close to where my father was hiding. It created such a huge blast it left a crater in its wake. My father died of a heart attack shortly after.

Fast forward to my 14-day quarantine. I planned the days to keep me healthy and purpose-driven.

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I started my days with a short morning prayer before I watch TV or read my newspaper, while enjoying my cup of coffee. Then I’d go out to the garage to get some sun, walk around or jog in place, do some dumbbell exercises, or try some karate-punching and taekwondo moves.

Even when I didn’t feel like eating, I forced myself to. Because I know good food will improve my immunity. About mid-morning, I’d do some upkeep around the house like watering the plants, sweeping, dusting off furniture, while listening to dance music to relax my mind and stave off boredom which comes from the sameness of every day. In the afternoons I’d watch the news or sports events. Then I’d go through my DVD collection to watch a classic film.

I also occupied myself with making simple stools and benches out of recycled materials from my storeroom.

Following a short afternoon nap, I’d read and puzzle over words and number games to exercise my brain. After which, I’d put on some Matt Monroe, Barry Manilow, and Tony Bennet karaoke songs and sing my heart away to exercise my lungs! (My neighbors can attest to that.)

This time in quarantine gave me time to reflect on my life and my relationship with God. I realized how one’s determination to survive and faith in God’s mercy and protection go hand in hand to surpass a seemingly unsurmountable challenge.

I also discovered the importance of relationships and feeling loved. Friends and relatives checked in to see how I was doing, wished me well, and prayed that I stay strong and confident to overcome my situation. These encouraging words really propelled me to the edge of recovery.

At the end of quarantine, a team from the Marikina City Health Office came to do my swab. After they left, I prayed to the Virgin Mary that I test negative.

My apo went to get the results the next day. Seeing her jumping with joy at my gate told me that my prayers have indeed been answered.

I have beaten COVID-19 with a balance of health in all life areas: physical, mental, social, and spiritual. If I can do it at 84, you can do it too.

* * *

Antonio A. Manuel, 84, is COVID-free and living the best year of his life. He is a retired teacher at the UP Integrated School, still active in playing ground golf with friends, and taking care of two cute doggies.

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TAGS: Antonio a. manuel, COVID-19 survivor, High Blood
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