‘Vaccines work’: Dinky Soliman widower writes COVID-19 memoir
MANILA, Philippines — Former Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman passed away yesterday. She was 68.
Vice-President Leni Robredo relayed the news on her Sunday radio talk show. Former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said that his former colleague died at 7:32 a.m.
Soliman served as DSWD Secretary under Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III.
The agency said in a statement that Soliman was a devoted champion of social change. It also shared that under her term, she pushed for "milestone" laws, including Magna Carta of Social Workers, Magna Carta for Women and Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
Her husband, public interest lawyer Hector D. Soliman, detailed his family's journey in battling COVID-19.
Soliman shared that his wife was the most fragile as she had the most co-morbidities. He said that it was fortunate for them that the former DSWD Secretary was already in the hospital when COVID-19 struck their household of 13, including staff and drivers.
He credited their household's recovery to prayers and assistance from family, friends and their barangay. He also stressed the importance of getting vaccinated as it helped him and some members of the family battle with the virus with less difficulty than those who did not get vaccinated.
The following is Soliman's essay on their COVID-19 experience:
The day our house stood still
"On a typical day, my youngest grandson Gian Lucca, all of seven months, would arrive at around 8AM in the house, brought by his parents, left with us for the day with the nanny and the parents would go to work. We would sing to him Bahay Kubo and Atin Cu Pung Singsing, very traditional songs, while the other young grandchild of four years (Vujan) would prance about and also play with his younger cousin. All the other members of the household had either work from home, school from home and other chores. This was our typical day.
All of that has changed come August 15, 2021, when COVID descended upon our household in full force. I caught mine in the hospital while attending to my wife Dinky, who also later turned out positive. The contagion was quick and ferocious- my wife and I, my son and his wife, my daughter and my son in law, my five-month-old grandson, four household staff and one driver, and one niece – we all tested positive. A total of 13 persons. On that day, the house stood still. No more visit from our Gian Lucca, and no more songs filled the air. We were all in quarantine, not knowing what to do next and trying to figure out the best approach to this illness.
Fast forward to today, the second of September 2021, all of us have survived the disease. Dinky was the most fragile, since she has a lot of co-morbidities, but was fortunate when COVID struck that she was already in the hospital. My son Dino had severe shortness of breath, and was confined in the hospital for six days, but also got over the virus. Everybody else just stayed home or in a quarantine center, and eventually survived. How did we do it?"
Interlocking circles of prayer
"We can never ever be grateful enough for the people who prayed for us, who lifted us up to the Lord and wished us well. I could personally feel myself being raised, and offered to the Lord, with the prayer that He will take charge and do what is best for all of us. Healing Masses, Novenas, and then Thanksgiving Masses – spontaneously organized by friends and family. These gatherings are not only an opportunity for prayer, but also an opportunity to update how we all were, our latest status, and good news about recovery. A very social and spiritual event. By the power of videoconferencing, friends from North America and elsewhere are able to join us, and was a mini-reunion of sorts."
Friends, family to the rescue
"It is easy enough if only one of the household members has turned positive, and the other household members mobilize to quarantine and support the COVID patient. In our case, everybody was positive, and we all are dealing with our own sickness, the pace of which is different from one another. In the spirit of true solidarity, friends and family and even neighbors have come forward to help. Some have cooked food for us, some buy fruits and groceries, and some even volunteer to have our laundry washed. Little things that make life bearable. Again, we cannot thank these people enough."
Make the Barangay your friend
"I have to say kudos to Barangay Kagawad Tintin Suguitan (the kagawad in charge of COVID patients) who has been very helpful with our needs, The barangay has a standard protocol of providing Xray services to all positive patients, in order to detect the presence of pneumonia. The barangay with the help of the City Epidemiological Services Unit or CESU provided us this service and the barangay also offered to quarantine some of our staff in order to decongest the quarantine procedures in our household. Four of our staff ended up in HOPE2, a quarantine facility run by the Quezon City government in Novaliches, and all of them recovered after fourteen up to eighteen days of quarantine, and treatment. Once the quarantine is over, the local doctor provides them with a medical certificate and the city government provides an ambulance to bring them home."
Home care is the way to go
"Statistics have shown that majority of COVID cases with mild to moderate symptoms eventually recover, and there is no urgent need to rush each and every COVID patient to the hospital. My experience has shown that with careful monitoring and under the watchful eye of a medical team, COVID can be managed through home care. [Thanks to the COVID Home Care Program of the Medical City in conjunction with HelpLink, and our two attending physicians, Dr. Cybel Abad and Dr. Kim Potena.] The science has been growing, and home care provides a screening mechanism to hospitalize only those in real need. Out of the thirteen persons who have tested positive, only one (my son Dino) had to be brought to the hospital when his oxygen levels dipped to around 90. And even then, he did not stay too long in the hospital after Remdesivir was successfully administered to him. I was not even aware that this same drug can be administered from home, which was the case with my daughter in law. A doctor came to our house for five days and administered this drug intravenously and it worked."
Vaccination is key to protection
"I have had a double dose of Astra Zeneca when I got my COVID, but my O2 level has never gone down lower than 97 in the whole fourteen days of my quarantine. My symptoms were fever, and loss of appetite and tightness of my chest. But I could breathe, thank God, and I did not lose my sense of smell and taste, no diarrhea and no intense coughing. Compared to my son, who had to be hospitalized due to dropping O2 levels and intense coughing. And he is unvaccinated, and so is my daughter in law. My daughter and her husband are also fully vaccinated and as of today, she and the hubby have gone back to work and their symptoms were very mild. Vaccines work; believe me."
Better times ahead
"Now that we are all in the recuperation stage, we have made our garden our best friend. A place to get sunlight, take light meals in the veranda, do our deep breathing exercises, and be amazed at the wonder of life. It is as if we have all been given a new lease on life, and the simple act of being able to breathe deeply and feel that oxygen flow through the body is a new sensation never again to be forgotten and taken for granted. We thank God first of all, and family and friends, work colleagues who have provided support, counsel, advice and prayers through these very difficult times. We shall overcome, and we look forward to better times ahead."
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