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Are you well or not? |

Sunday Lifestyle

Are you well or not?

Barbara C. Gonzalez - The Philippine Star

You know my husband, his caregiver and I have just survived a mild version of COVID. We took the antigen test available at all drug stores and passed it. So what’s to worry about? We are all well.

It was my husband’s birthday. His children invited us to lunch. My husband is always uncomfortable when he’s out of our little apartment. Since he came from the hospital I noticed changes in his behavior. The biggest one was a loss of appetite. Was this a result of COVID?

So I’ve been reading up on COVID, trying my best to understand that strange disease that feels like the flu but apparently is worse than the flu. This has led me to the conclusion that often we don’t talk well with our doctors, who in the course of their studies and their practice use a lot of medical terms that we simply do not understand. Apparently this confusion is carried over to everything else that is supposed to enlighten us.

I am grateful that an old friend texted me something picked up from Singapore News, which reads in part, “Everyone is advised to wear a mask because the new COVID-Omicron XBB variant coronavirus is different, deadly and not easily detected properly. Symptoms of the XBB virus are as follows:  No cough and no fever, only joint pain, headache, neck pain, upper back pain, pneumonia and general loss of appetite.”

Omigod! I panic. Loss of appetite! Could it mean he still has COVID? Or is it a result of the hospital’s installing an NGT — I don’t know what that means literally — to feed him whiIe there because he had no appetite? I demanded that they remove it because I know it’s painful to have a tube put up your nose to connect with your stomach.

I sleep beside my husband at night, my bed next to his hospital bed on his left side. But he sees better on his right. If he wakes up at night I pick up a pillow, sit on his right where he can see me. I drape my pillow over the bed, rest on it until he falls asleep. This gives me a neck pain. Because of the position or is it a symptom?

The article says: “XBB is five times more toxic than the Delta variant and has a higher mortality rate. It takes a shorter time for the condition to reach extreme severity and sometimes there are no obvious symptoms.”

“No obvious symptoms”? Has it become harder to find out if you have COVID or not?

The article continues: “This strain of the virus is not found in the nasopharyngeal region and it directly affects the lungs, the ‘windows’ for a relatively short period of time.” What is the nasopharyngeal region? I look it up on Google. It says, “The nasopharynx is the upper part of the pharynx (throat) behind the nose. The pharynx is a hollow tube about 5 inches long that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus (the tube that goes from the throat to the stomach).”  That must be also the NGT track. At least I can understand that, but when I typed “nasopharyngeal,” the first item on Google was “nasopharyngeal cancer,” and that made my heart jump. Why do all these words make me so panicky? Is it because we all just got COVID and are not sure we are over it? Even if we passed the antigen tests?

But the article goes on, “Nasal swab tests (antigen tests) are generally negative for COVID-Omicron XBB and false-negative cases of nasopharyngeal tests are increasing.” Okay! It means the antigen result may not be correct and instead of being well, maybe we are headed for pneumonia. I really don’t know.  All this is just showing me possibilities. It could be yes, you will definitely have pneumonia tomorrow and die the next day; or no, your antigen tests were valid. You may have doubts but you have to wait a few days. If you die, then you will know — you were right to doubt.

The article continues: “This means the virus can spread in the community and directly infect lungs leading to viral pneumonia, which in turn causes acute respiratory stress. XBB has become highly contagious, highly virulent and lethal. Avoid crowded places, keep a distance of 1.5 meters even in open spaces, wear a double-layer mask, wear a suitable mask, wash hands frequently even when everyone is asymptomatic (no coughing or sneezing).” This means that in spite of everything we’ve read about the pandemic ending, not needing to wear masks anymore, not worrying anymore about being sick, in spite of having a vaccine and booster of AstraZeneca, the truth is no one is safe.

We only have one thing to remember. Only God knows when it’s time for you to go. Everything is in His hands. Just be happy until He calls.

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