It’s now been exactly two weeks since the community quarantine in Manila was escalated to a stay at home lockdown across the isle of Luzon. Overnight, around 57 million people, were quarantined, complete with a curfew from 8PM to 5AM each day.
Being the introvert that I am, working mostly from home, I can not say that much in life has truly changed. With the exception of the curfew maybe, while I would often sneak out for a quick late snack from the 24/7 bakery/sari-sari store. Nowadays my watch - by which I of course mean my phone - has an alarm set to make sure that I get last needed essentials in time, in order to avoid a curfew violation arrest.
Beyond that, I would technically have to end my post here saying that not much in life has changed, except that it has.
Big time and probably in an unexpected way.
A Return to Normal Life
In some weird way of inverted experience, as the covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc upon us, upon our planet, for me it has meant a return to normal life, or at least an almost normal life.
Normal health actually.
Last year October I was struck down with heavy continuous fever and everything that came with it. Living in a country without guaranteed healthcare, and being stoic without any dependents or near family, I had accepted that the symptoms and suffering, mostly due to a constant “banging skull” could lead to any outcome. Living a simple life, in a crypto world which still hadn’t recovered funds were still zero.
My options were rather simple it felt at that time:
- Take life as it comes, c’est la vie
- Borrow money and get everything checked, looking forward to yet another batch of antibiotics and then a life with debts, and potentially also daily medication for a long time to come
Why was my outlook that dry?
Normally I am an optimistic person but always prepared for a negative outcome. Last few years have been harsh though and my body, my health, has taken some massive beatings too. In fact, shortly after I arrived here, at the age of 35, I had multiple TIAs (mini-strokes) over only few weeks time. I have also been treated for viral pneumonia, suffering another year from the damage the antibiotics had done to my digestive system.
Having enjoyed life and able to say there’s nothing I haven’t done I wanted to do, I was ready for another health fight, without medication this time.
May the strongest win.
The next two months I spent mostly on bed, sweating out my fever and fighting that banging skull. Nights were horrible, kidneys seemed to have found a new own life mostly interrupting those few moments I actually managed to sleep.
November and December passed. New Year passed too and I had completed “self-isolated” by then. Only very few people, less than I have fingers on one hand, knew about my struggle.
I didn’t do anything, nor managed much. Well, except for a “quick” daily run to the nearby grocery store and eatery. Both visits which would require me to afterwards sit against a wall nearby and rest for 30-40 minutes before I could proceed to the next level. An activity which otherwise would take me less than an hour, now usually took me 2.5hrs. Just to get some food in me and have some liquids and a quick snack for next day.
I was beaten, I was down, I was constantly fighting fever and that damn banging head. I limited my consumption of any medication and only on some days took a paracetamol when the head banging was too much. Concentration levels were zero.
Life was empty, a seemingly endless health battle.
January wasn’t much different, except that the year started with my embassy waking me three days in a row, calling me way too early every norning. Until I finally answered on the third day.
Yup, my parents were worried.
Of course, having made my choice in life, my choice of battle, I had cut off from them as well because I didn’t have the strength to explain them I was fine with any possible outcome.
Truth is, in those weeks and months, I considered my life to be very short, as short as maybe only few days to few years anymore. I’m only 44 now but I was fine with such outcome.
Now I had to explain that to my worried parents. My parents with whom until recently I didn’t have any contact with for more than two decades. Contact which only resumed again last time I was ill and hospitalized with pneumonia.
Swallowing a bitter pill, and some portions of humble pie, I managed to explain where I was at psychologically although I think my father never truly accepted it. Or even acknowledged my own mindset. And so January and half of February passed as well. With on most days the same routine and a continued battle. No change was noticeable and I didn’t feel any different from November or December.
I wasn’t winning.
Thirty to fourty minutes after getting up in the morning and having a coffee, I was usually exhausted enough again to need a rest, until it was snack and vitamins time. After which I would have a rest again and then stroll to the eatery and store. At latest eight I would be back in bed. Reading until the eyes crashed.
Until some day mid- or end-February, after having paid at the store, I hit the floor. Literally.
I felt myself fainting as I paid the cashier and next thing I remember was a cold tiled floor. Of course, I rejected every help and some sugary drink later I had enough energy again to stroll to my place.
And then... everything changed.
The coronavirus epidemic had picked up already and had become the main topic of the news. Some days after I hit the floor, I noticed that my concentration problems when reading started to dissipate. My banging head slowly started to become less of a nuisance and I even managed to sit longer at the desk than I did before.
But I wasn’t taking anything for granted nor started to think positively about any progress yet. Fever was still a constant and my head definitely wasn’t what it once was. Neither were my energy levels.
The World’s Quarantine Life
March turned all expectations and I continued to progress. Almost miraculously.
While an epidemic had been escalated to pandemic level, now having reached 180 countries on our planet already, my recovery has continued. I even had enough energy to escape to the a smaller city when the national government announced the community quarantine. Few days later, the main Philippine isle was locked down.
Today, April 1, after more than 5 months of health struggles I dare say I am back at 70-75% of my normal levels.
I can not say that my brain is the old multitasker it used to be again, but that banging skull seems to be gone and is now replaced by the odd migraine flash. The fever, while still present on many a day, is mostly minimal and only few hours a day only.
I struggle with moments of low blood pressure but that’s something entirely manageable.
Yet, the quarantine has affected me like everyone else too. As a regular external consultant to local internet startups, rebooting the professional life after several months of inactivity has become more difficult. Most companies I would otherwise work with are now in remote staffing mode only, often also with many less active employees. A career reboot right now seems rather impossible.
Since hitting the floor at the store, I haven’t seen any supermarket beyond the typical convenience store, AKA sari-sari store. I wouldn’t know about the actual state of the stores’ shelves as I haven’t ventured anywhere yet. My movement has been limited due to still low levels of energy. But daily seemingly increasing levels.
More importantly though, it seems everyone here in the nearby community is healthy and managing rather well with the quarantine. Yes, the neighbor’s kids have reached a level of crankiness being limited to staying indoors or spending some play time just outside their door.
As everyone is doing their best to stay healthy, escape that virus, for me... the quarantine has meant a return to a normal life. Well, sort of normal life.
Oh... I lost around 80% of my hair during November and December. I could now manage to grow a “skullet”.
But that isn’t going to prevent me from tackling the next few years of life. While I may have lived a life I call complete, there’s still things I haven’t done yet on my checklist. ;)
Stay safe, stay healthy... and wear that damn face mask!