Another COVID-19 patient tells story of survival
MANILA, Philippines — When he experienced a fever of 37.8 degrees Celsius, Rogelio Bueno Jr. decided to just sleep it off. But when he woke up the next day, his fever was up at 38.8 degrees.
Bueno was in denial when he first experienced these symptoms. It wasn’t long until Bueno realized he had been infected by the dreaded disease, and would later become COVID-19 patient number 358.
“I contracted COVID-19, and this is my story,” he shared in his now-viral Facebook post.
Hi, I'm Rogelio Bueno Jr. and I am patient 358. As you already know from Joanna, my wife's post, I contracted COVID-19…
What went before
Bueno was in his condominium with his wife, Joanna, when he had a low-grade fever, which he shook off with the help of paracetamol.
The next day, he decided to get some kimchi. “I haven’t had dinner yet and I want something spicy because it seems that I lost my sense of taste.”
The next day, his fever was worse, along with some other maladies such as difficulty in breathing, which he dismissed as just an effect of his wearing a face mask.
“Joanna was telling me, ‘Baka COVID na yan (Maybe it’s COVID-19),'” he said, quoting his wife. But his response has always been that the virus would be no match for him. “’Malakas katawan ko and ang taba ko, di ako tatablan n’yan (I am strong, and I’m big. The virus would not affect me)’ was my response,” he said.
After much prodding, he finally relented to go to the hospital. The emergency room was “packed.” After all, more and more cases were then getting confirmed as COVID-positive.
Following blood tests and urinalysis, Bueno was sent home, with the diagnosis being “Systemic Viral Illness.”
“When we got home, I went directly to our 3rd floor for isolation because I didn’t want my family to catch my sickness. I didn’t even get to see them and got mad with our youngest because she went up to see me,” Bueno said.
During isolation, Bueno’s situation became unstable—some days it was better, some days it was worse.
“The next day, I was feeling better. I was very hungry and I thought I was getting better. But that night, difficulty of breathing returned and it worsened. My mom decided to have me tested for blood works at a hospital,” Bueno said.
“My C-reactive protein (inflammatory marker) was more than 10 times the normal value,” he added.
Bueno was brought back to the emergency room when his situation was not getting better.. He could barely speak and could only give one-word answers as he was feeling breathless.
“It felt like I was drowning and was gasping for air even though I had oxygen via nasal cannula. My conditions made matter worse, I am asthmatic, diabetic and hypertensive. My blood sugar was twice the normal and blood pressure went as high as 150/90,” Bueno said. He was again brought to the hospital, this time in Las Piñas.
There, he was tested for COVID-19—which he described as rather “very painful.”
“That was the last time I saw mom,” Bueno said, adding that his mother and some loved ones had to be under quarantine due to exposure from him.
War inside the head
Like the story of many other COVID-19 patients, the physical toll of the disease is not the only thing that attacks the patient. Bueno’s mind began to speak.
“That night, I was very scared, thoughts were running in my mind, ‘Ambata pa ni Joanna para maging widow, mamamatay ako na di ko man lang na-enjoy buhay ko, sana may baby kame para at least my remembrance,’” Bueno said.
His wife was crying and Bueno was starting to lose hope.
“I was already giving up and was preparing myself for the worse, my wife was crying but she kept saying, ‘Laban, kaya mo yan!’ She told me to pray together and just concentrate on getting better, telling me to repeat, ‘Gagaling ako, may purpose pa ako,’” Bueno said.
Hardships and road to recovery
While waiting for his COVID-19 results, the first few days at the hospital was “very hard” for Bueno. The difficulty in breathing was still there while feeling hot due to the medications.
Bueno said he could not sleep because he was breathless. He could not go to the comfort room either because taking small steps was such a chore.
“I had to wake up Joanna to get the urinal or get me water at 2-3 am because that was when I felt the hottest. Blood sugar was taken four times a day, wherein I was given insulin if the value is above 140 before meals and 110 at night,” Bueno said.
It was in his fourth day in the hospital that the first signs of improvement showed. His fever improved but was still feeling breathless.
“Aside from the occasional difficulty of breathing and diarrhea (because of the meds), I was feeling better and positive. Negative thoughts were gone from my mind and I spent the the day praying, thanking God, asking protection for Joanna, promising to be a better person,” Bueno said.
But on his sixth day at the hospital, the test results were out and he was indeed positive for COVID-19.
His chest x-ray also showed that he had progressing pneumonia but Bueno said he was starting to feel better.
“I was still having difficulty of breathing but I could hold my breath for 3-5 seconds during my breathing exercises,” Bueno said.
It was another series of waiting game for Bueno when he had to be tested for COVID-19 once again on his eight day at the hospital. He had to wait for four days.
On Day 11, Bueno said he was starting to feel 70 to 75 percent better that he can even go to the comfort room by himself. He was also finally able to take a bath after ten long days.
“Day 12, result of Covid test came back negative. I could now remove nasal cannula for 3-5 hrs without difficulty of breathing. Day 13, I could now last a day without oxygen,” Bueno recalled.
Exactly two weeks since he was confined in the hospital, on Day 14, Bueno said he received “the greatest news”: He was asymptomatic and was ready for discharge.
He went home the following day.
Not over, but start of something new
While wanting to be with his family, Bueno knew his responsibility. He still had to isolate himself and limit interactions with others.
“Upon arriving home, we left our slippers outside, took another bath, changed clothes. I did not even get to say hi to my family to limit exposure,” Bueno said.
Bueno said he was thankful for having survived the disease and thanked the people who helped him—his loved ones, friends, doctors, and the frontliners who were there to assist him.
“Now, Im just happy to be alive. I will take this opportunity to cherish my family and loved ones more, to be a better person and to live life to the fullest,” Bueno said.
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