Inspiring and Informing Filipino Mommies whoever they are, whatever they do, and wherever they may be.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Mommy Suzi Garcia-Rufino: Using Covid-19 Battlescars to Inspire and Help Others

April 15, 2020

Covid-19, the virus that caused a global pandemic, seem to be the most difficult enemy anyone has to face against. Especially for a mother who has a pre-existing condition, battling Covid-19 is like being in a lose-lose situation. Not for Mommy Suzi Garcia-Rufino, however, as she fought so many rounds of battles against this coronavirus which she ultimately won. All she had taken away were battlescars to inspire and help others.

Mommy Suzi shares her battle against Covid-19 to Mommy's Tambayan.

I am a mother of 2 boys, wife, teacher, who survived COVID-19. I made this testimony to answer some questions of mommies in TBDM Mommy Club and to inspire people to KEEP THE FAITH AND WIN THE FIGHT!

1. Paano mo nakuha iyong virus? Do you have pre-existing condition? May supplements/vitamins ka ba before? O may diet ka ba? 

I don’t have an idea kung saan ko nakuha ang virus. Prior to that, I just went to a market, supermarket and Pharmacy to prepare for the coming crisis. That was around March 7-10.

I do have a pre-existing condition. I’m asthmatic. Before I got the virus, I was taking Sodium Ascorbate with Zinc and Multi Vitamins. I also started Intermittent Fasting a week before that, so, I think that was one of the reasons why I got vulnerable to the virus and made my immune system at risk. In times like these, please don’t make a sudden change to your diet. Stick to your diet until the virus is over. But for those who are in IF diet for a long time, just continue it. This is only my opinion.

2. May nahawa ba sa family mo? Were you still breastfeeding your baby prior? 

I was so scared. I was worried what lies ahead in the hospital. What if I passed the virus to my children and the rest of my family at home? Great fear came to me that time. But as a MOM, I needed to be strong for my children. I had to face this battle!

I isolated myself in a room the first time I had fever. By God’s mercy and grace, people at home were doing well. Until now, we are still monitoring everyone for possible symptoms.

The hardest part for me is the breastfeeding. My 2yo child and 4yo child are both breastfeeding. This was really heart breaking for me. While I was on self-quarantine, there were nights that I went to my children’s room to breastfeed them. I did that after taking a bath and had to wear face mask. Imagine, I took a bath in the middle of the night so I would not expose them to the virus that I could possibly have. So, yung dating unli-breastfeeding, every night nalang.

3. Ilang araw bago ka nagpa admit. Ilang araw bago na-confirm na may Covid?

To answer the questions below, I’ll tell you the whole story.

Day 1: I woke up so tired and having a muscle ache. Yung feeling na magkakatrangkaso ka.

Day 2: My muscle ache and feeling of fatigue subsided but I already had fever. I also had mild cough. I’m asthmatic so I’m used to this. So I just took my asthma meds. I also took Paracetamol round the clock. That time, I was already in self quarantine in a room.

Day 3: My fever continued. So I called my cousin who is a doctor, my mom’s best friend who is a doctor and my brother’s mom who’s also a doctor. They all advised me to go to the hospital. So I drove myself to a private hospital near our place. I was interviewed outside. They had this sort of a tent outside the emergency room that says ‘TRIAGE” with a nurse without a PPE. She was just wearing a face mask.  Naawa ako sa nurses and staff kasi yun yung time na wala talaga silang mabilhan and if they had ordered somewhere, di pa siguro dumarating.

After the interview, I was not recommended to be swabbed because I didn’t have travel history and I did not have direct contact with a COVID patient. How would I know? Some people who are positive can be asymptomatic! I asked them, “Please swab me! I have babies to breastfeed!”. They said, only RESU from the City Health Office (CHO) can do the swab test. The doctor will just refer me. Sabi ko, “Refer me then.” I had a feeling that they didn’t want to admit me in their hospital. They did an X-ray and found out it was clear. So I went home to continue my self-quarantine and was advised to go back to the hospital when the symptoms progress.

Day 4: Fever did not stop. I still took Paracetamol round the clock. I texted the doctor of our City Health Office. He/She advised me to go to the hospital when I feel difficulty of breathing and when the symptoms progress.

Day 5: I got a diarrhea. I pooped 3 times and I felt like I was going to be dehydrated. My sisters drove me to another hospital (not the same hospital above) I decided to go there because I knew I have former RadTech students who are working in the same hospital. I thought, if ever na maadmit ako, and di sila pumayag na may magbantay, I would have someone there to look after me. Kahit may sisilip lang.

They interviewed me and my former student did my X-ray. It was still clear.
I was admitted as a PUI. I stayed in a regular room with 1 company who is my brother. He was wearing a PPE while inside the room just like all the staff, doctor and nurses that went inside my room.

