Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Reflections at The Time of Covid19

There are many United Methodists who became infected with Covid-19. When I heard their story, they inspired me as they shared how God used their lives to bless others. One of them was Kuya Arnel de Pano who was one of the those who encouraged me and lifted my spirit during the time I was sick in the hospital. My prayer is that, just as other people's story blessed me, may God make me a blessing to others as well.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul. “Therefore, I have hope in Him.” (Lamentations 3:24)

When I got back to the hospital on the first Monday morning of September, I was informed that I got exposed to a doctor who may be positive. The next day, I was monitoring myself. On Wednesday, I was not feeling well so I went home early because I thought it was just a migraine. The next day, I quarantined myself when I learned that some of the other doctors already tested positive for Covid19. I went back in the afternoon to the hospital to have my swab test. I monitored my body temperature and it was persistently going high up to 37. 5. Later that night, my body temperature was already at 38 degrees so I immediately went to the hospital. I was admitted on Thursday night.

I was anxious of what would happen in the next few days. I was feeling Ok the first few days with only the fever as my persistent symptom. I was worried for myself because some of the affected doctors had pneumonia. I was exercising, eating well and doing everything in my capacity to make sure my body can cope. I was telling myself I have to get over the first 10 days without any respiratory symptoms. The worst Covid19 symptoms usually appear during the first 10 days. However, on the 8th day the fever was persistent and I was catching my breath with my short walk to the rest room. My chest X-ray and CT scan showed severe pneumonia. I was given oxygen but I refused thinking that I can train my lungs to naturally manage the situation. But the next day, my oxygen saturation was going below the acceptable level of 90. I was having short shallow breaths but putting the oxygen did help me breath better. Different thoughts started to fill my mind at that point. I was still within the 10-day period where most of the morbid cases of Covid-19 usually takes place. In those moments, I just stared at the window. In an instant, the doctor is now the patient.

I was emotionally, mentally and spiritually stressed as a patient. I was in a situation where I was not just a patient trying to recover physically but was also struggling emotionally and mentally. I was thinking how health workers affected with Covid-19 may have felt knowing they were at a critical condition and could die. I did not fear death but there was sadness in me. I was lamenting. I was also thinking how my Uncle, the elder brother of my father, may have felt during his own hospitalization. He knew he had Covid19 and he knew he was in critical condition. No one was with him while he was in the hospital. What were his thoughts then? My uncle died the next day after he was confined. Not one family member was with him when he died and when he was buried. It was emotionally stressful for me. Our family could not even grieve properly for his death. I was also thinking of the patient in the next room. I can hear the beep of his ventilator. For several days I wake up at night to the sound of that beep. But one afternoon, the nurse called code on him. My next room neighbor did not make it. He was another death case from Covid19. I can imagine the grief of the family. It seemed an eternity of mental and emotional stress for me. Even if I am a clergy, I was in a spiritual crisis. If I do not make it, I would have many unaccomplished goals. I would be leaving my wife and kids with nothing. I would not fulfill my promise to my family. I would let my friends and colleagues down. I felt the gift of life is wasted. I turned to God.

My lamentations turned into questions. How could I overcome my situation? When I turned to God, I realized what was wrong. I asked myself, how long have I been trying to protect myself from Covid19? How hard am I trying to heal myself from Covid19? How many people have messaged and told me with good intentions to keep myself healthy? But where was God in all of those efforts? Have I not trusted too much on my own strength? Have I forgotten to put everything on God alone? Is not God the God of everything? Then why am I trying to make things happen? For the longest time, I was trying to fight the virus by myself. This concept was fed by messages of “kaya mo yan” (you can do it), “palakas ka”(just be strong), “ganito gawin mo, ganyan” (do this and that). These messages feed in me the thought that I can fight the virus with my own effort, I just need to do some things for my body to resist it. But I realized that God was left out in the equation. In my own effort, God was not part of the healing. It should not be that way. God is the one who should heal me, not me. God will desire to happen what God wants to happen, not me. God will use the cells in my body, even the medicine and technology if God so desires, not me. I should surrender all to God and let God. No effort from me to heal me but my only effort is to surrender to God. It will be God at work, all the time.

I was more hopeful as days went by. On the 10th day, I told myself to take it one day at a time. I will be improving only by God’s work. I am not yet out of the woods but there is hope. I will get pass the critical period. The pulmonologist visited me and told me that my laboratories were improving but I needed to shift to new antibiotics. That was great news for me. It made my spirits high. It boosted my morale. Only by God’s miraculous work can this happen. I never lost hope in God. Even when I was thinking the worst that could happen to me, that is when my hope in God was greater. I understood that hope is when everything is impossible, you still believe something good can happen. Hope is the only thing left. Hope is the only thing that keeps a person alive in the worst situation.

Every morning, my hope gets high when I see the break of dawn. I would open my phone and listen to hymns in YouTube. - “When you don’t understand, when you don’t see His plan, when you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.” - These songs remind me to hope in God. I would read prayers of healing from family, friends and church communities. People who overcame this illness inspired me and strengthened my hope. It is difficult to get by everyday with all the worries and anxieties and the negative “what ifs” without having hope. I told myself to never lose hope or you will never survive. When I was having difficulty of breathing, I prayed to God who is my hope. I cannot do it. But I have hope in God that God can do it for me. I have hope that in God’s perfect time I will be healed. I held on to that hope. When I can just easily give up, hope is the only thing left to keep you focused on recovering and getting better. I have high hopes because I have a great God. I never doubted so my faith in him never wavered. My hope of recovery was never lost because I know God can do it. I was able to sustain and fight because God is my hope.