, October 26, 2021

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LOVEan


  •   8 min reads
LOVEan

By Mae Paner

"Takot sa akin ang COVID. Promise! Boom! On March 28, my RT-PCR test result revealed positive ako sa COVID. Toink!"

Volunteering as cook sa community kitchen of The Perpetual Help Kitchen in Baclaran  since April 2020, and continuing with KAWAPilipinas from August to present, naisip ko God would rather have me feeding the hungry so He will protect me from COVID. He did not! His plan is grander than my wish and my fears.

Bisyo na namin sa KAWA  to give food to the homeless, frontliners, locally stranded individuals, mga nasalanta ng sunog at bagyo, urban poor communities, at mga persons deprived of liberties. We call them our Beloveds! Basta may taong gutom na hirap o walang access sa pagkain sinusubok ng KAWAPilipinas volunteers to be present for them.

Around March 23, meron akong kakaibang pakiramdam sa katawan ko while in our kitchen. But, the task at hand in KAWAPilipinas is more important than my body ache. Wa charot! And ayoko namang ma-praning. We finished two days of kitchen work. And my body ache was erratic -parang merong dinaramdam na parang wala. Deadma! I even managed to go to the grocery and have a haircut with Gene, a friend and KAWA volunteer who stays with me in the House of Joy (the name I gave my home.)

Anyway, my sister Novie suggested I get tested because she sensed something was different with me. I was not my usual bright and bubbly self. I said, ‘Pwede naman!”

As soon as we found out positive ako, my doctor classmate called me and said, “Mae, I am sending you Ivermectin and Lianhua. Take Iver for five days straight, one capsule a day and Lianhua three times a day, four each time.” Karakaraka, the goods were in my tummy as soon as they arrived. Nilaklak ko agad ang mga droga. Also because my best friend called to ask if i wanted to try Ivermectin. That was enough for me to believe in Ivermectin! I know these two have my best interest at heart so trust I gave them - 100 per cent. Eh at that point my oxygen level was at 70. Aba, kinabahan din ako. Yun daw ang oxygen level nang ini-intubate! No way! Both my brother Paul  and his son Paolo got intubated before they passed on last year! No f*#@^*g way!

My stressed sister Novie kept calling hospitals meanwhile. Sa loob-loob ko ‘wag na ‘wag sana may available sa mga Makati Med o St. Lukes levels.  Kung gumaling ako problema ko ang pambayad! At kung  mamatay ako problema naman ng mga kapatid ko.  Paner ang apelyido ko. Hindi Zobel o Bezos o Gates! Buti na lang puro puno sila.

Then I was asked to go Chinese General Hospital. They were full but I was made to stay. Salamat, Lord! At pag may gustong tumabi sa silya next to mine while waiting, I just had to say, "COVID Positive po ako. Dumistansya po kayo!”

Then a nurse made me enter a lobby na ginawang COVID ward. Ang bilis! They did blood extraction,  X-ray, CT Scan, 2D Echo etc….Wow! Lord, ikaw yan, noh? Ang bilis. Feeling positive, I asked how long I needed to wait to get to a room, Actually kasi, stressed din ako habang hindi ako makahinga  sa mga nakabukakang seniors in diapers. Gusto ko silang kumutan. Tapos sumagot yung mabait na nurse sabi, “Pwedeng mga 5-6 days po kayong maghihintay dito.” Lord, bilis mo naman bumawi.

Then my sister handed me her phone where on the other end was my activist friend who  said, “There is a room at Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila. But you have to let me know now if you wish to be transferred. Automatic ang sagot ko,"Ok!” Then biglang I was talking to Yorme on the phone. Then a sosyal ambulance came to get me. Ang bumungad na dialog ng doktor na kumuha sa akin ay, “Fan po niyo ako, ma’am!” Gusto ko sanang mag small talk but my lungs did not allow me.

When I got to my room, alone, I panicked. My sister and friend Gene were not allowed to enter. No! I need my family to be with me Now! At nag-arya na akong parang baliw. Bakit ba ako biglang may kwarto? Dapat pumila ako! Ang haba ng pila sa baba.

Nalaman ba ni Yorme na lilipat ako sa Maynila? Alam niya bang Makati resident ako ngayon? I called my sister. Novie, ibigay mo sa akin ang number ni Mayor! Now na!!!  Inaway ko ang mga nurse. Ibalik niyo ako sa pila sa Chinese General Hospital. Ayoko ditooooo!

Then habang hirap na hirap akong huminga, may mobile phone na naka speaker na hinarap sa akin. Hindi si Mayor, doktor! Doktor ng Chinese General, “Ms. Paner, pumirma po kayo ng discharge against doctor’s advice kaya hindi na po kayo talaga pwedeng bumalik dito sa amin! Sorry po. Dyan na po kayo!”

Kinalma ko na ang sarili ko. Tinigilan ko nang manlaban. Accept. Behave.

Isang umaga I heard a woman wailing. Tinalo ako! I found out later that day she was screaming because her husband just died. Both of them were confined in two separate rooms. Umikot ang tiyan ko.  Parang nagbuhol-buhol ang mga intestines ko.

After several nights I had a dream. Kukunin na daw ang gubat. Ha? Sino nagmamay-ari ng gubat? Sino? Sumigaw ako dahil walang sumasagot. Sino nga? Then I checked my phone. My friend Butch Garcia’s post on FB simply said No! I checked other walls. Oh my God! Oh my God! Dear Jojo Atienza passed away. And I wailed in silence! Siya ang gubat na kinuha! Si Jojo! Ang isa sa pinakamabait na member ng PETA! Ang sakit sakit naman nito Lord! Grabe ka! Sobra naman!

Day one became day two, then day three...