I had dextrose, 2 Intravenous antibiotic (once a day and 3 times a day), mucolytic, nebulization, Nexthaler and Montelukast Levocetirizine for my asthma, and oxygen to help me breathe better. As an asthmatic, I am used to difficulty of breathing.

They have these categories but I’m not sure.
• Asymptomatic
• Mild
• Moderate
• Critical
My case was Moderate.  Kasi siguro dahil naagapan agad. So, if you are symptomatic, please go to the hospital. Habang wala pang April 15.

Day 6: I had my first swab test taken by RESU of CHO. They would send it to RITM to be processed. During the swab test, the RESU person would measure my face. Kaya pala nung pinasok na yung swab, hanggang brain ko yata ang pagtusok! Swab test is not painful. It is not comfortable. Para ka mahahatsing. Maninigas ka kasi wala kang magawa kundi tiisiin. The other swab will be taken from your mouth (ngala-ngala). That one was ok.

BATTLE AGAINST DEPRESSION

Day 11: The result is POSITIVE to Covid 19! I cried. I thought I was better. I was still in denial.

When I was a PUI, I have my brother with me in a regular room. So when I got the positive result, he was sent home to for self-quarantine. Buti nalang yung house ng family ng husband ko, walang tao. So he stayed there for 14 days. We even extended his quarantine for 7 more days. So far he’s doing well. Wearing PPE, gloves and mask paid off. We pray every day na wala syang maramdaman na kahit anong symptoms. He was also not tested because he is not having symptoms.

I was transferred to ICU for close monitoring. I was alone there in a room but I can see some patients through the glass doors. There was one positive patient there in front of my room. He was an elderly. I waived at him and he waived back. I saw him having trouble breathing and he was intubated. I was terribly scared again. So I prayed and prayed. I CAN'T DIE! I knew I won’t die. Who will love my children like I do? I knew the answer. It was God. He loves them more than I do. Kaya di nya hahayaang mawalan sila ng ina. In did cling to God. He was with me during my darkest hours. He was very close and He's never forsaken me.

I realized so many things:

Day 11-17:

a. I am nothing without God. I can’t be proud of anything. I have nothing to do but to trust GOD and submit to His will. I’m a Christian and I promised to Him that I would be more faithful when He allows me to recover.

b. Family first. I recalled all the times that I was not with my children because of my job as a broker. I was always busy. I breastfeed while checking e-mails, suddenly stop my breastfeeding when a client calls. I missed eye-to-eye contact with my children. I missed my husband who is in lockdown abroad. It was devastating and I was consumed. I promised to be with my children when He allows me to survive.  I also promised to love my husband more and be more understanding when he comes home. I cannot thank enough my sisters, brothers and mom (who’s always crying) for always being there for each other. They are like always “Game On, Kaya natin to”.

c.  What is God’s Plan? Life is short. “Am I done? I still have so many things to do. Should God allow me to finish my unfinished life? Does he have an unfinished plan for me? If yes, what would that be?” To know the answer to my questions, I attended Live sermons and watched pastors preach about COVID 19 and God. I was reminded that God sent plagues to Egypt mentioned in the Bible. He did that because people’s heart is sinful and tough. Yes, He sent this Covid-19 because we forgot about GOD. We are busy with too many unnecessary things in life. We forgot who GOD is. After the plagues, God saved His people. Those who have faith and followed His instructions. Those whom He loved. I taught this story in one of my Sunday School class at church. How can I forget the lesson that God saved His people from all the 10 plagues?

At that point, I knew God has a plan for me. He will never forsake me.
I talked to my family more often. We did online Bible studies. I talked to my friends and relatives.

d. The True Heroes. There, I saw how noble the profession of our medical front liners is. I was so helpless, kahit na pagdumi at pagweewee, I needed my nurse. I am a mom, I take care of everybody. But that time, I felt so helpless. The nurse was just one call away but she was attending to 1 critical patient, me and a nurse who was also positive. I asked them. “Bakit nandito pa kayo, baka mahawa kayo sa amin”. They answered me, “Maam, umuwi na po yung iba, kami po one month nang di umuuwi. Ganito po talaga ang tungkulin namin. Sino pa mag-aalaga sa inyo kung uuwi kami lahat?” I pity them. I wished I could help ease their sufferings by getting better.

e. Thanks to Grab Riders and Netflix. Who wants hospital food? Even the nurses don’t like it. Thanks to Grab drivers who delivered food for us and my nurses. I ordered almost everyday us. They also shared their food to me. We bonded like a family at ICU. During the most boring times, I could hear the other patient doing Tiktok videos. That means he’s ok. Thank you, God! The critical patient, He was already negative to Covid. I finished a day watching Money Heist. Sorry Lord, I binge watched.

BATTLE AGAINST DISCRIMINATION AND MALTREATMENT

I learned that days ago, while I was fighting for my life, the Homeowners Association of our subdivision made an official public announcement through their Facebook page. They mentioned my name and my sister’s name in an announcement that I was positive to Covid-19. It also broke my heart when I knew that my neighbors gossiped about me and my children who are PUMs at that time were discriminated. They were just talking outside my house that aunt can here them.
I realized.... we are supposed to be a family in the neighborhood. How can a mom do that to another mom? Yes, we are all scared. I am too!

