A doctor’s encounter with COVID-19

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“Dr. Causin said ‘Lockdowns can be eerily disturbing. Everything looked bleak. I was bereft. The pandemic took away from me my beloved. Worse, it robbed me of the opportune time to mourn over my loss.’”

​Contracting and testing positive for COVID-19 is, in itself, alarming. Losing a loved one due to COVID-19 is very heartbreaking.

​For medical doctor Delilah Ignacio Causin, a radiologist by specialization, having a loved one die in your arms is utterly devastating. Moreover, by some twist of fate, God took her love, Henry Ambas – himself a medical doctor and her business partner – on her birthday, March 28, the 12th day of lockdown in Metro Manila.

Dr. Causin was my classmate during high school days in Cagayan de Oro City.

​“I was appalled and mystified, confused and deeply saddened,” she gushed. The turn of events was fast. Four days earlier, a day after his regular dialysis, Doc Henry was running a moderately high grade fever. The next day, he had severe diarrhea, but was adamantly not going to the hospital as yet.

Dr. Delilah Causin, at left, with her clinic staff in full PPE gear, right photo

​As Dr. Causin related: “I ministered to him medically what I could where he needed it most.” His cousin and nurse, Beth Carlos, assisted her, but since they were wearing only face masks and gloves, they very well knew they were not protected enough and ran the risk of contracting whatever pathogen, virus – COVID or not – from him.

​On the fifth day of Doc Henry’s fever, March 28, his condition deteriorated. They had brought him to the hospital, but the hospital refused to admit him, claiming they had no available room for a PUI (person under investigation for COVID). Having no other recourse, they took him home; but, while waiting for an ambulance that would take him to other hospitals, at 4 p.m., he started having difficulty of breathing and at 5 p.m., he went into cardio-respiratory arrest. She performed CPR on him, but at 6 p.m., Doc Henry was pronounced dead.

​After 24 hours, his remains were cremated. According to Dr. Causin, nobody from the DOH came to do post-mortem swab test on Doc Henry who may have contracted the virus from one of his patients on his last day of clinic on March 17.

​On March 29, Dr. Causin started her enforced self-quarantine. On the fifth day, April 2, she had body malaise, fatigue, and low-grade fever. She went to the Quirino Memorial Medical Center for her swab test free of charge. On April 4, she had diarrhea, but routine lab exams and chest X-ray results were all normal.

​On April 6, she got the result of her swab test – positive. This bolstered the suspicion that Doc Henry contracted the virus and died of CoViD. In the days that followed, she started to lose her appetite, sense of smell, taste, and had a peculiar disdain for food.

​“I was not one to be cowed by the stigma attached to CoViD-19, let alone be beaten by an unseen foe. My resolve to beat it was even stronger. I spent every waking moment fervently praying the Holy Rosary and my favorite novenas,” recalled Dr. Causin.

​The days that followed were the most difficult for her until in the early morning of April 13, she informed her sister, Sarah that she was going to the hospital after having palpitations and tachycardia the previous day. Needless to say, being in isolation and alone in the hospital afforded Dr. Causin to think intently how rudimentary and minute people’s actual understanding of the virus, its treatment and prognosis.

​After a series of ECGs and laboratory exams, on her sixth hospital day, she was discharged and advised to continue home quarantine for another 14 days. After four positive swab tests, on June 9, her fifth swab test finally came back negative. Her quarantine was extended until June 23.

​By God’s grace, and after having tested negative for certain antibodies on rapid test, six months after her first positive swab test, Dr. Causin is back to seeing patients in her diagnostic clinic in Quezon City following strict health protocols.

​Looking back at the events that transpired in the last eight months, in retrospect, Dr. Causin expressed: “Lockdowns can be eerily disturbing. Everything looked bleak. I was bereft. The pandemic took away from me my beloved. Worse, it robbed me of the opportune time to mourn over my loss.” – NWI

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