On Aug. 10, I and our elder daughter got unwell. No fever but body pains. The next day, the symptoms continued, I began to suspect COVID symptoms and I traced back where the virus may have come from.
On Aug. 8 I went to the public market in Makati to buy food. I have been doing this for the past 17 months, so it is possible but not strong plausible reason.
On Aug. 10 and the previous days, I did my usual routine for the last 17 months — get direct sunlight for a minimum of 10 minutes, a maximum of 25 minutes, a day, the sun directly hitting my skin and head. Plus walk our dog two kilometers a day on average except when it is raining and stormy. It is possible that I got the virus while doing the usual daily round.
On Aug. 6, my wife got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. My doctor friend at the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC PH) and former Department of Health Undersecretary Dr. Jade del Mundo briefly explained viral shedding to me:
“Viral shedding is the release of a virus after a viral infection, such as SARS-CoV-2. People shed the virus through the respiratory secretions when they sneeze, talk or even while socializing… The Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA vaccine which contains the genetic material to code for the spike protein. The problem is these spike proteins produced are shed or spread through the saliva or sputum or the air breathed out by a person so it causes those near the vaccinated person to be infected.”
It is possible or not possible that such viral shedding happened in our house. My wife has a comorbidity, she has hypertension. Nonetheless, all of us later had symptoms, mild to moderate. The two girls have had short bouts of fever and they were gone after a day or two.
I am the most senior in the house — I am 58 years old already — and have experienced many symptoms. No fever, but I have shortness of breath every time I go down to pee and come back to the room, body pains, cough with phlegm. My appetite is not good — I have to force myself to finish my meal within one to one and half hours. It has been psychologically stressful, physically painful.
The Makati City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) came to our house on Aug. 15, and took swab tests from my wife and our two daughters. The results came out on Aug. 18 — all three of them were positive. Stress in the house worsened because I was not swabbed, not vaccinated, and must isolate alone in the room upstairs. What about our food? Supplements? (I was swabbed by CESU about three days ago and am waiting for the results. I just assume that I was positive as of swab day, Aug 20.)
TEARS OF HUMILITY
The answer came much sooner than my worries. First to send food was my sister Marycris who also lives in Makati. Then my kumare, Jo Ferrer-Fernandez, who also brought along her sister, pediatrician Dr. Marriel Ferrer de la Reyna, to give medical advice for the two girls.
Then the big surprise. My friends from UP Sapul — they devised among themselves who will take care of our daily meals, lunch to dinner, for at least one week. Lots of food was coming in, more than what we could finish. Super super thanks to UP Sapul friends Boye Quiambao, Kris Cabrera, Grace Mendoza, Da Alejandrino-Short, Winnie Alvarez, Mel Manalaysay, Jopay Payongayong, Percy and Abet Abesamis, Jim Asuncion, Norman Roxas, Ernie Urbano, Kiko Magno.
I have non-biological siblings here in Manila, the Millora family. My elder sister, Dr. Ma. Judea Millora, is my main physician, plus Dr. Homer Lim, new President of the CDC PH. My younger brother, Dr. Vvon Millora, co-owns some private hospitals in Cavite and was worried and offered to take me in despite the long queue of COVID patients should I really need to be confined.
Then there are support advice from other CDC PH doctors and friends like Dr. Iggy Agbayani, lots of medicines and supplements from Gigi Bautista and Eli Abela, lots of Vit. C, D, Azithromycin, zinc, aspirin, Ant Tart (antimonium tartaricum — used in homeopathy ), etc.
I have been in tears — big solid tears of humility and gratitude — as I look at all the support that I have received for my family and friends. Then I have friends, former UP Narra dormmates, waiting to help anytime I sound the alarm.
MY MEDICINES AND SUPPLEMENTS
Dr. Homer Lim gave me these prescriptions: ivermectin, 15 mg/tablet, 2x a day; doxyclycline, 100 mg/tablet, 2x a day; Vit. C with zinc; Vit. D3, 5,000 iu; melatonin, 3mg/tab, 2 tablets at bed time; Aspirin, 100 mg/tab; budesonide, 160 mcg (Symbicort Turbohaler).
Dr. Ma. Judea Millora sent me a hydrogen peroxide nebulizer that she herself mixed with guidance from Dr. Lim. I felt better after each nebulizer session. Ate Dea also sent me a sure-fire medicine vs. possible lung scarring, serrapeptase, to be taken on empty stomach once a day.
The reason why it took me long to recover is because I did not follow the treatment on the dot. Meaning, the medicines that I should take at 7 a.m. should be taken at 7 a.m., not 9 a.m. or 12 noon. Or medicines that I should take twice a day I must take twice a day and not once or thrice because I forgot to keep track.
That is why proper professional medical advice is necessary for the patients even if the medicines and supplements are available.
APPEAL TO DOH AND THE PRESIDENT
I will say that the ivermectin plus the various medicines and immune boosters did help a lot in allowing me to survive without the need for hospitalization. As of this writing, Aug. 23, the body pains have significantly eased, I have only a mild cough today, no more shortness of breathing, the oxymeter stable at 95-96, I can now finish one big plate of food at a meal. But Doc Iggy Agbayani still cautions me to avoid sweet drinks and food, even bananas.
My appeal to the Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III and President Rodrigo R. Duterte, is to really consider the use of ivermectin as an early treatment for patients trying to recover at home. The vaccines sure can help as they are also products of endless medical innovation and science. But an old, proven for 40 years, medicine like ivermectin has big potential as an early treatment and a way to avoid the hospitalization of so many patients. Think of the hundreds of new serious and critical COVID cases that are brought in hospitals that could have been treated at home instead.
Finally, more vaccination and more cases.
I make a short follow up of my previous column, https://www.bworldonline.com/more-vaccination-more-cases-why/, from July 19, and https://www.bworldonline.com/vaccination-rates-and-kkk-on-june-12/, from June 7.
Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the Director for Communication and Corporate Affairs, Alas Oplas & Co. CPAs