This first appeared as a post on Facebook last Sept. 26

I never thought I’d sing paeans to the Sinovac vaccine, but I do so now. Grudgingly, that is, as I still consider it a third-rate vaccine. Be that as it may, doctors at the De La Salle University Medical Center in Dasmariñas, Cavite, told me it was the fact I was fully vaccinated that saved me from the intensive care unit (meaning having to be hooked up to a mechanical ventilator) while they treated me for severe COVID-19 for about a week until my discharge.

My wife Cynthia and I both contracted COVID early in September, she doing so first, a few days before I started coughing. We both tested positive on Sept. 9, but somehow she seemed to recover quickly. Neither of us lost our sense of smell or taste. Neither did we lose our appetite for food.

There were a few more tests – blood extractions and X-rays — the results of which were assessed online by a battery of doctors from our preferred hospital – University of Santo Tomas Hospital. My oxygen saturation level was going down, which required oxygen support, and the X-rays showed I had severe pneumonia in both lungs. There was blood in my sputum. I was too weak to sit even for just a few minutes at my computer to check e-mail or Facebook. But apart from that, I felt fine and was in good spirits.

The doctors were unanimous that I needed to be hospitalized. The question was, where? UST was full and was not admitting any more patients. So was Premier, the hospital closest to our home in Las Piñas. Luckily, the De La Salle University Medical Center, where our eldest daughter Kathrina and her husband Ramon Ramos are practicing consultants, had some space in the Emergency Room, but they were told I’d have to wait in line for a regular hospital room to become available. Like most other hospitals, DLSUMC was also short of staff due to deaths, resignations and illness. But at least, once in the ER, my treatment could begin.

To cut a long story, an ambulance took me to DLSUMC around noon on Sept. 14 and I was quickly given a bed at the ER. Before midnight, I was moved to a private room on the 6th floor. I had worked up an appetite and had dinner around 1 a.m.

My medication began that same night. It consisted of antibiotics whose names I don’t recall, steroids and Remdesivir, a retroviral drug approved by the US FDA for treatment of Covid-19. I responded well to the treatment. The steroids even took away the pain in both of my arthritic pinkies. The Remdesivir regimen would be administered to me in intravenous doses spread out over five days. In addition, I was given insulin shots to stabilize my blood sugar, which had gone through the roof. Apart from my other maintenance medicines, I was given vitamins galore.

I had daily chats with my entire family via video calls, and finished reading two novels during the time I spent in hospital. I had absolutely no sense of time whatsoever. The television in my room was too small and was positioned so far from me to be of much use. This turned out to be a blessing because it kept me blissfully ignorant of what Duterte and his ilk were doing.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who sent prayers and best wishes for my full recovery. Most of all, I’d like to convey my deepest gratitude to my doctors at DLSUMC: Dr. Gary Carlos, pulmonologist, my main attending physician; Dr. Nicole Alabado, infectious disease specialist; Dr. Dave Pagsisihan, endocrinologist; Dr. Sheena Diloy, nephrologist; Dr. Vilmor Tusing, emergency medicine consultant; and Dr. Martin Luna, emergency medicine consultant. I wouldn’t recognize them all if I saw them again. Some of them came to my room in full PPE. A few spoke to me only via intercom. But I felt their impact on my recovery. My dear doctors, I am eternally grateful to all of you. And to the nameless nurses who gave me my medicines, took blood samples and gave me my food, I say, thank you and God bless you. They all worked 12 hour shifts. What brave and kind people you are!

I do have to mention my wife and children whose support for me never waned, especially Kathrina and Monty, who came to visit every day despite the risks they exposed themselves to in doing so.

But there is one group I think that deserves special thanks – the dietary and kitchen staff of the hospital. I enjoyed every meal and finished every morsel they served. I don’t recall having the same meal repeated during my weeklong stay. Every meal was something I looked forward to. Come of think of it, what I got was the diabetic diet, and I thought it was excellent.

In parting, let me offer this piece of unsolicited advice to anybody who has not been vaccinated yet. Go grab the first opportunity to be vaccinated. Take whatever it is that comes first. It might very well save your life the way Sinovac might have saved mine.

On the day I was discharged, I learned that a supervising DLSUMC nurse died of COVID during the night on the same floor where I was hospitalized. She was my eldest daughter’s age. She had failed to get vaccinated the first time she was scheduled for a jab as she had developed a fever. She was rescheduled for vaccination, unfortunately COVID got to her first.

My hospitalization would have cost us a few hundred thousand pesos, but luckily PhilHealth shouldered all the expenses. Our tax pesos at work!!!


Miguel C. Suarez


Miguel C. Suarez's professional career spans more than 50 years in journalism and public relations. In his last semester in college, he sought and found work at Agence France-Presse. He was eventually invited to join The Associated Press where he rose to become news editor at its Manila bureau. He was also a desk editor at the Philippine daily Inquirer for nearly 10 years until 2015. He pioneered the practice of Investor Relations in the Philippines while working for San Miguel Corp. He also taught journalism, communication and public relations at Lyceum of the Philippine University.

What is your reaction?

In Love
Not Sure

You may also like

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *