Post-COVID trauma is real but ‘beatable’

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  • Our alert level in Metro Manila has significantly dropped to No. 2, so life is beginning to look and feel more normal.

    But to COVID survivors, life post-infection is still a delicate balance between joy and fear. The Omicron variant descended on us and many fully-vaccinated families had to be in isolation again, even if the Omicron proved kinder and easier to manage. That was the experience of my family.

    But for those who had the real deadly virus in its early stages of devastation here, like media couple Ed and Cynthia Santiago, the near-death experience was terrifying.

    The couple got infected in spite of meticulously observing safety protocols.

    “My family and I followed them to the letter—wearing face masks and face shields, observing physical distancing, staying home. If ever we had to go out for some urgent errands, washing hands, even taking a bath, disinfecting our things, spraying alcohol on bags, Lysol on our footwear. And yes, we made sure we were vaccinated,” recounts Cynthia whom we call Chay.

    Still, they got COVID. This is the first lesson: “Yes,” Chay says now, “Let’s follow the protocols, but no matter what we do, chances are we will still be infected. Why? I can only surrender to the reasons offered by some co-victims— like, I suffered because I can then write about the ill effects of the disease and thus convince people to follow protection protocols. If I can convince even just one person, I guess our suffering would have significant meaning.”

    Thanks to medical science, there are more reliable treatments now for COVID. During the Santiagos’ ordeal, there were not so many.

    “This is the way we survived: the love of family and friends who stormed Heaven for our healing, and God’s Grace, His merciful answer to those petitions. We are healed, I really claim we are. But there are COVID post-effects we have to live with at the moment—shortness of breath, fatigue, anxieties, and depression,” intimates Chay.

    Here are the other “dos” of post-COVID infection, Chay stresses: “Please exercise. COVID attacked our lungs. With weaker lungs, we could not breathe properly. When we don’t breathe the way we should, we get short of oxygen. Our blood doesn’t flow the way it should. So, with irregular blood flow, other organs and the entire body don’t function the way they functioned pre-COVID. So walk daily.”

    Chay knows it’s not that simple. “If you feel fatigued and have to stay in bed, move your arms up and down, close and open your hands,” she suggests. “Also, move your legs up and down, move feet in circles. Our doctor also  gave us a toy bubble maker— you know, liquid soap in a bottle with a straw you dip into the soap, and then blow to make bubbles— and blowing makes you inhale and exhale. Have a balanced diet of fish, veggies, meat, fruits.”

    Something to remember, notes Chay, is to avoid food that can cause either constipation or diarrhea.  “Even eating can make you feel tired. So, eat slowly, chew food well. Stop when you feel tired. Just go back and eat when you get hungry again and make sure to eat just right. And have plenty of sunshine.” 

    Other tips from the couple: “Stay positive.” The COVID trauma will be haunting you now and then. So, overcome the trauma by choosing to be happy. Avoid sad movies, especially those about sickness and death. Choose happily-after films, fun game programs, cartoons even. And keep the faith!

    “The virus, the illness does not come from God—because God is good and only good things come from Him,” says Chay. “The bad ones come from His Enemy whose mission is to make God’s people suffer so they will lose faith in God. Have a personal, steadfast relationship with God. He is the God of Victory!” (Reprinted from Manila Bulletin)

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