They clearly violates Data Privacy Act of 2012
which denounces people who irresponsibly publicize the personal data of persons under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring(PUMs), thus exposing them to danger even graver than the novel coronavirus itself – that of maltreatment, online bullying and physical violence from individuals who may be driven by desperation and fear.

That happened already when my children were even forced to close the windows and doors during and even after the 14-day home quarantine. Depriving the children of proper ventilation and their right to play within the vicinity of our property which I think is unacceptable and inhumane. Everytime mag-open sila ng windows, may magrereport na kapitbahay sa guard. Then the guard would go to my house and tell my aunt to shut the doors and windows. They are just but children! Why would they deprive fresh air lalo ngayong napakainit ng panahon!

The president of the association kept on asking for my medical abstract from my family claiming that it was a directive from the barangay. Why does she need a clinical abstract? Read Data Privacy Act please! Nakakita ka ba ng name ng patients na published by DOH? They even have code names. PH1, PH2... But never release data that would reveal the identity of the patients and risk their security.

This violates R. A. 11332 Otherwise Known as the "Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases" (d) Data collection, analysis, and the dissemination of information from official disease surveillance and response systems can only be done by authorized personnel from the DOH and its local counterparts and may only be used for public health concern purposes only;

Clearly, the president of the assoc is not an authorized personnel from DOH or its local counterparts such as CHO.

There were also people who called the hospital where I was confined telling that she was a relative asking for the patient's condition!

One of my neighbors went out of her house and told people about my condition. It's all on CCTV. Maybe she got all the information from the person who asked for my clinical abstract. There were also people who called the hospital and ask the nurses who are working in the same hospital.

Why would they do that to us? What will they do with such information? It was exacerbating. They added to my burdens.

But for now, I will forego this one.

May God give me a forgiving heart when I get to have a meeting with them.

Day 18- I was re-swabbed! I was praying for a faster result and of course a negative one. I missed my babies so much. I used to cry every time I opened my eyes in the morning and realized all of these were true. I wished, that was just a nightmare!

Day 20- The result was NEGATIVE! Praise God! I had a Rapid Test. This will test if I already developed antibodies against COVID-19. And I had a POSITIVE Result! Meaning I already have antibodies present in my system. I coordinated with 3 doctors from PGH, NCH, and St Luke’s. I was given the guidelines on how to donate my blood plasma when I fully recover. I realized, maybe this is one of the reasons why God allowed this to happen to me. He will use me to help others.

Day 21- To God belongs the glory! I got my first bath after 20 days and was discharge by my doctor. For 2 weeks, punas punas lang ng wipes ginawa ko. Di ka rin naman pala babaho ng husto. My curly hair became 1 bunch of hair na dikit-dikit na. Taong Grasa Level 5 na tawag ko sa sarili ko. 😊

This is our graduation video made by the hospital to celebrate its first two recovered patients!





BATTLE AGAINST THE BILL

I was hospitalized in a private hospital and one of my worries is the bill. I surrendered it all to God. I knew He will never forsake me. I am His child. Why should I worry? After a few days, the Chief of Philhealth announced that they will cover all hospitalization expenses of all the Covid patients admitted until April 14. The hospital promised us to reimburse all partial payments made. They released a new case rate/package for the coverage of Covid patients admitted starting April 15, 2020.

PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales said on Tuesday that COVID-19 patients admitted April 15 onwards will be covered by a case rate package divided into four categories.
• Mild pneumonia: P43,997
• Moderate pneumonia: P143,267
• Severe pneumonia: P333,519
• Critical pneumonia: P786,384
Read more: PhilHealth sets new case rate benefits for COVID-19 patients starting April 15

RECOVER AND REFOCUS

Now I am still I’m a day self-quarantine with limited interaction with my children. My 4yo child latched to breastfeed the moment he saw me. But my 2 yo child is having difficulty in adjusting. My heart breaks again. I didn’t expect there’s another battle to fight! I am not ready to wean Him. He needs my breast milk now more than ever. After every bath, I offer breastfeeding to them. My dream is to be with the whole day, just breast feeding my babies.

While on quarantine, I launched a fund raising for the poorest of the poor in 2 communities near us. I have people who will do the legwork because I am still in recovery stage. If you want to see it, it’s on my page:



God saved me from danger. This time, I also want to help others.

TO GOD BELONGS ALL THE GLORY!

Thank you Mommy Suzi for sharing your inspiring story with us! It is clear that your faith in God got you through all this and we continue to pray for you and your family's good health. Sigurado kami na marami kang nainspire na Mommies na kayang kaya natin manalo sa isang kalabang hindi nakikita basta may pananampalataya sa Diyos! God bless you Mommy Suzi!

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