My COVID-19 experience: First Filipino COVID-19 patient shares battle with virus

Aileen Cerrudo

At first, it was low-grade fever, then muscle pains, and a bad cough. Those were the symptoms Carlo Llanes Navarro experienced seven days after his family came home from Japan on February 25.

“I decided to play it safe and that I be immediately tested. St. Luke’s hospital did not see the need to test me. The hospital said my symptoms were mild, and Japan is not a COVID-19 hotspot,” he said

“I insisted. I had to insist! I was tested. I was discharged,” he added.

It was on March 5 when Navarro heard the news from the Department of Health (DOH) — he was COVID-19 positive.

“I was promptly whisked away by an ambulance to RITM [Research Institute for Tropical Medicine] in Alabang,” he said.

While in the RITM, Navarro prayed that his wife and daughter be spared from the virus. Both their tests came back negative, he recalled.

As days turned into weeks, Navarro had to face the difficulty of fighting the virus while keeping his spirits up.

“For two weeks in the hospital, it was not the physical pain that is frightening! It was the psychological effect that made it difficult,” he said.

His family had a difficult time finding a hospital that will take him in. It took a while before a hospital agreed to take him in and he was removed from the RITM.

“I was coughing profusely, and chills were getting worse by the day,” Navarro recalled.

But he learned a few lessons during his experience as a COVID-19 patient. He was grateful for having the presence of mind to isolate himself from his family which kept them safe.

“I learned about the extraordinary love of my wife and daughter,” he said.

He also learned about the importance of getting tested immediately. He was happy about his decision to get tested as soon as he developed mild symptoms. Navarro was able to shield his family.

“When people are NOT tested, they can walk around and socialize thinking they just have a cold or slight malaise,” he said.

On day 15, Navarro was discharged from the hospital with no symptoms.

“Today, I am thankful for the prayers and well wishes of friends and family! I may not have responded to you at my darkest hours, but I will remember and will be forever grateful for you,” he said. — AAC

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