The Year of Fear and Kindness


My worst fear happened during the pandemic.

I knew we just had to be prepared for it as the nephrologist had said two years ago, but I always believed in the power of hope and trusting the universe to give only what one can bear to carry.

My husband, who had been diagnosed with chronic kidney disorder (CKD), needed to be rushed to the hospital after complaining of weakness and nausea. P’s kidney disease had worsened and his creatinine had risen to critical levels. Not the best time to be in a hospital as the coronavirus has made it very risky for infections.

But P’s condition necessitated medical attention.

He was brought to the emergency room for oxygen, for observation and to have a Covid swab test, a requirement by the government. He was actually in a 50-50 survival situation, making things even more distressing.

It was hard not to have any emotion at this point but it was a harder decision on my part not to be with him as we had a son

— even being in a place with a high risk for infection (the hospital) would have a domino effect in terms of the other people I might also put at risk.

We communicated through Messenger.

I could see that he looked disoriented and scared — especially since he felt isolated with plastic barriers all over him.

But the call at that moment was to think pragmatically. What’s the next step? What’s the next safest and most practical step to take?

Beast mode on for the New Year to brave the new world for me and my family. I got this — with a lot of big help from friends and family, of course.

P tested negative for Covid-19 and was moved to a private room and given more tests.

He was up for his first dialysis

— exactly what I was praying wouldn’t happen in this pandemic.

Under the skin of his neck was inserted a catheter or metal tubes, which would be used for pumping blood to and from a hemodialysis machine.

The week that he was confined was like a terrible ride in a rickety roller coaster.

I was thankful for the treatment he was getting but there were a million things running in my head.

If I could bilocate to keep things together, I would.

The longest gut-wrenching seven days were all about reporting for work while making sure I’m updated with P’s conditions, and figuring out each day — as expenses soared unbelievable six figures

— where to get the money to pay for the hospital bills.

The other thing that induced guilt was the fact that I couldn’t spend time with him in the hospital for safety reasons.

My movements were limited to the accounting, billing and Philhealth sections that there was no need for a bantay since the hospital staff made sure to attend to patients 24/7.

Frankly, I was angry at myself.

Had I not prepared enough? And why is this happening to us? Besides P, we had a child with special needs, plus the work load at the office was another thing.

Every morning, I would wake up frustrated over the situation.

I had just come off therapy sessions for major depression before Covid-19 and had stopped medicating. Many things ran in my head: What if I can’t handle everything? What if I suffer a breakdown? But as I will always remember from a yoga teacher: “It’s just your fucking mind.”

P’s discharge was another story.

While waiting for the healing of his forearm AV fistula and before the catheter on his neck could be removed, there were also the dangers of bacteria infection that caused him to suffer chills and high fever during dialysis.

This brought us to the ER twice.

I was beginning to act like a stressed-out cat on its feet, not knowing what new developments would happen next.

Things eventually stabilized as P continued to recover. The household settled again with P’s new normal routines.

The biggest thing I learned about this experience is that we weren’t really alone.

The pandemic isn’t just about conquering our worst fears but it also brought a certain compassion and generous amounts of care in everyone.

Throughout this crisis, we’ve been hearing stories of people helping each other.

From my own experience, family and friends reached out in any way they can.

The overflow of kindness was something I wouldn’t be able to repay.

Even with social distancing, friends showed that they could still be near.

There were flowers and fruits sent to us for cheering up and for P’s nutrition, respectively. My gal pal from New York surprised me with bottles of wine delivered to the house: “Madz, you need that,” she said. (“Madz” was her term of endearment for mare).

The journey to P’s recovery is far from over.

I know there’ll be much more struggles ahead. But this pandemic has made me tough, a strength of will that’s also backed by great faith and hope in destiny and the universe.

Beast mode on for the New Year to brave the new world for me and my family.

I got this — with a lot of big help from friends and family, of course.

Meanwhile, pardon me for waxing philosophical while I sip some wine: The biggest threat to man’s extinction in this century requires medical solutions. Yet, for survival, we could all pass around some humanity.

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