MANILA, Philippines — “It’s a huge relief to be able to see the sun and feel its warmth on your face.”
This was how patient 754 (PH754), more popularly known as Senator Sonny Angara, described his feelings four days after winning his battle against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
It was on March 15 when the senator manifested symptoms of the disease and started self-isolating. The next day, he took a test, the result of which had turned out positive 10 days later.
“My wife was the most affected by the news although I had already somewhat conditioned her to believe I had the virus even before the test results to prepare her and our kids,” Angara told INQUIRER.net
“When we told our kids, we tried to put a positive spin that many recover from the virus,” he said.
Journey to recovery
Prior to Angara’s diagnosis, two of his colleagues at the Senate had also tested positive for the dreaded disease.
At the time Angara tested positive for the disease, over 800 people in the country have already been infected, with the death toll climbing to 54.
To date, 4,195 patients have been confirmed to have contracted the disease, with 221 deaths so far recorded.
The lawmaker admitted that when he first got the confirmation that he had contracted the disease, he had “thoughts of mortality.”
“In the hospital I felt more confident with the care of doctors but before that when I first got news I had thoughts of mortality— and I thought my kids were too young to lose their dad and I had to get well for them and for Tootsy,” he said.
Angara said he stayed at the hospital for about eight to nine days, both in an emergency room and a room in the hospital’s COVID-19 wing.
“Daily routine was a lot of blood tests and X-rays and medication. My body had to adjust at the beginning as I felt nauseated and lost appetite and even water made me feel like throwing up,” he recalled.
His family would send him home-cooked meals, Angara said.
But there would be times when he “would not even take a spoonful because of the nausea.”
During his stay at the hospital, Angara also admitted feeling lonely and depressed but messages of support from his family got him through it.
“Some struggles during that solitary hospital stay were loneliness and depression but this was definitely helped by a lot of messages from my very supportive and loving wife and kids they would write me funny letters and send pictures every day,” he said.
What also kept his spirits up were the “many messages and prayers sent my way by friends and members of various school and religious communities.”
“I felt (God had) a hand working through these good Samaritans. I would also briefly chat with my nurses and doctors and saw how difficult their work was. I learned to truly appreciate their great and courageous work,” he added.
Being free of COVID-19
The senator could not have felt more relieved when he got word from his doctors that they would finally be sending him home.
“They told me this a day or two before actually sending me home that they just had to wait for the formal results of the (COVID-19) nasal and pharyngeal swab tests,” he said.
It has been less than a week since Angara had been discharged from the hospital
“What I felt and experienced was the best of human nature and I see it everywhere around me and it inspires me even more. The Bayanihan spirit is very much at work and we need to channel it well and make sure it permeates the bureaucracy so the public will benefit, especially the poorest who will need it the most,” he said.
Angara said his experience brought him even closer to his family, gave him a new sense of appreciation to life and made him a more committed public servant.
“It’s a great pleasure to drink freshly brewed coffee or hot chocolate and eat fresh fruit and produce; things I took for granted before (COVID-19),” he said.
“The virus may have changed many things for the worse but it brought me closer to God, my wife and kids, and friends, and helped me make new ones. It made me appreciate my life more and hopefully be a more committed public servant going forward,” he added.
Now that he’s back with his family, Angara said he had been “working from home with a lot of time to read and research.”
“As a policy maker, (I) would like to contribute to the debates/dialogues on next steps to be taken by our government of which I’m a part,” he said.
“I’m feeling a lot better now, (though I) am still on some prescriptions. Am taking things slow as I regain my strength and energy,” he added.
Asked what he would say to those battling COVID-19, the lawmaker advised them to have faith in the country’s health workers who tirelessly manned the front lines since the first case was reported.
“I would advise our countrymen, especially those with the virus to have faith in our wonderful and talented doctors and nurses. They will receive very good care and have a good chance to recover,” he said.
“For those unaffected I would advise to stay healthy and keep their immunity up and of course to stay home—to protect themselves their families and the larger community. The times call on us to sacrifice a bit for the larger goal of conquering the virus,” he added.
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