I did my breathing exercise five to six times a day.  Inhale, hold for a few seconds, then release! Repeat five times. Then pag-release on the sixth, i-ubo! Repeat! Gagaling ako! Gagaling ako!

I slept with diapers put on by nurses. Ang arte ko pa nung una. Later, dahil walang available, girl, boy, bakla man, o tomboy wala na 'kong pili. Kung sino ang pumasok, yun ang magsusuot. Hindi ko talaga kasi kaya. Ang simpleng pagsusuot ng T-shirt parang pag-akyat ng limang palapag. Between my oxygen on sagad levels and sandamakmak na IV, wala akong lakas. Ang lahat ng powers ay para lang sa paghinga.

Isang umaga nagising akong naglalawa ang kama ko sa sarili kong ihi. Tumawag ako ng nurse. Kung pwede daw akong maghintay kasi marami ang emergency cases. Oo nga naman. Ako naihi lang. Ang mga inaasikaso agaw-buhay.  Sa sahig sa tabi ng kama ko lang nakayanang iitsa ang mga mapanghi kong hinubad na damit. Naaamoy ko! At least alam kong ok ang pang-amoy ko!

Hindi dumating ang almusal! Ok lang! Intermittent fasting ako today!

Ang day six naging day seven. Bumubuti ako sa bawat araw. Pababa ng pababa ang bola sa gauge ng oxygen. 98/88 ang reading ng oxymeter! 120/90 ang BP ko! 134 ang sugar! Lord, tengkyu! In the hospital I did not believe in miracles. I relied on them. Every little improvement is a miracle.

Sinikap  kong sagutin ang bawat mensahe sa akin. Malaking tulong para may koneksyon ako sa mundo. May galing sa madre, obispo, nanay na survivor ng EJK, mga tibak, mga kaibigan, mga kaklase, heneral, negosyante, matatalik kong kaibigan, mga hindi ko kakilala at pamilya. Ang isa ay ang mamang nagpasalamat dahil sinabi kong Covid positive ako at kung maaari ay dumistansya. Tatay pala niya ang kasama niya sa Chinese General Hospital. Na touch daw siya sa akin. Ipinagdasal niya ako at masayang gumagaling ako pero hindi daw pinalad tatay niya. Sinikap kong huwag umiyak kasi hihirap lalo ang  paghinga ko. At nahirapan nga akong lalo.

Laging may  nagpapa-alala ng konteksto at ng halaga ng puso. Maraming mga kaibigan ang nagsumikap na mahanapan ako ng ospital at ng kwarto. At ang pagsusumikap na yan ang resulta ng paggaling ko salamat din sa nga doktor, nurse at staff ng Sta. Ana Hospital. Amazing ang ayuda ng sisters ko sa akin. Dapat akong magpasalamat kay Yorme at lalo’t higit sa mga kaibigan kong aktibista na nagtulong-tulong para hindi muling kunin ang isa pang gubat. Taos-pusong pasasalamat sa inyo mga kapatid. Pinatatawad ko rin ang aking sarili sa aking pagiging praning at judgemental.

By the way, I lost 15 lbs. in nine days sa ospital salamat sa COVID! The virus gave me a gift. Pasaway me gets a jumpstart sa aking wellness journey.

By the way, here I am sharing my own experience. Hindi po ako nag e-endorse sa inyo ng mga gamot na ininom ko. And I mean no disrespect to my doctors. In fact I am deeply grateful to all who treated and cared for me sa Chinese General at Sta. Ana Hospital at Dr. Du thru Viber.

Ang science naman ay nag e-evolve at ang ating mga paniniwala at choices as we take action ukol dito ay personal na decision. Kahit sa isyu ng bakuna. Lalo na sa isyu ng bakuna. I would like to believe na at the end of the day we have to practice sovereignty over our decisions. After all, this is my own body. My own life at stake. Bow!

We will all die. I believe death is a gift. Because we go home to Him. Ang tanong: ready ka na bang kunin? Habang may buhay let us make the narrative of our lives bongga. Let us live with lots of kabuluhan. A life with purpose.

Pinusuan ko ang buong proseso ng aking pagkakasakit at pagbangon. Tumingala ako, kumapit at nagpasalamat sa Kaitaas-taasan! LOVEan Mae! LOVEan pa more! Nagtiwala ako sa aking sariling lakas.

Ngayon, nakabalik na ako sa kusina ng KAWAPilipinas. Nagluluto na at nagbibigay sa community pantries at iba pang Beloveds. Sabi ng isang nanay pag-abot ko ng food pack na may bola-bola with mushroom gravy at lettuce salad with thousand island dressing, “Biyaya po kayo sa amin ng langit. Salamat po!” Ang totoo, biyaya kami sa kanya at siya sa amin!

Patuloy ang buhay sa konteksto ng gutom, COVID at kahinaan ng ating pamahalaan. Pero laLOVEan tayo. At malalampasan natin ito sa pagtutulungan at pagkaka-isa. Yan ang tunay na diwa at espiritu ng Pilipino: pagmamahal sa kapwa.

Mabuhay ang Rebolusyon ng Pag-ibig!

This was first posted on Humans of Pinas


One morning last year, Mae Paner decided to feed the hungry, and she created Kawa Pilipinas. It is a program that lives on donations of the kind-hearted.


If you'd like to help feed the hungry, you can share to KAWA Pilipinas through any of the following:

  1. BDO Savings
    Clifford Jeith E. Nidea
    002470275462
  2. BPI Savings
    Clifford Jeith E. Nidea
    2669139961
  3. PayPal
    kawa.pilipinas@gmail.com
  4. GCash
    Clifford Jeith E. Nidea
    09175802008

If you have a terrific pandemic story, send it to ourbrewphil@gmail.com. Accompany it with the relevant photographs. If it pleases the editors, Our Brew will publish it.


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