Things are tough, and we’re exhausted.

For over a year now, I have been saying it’s inevitable that COVID-19 will come to our home. Well, it finally happened.

Over a week ago, Oneal’s Dad decided to go to the hospital because he had severe swelling in his legs, weakness in his left side, and difficulty eating and speaking. Oneal drove him to the hospital, where they were required to get swabbed for COVID-19 as a prerequisite to hospital admission. Their results came back less than 24 hours later: Dad was positive, and Oneal was negative.

Dad was admitted so that his other health issues could be addressed, and to check the severity of his infection. Some pneumonia was found in his lungs, but that was treated in the hospital. And because he improved quickly, he was allowed to continue quarantine at home.

While Dad and Oneal were in the hospital, Lucas and I were home alone. Because we wanted to protect Lucas, I wore a mask all the time and made sure we ate separately. I got tested at home as well, and we were so thankful that my result came back negative. Still, I kept my mask on and watched myself and Lucas for symptoms.

Saturday, September 25, was terrifying, because all of a sudden, Lucas felt weak and tired. He said he had a stomach ache, and a headache, and he had a low fever. He was crying in pain, and would call for me if I was away from him for too long. He could barely eat, and I was so scared. In my panic, I couldn’t find the paracetamol at home, and I frantically asked friends if anybody could send some over. I also ordered some from Grab, and Oneal sent some over, and we ended up with four bottles of paracetamol. Bless the nearby friends who sent meds and more.

After one waffle and a sponge bath, Lucas fell into a troubled sleep. He was restless, and he moaned and talked as he rolled in his sleep. I obsessively checked his temperature every few minutes, and only relented when it was consistently around 36.6.

By morning, he was fine, just a little sniffly, and I was beyond relieved.

On top of the distress and panic, I was exhausted, running all over the house while taking care of Lucas, sitting with him in school, and trying to work. At night I could barely keep my eyes open while reading him a story. He complained as I kept falling asleep while singing him his sleepy song. Begrudgingly he agreed to just go to sleep because I just couldn’t stay awake anymore.

In hospitals, people often forget that it’s hard to be a caregiver too. Nurses and doctors come in and out of the room at all hours, and you can’t get any sleep. Oneal had to make sure Dad ate properly, took care of the paperwork and the billing, and had to keep the whole family updated. He had to watch over Dad’s tests and medications.

We both felt so tired, and so lonely for each other’s support.

It was harder when Oneal and Dad came home from the hospital. I had to make sure everyone was fed, and often the food was cold by the time I sat down to my own meal. Dad and Oneal had to stay isolated, so I had to bring everything they needed to their rooms. Every delivery that came to the door, every bag of garbage that needed taking out, every piece of clothing that needed washing, I had to take care of. I fed the dog and the cats. I watered the plants. All this, while taking care of my son and trying to work. By the end of the day, I could feel pain in my knees, my legs numb from the exhaustion of running up and down the stairs multiple times a day.

The only thing I couldn’t do anymore was clean the house.

Bless everyone who sent food, so I didn’t have to cook much.

Last week we decided to get tested again. We were worried about being at home with a positive case, and Lucas was still sniffly. We scheduled RT-PCR swab tests for me and Oneal, and an antigen saliva test for Lucas. Lucas and I tested negative, but Oneal tested positive. It was to be expected, he said. He was in the hospital with Dad, in a small room with a confirmed positive case. At home, he was the one bringing meals and meds to Dad, so he had continued exposure.

To keep Lucas safe, I took him to my mother’s house in Antipolo. Soon after we arrived, and we had lunch, I collapsed into bed. I felt as if I had been running a marathon. My mother said I looked so worn out, and I certainly felt it. It was hard to eat, and all I could feel was exhaustion.

We’ve been here a few days, and though I still feel overwhelmed by everything that’s happened over the past few weeks, I’m grateful that I can take refuge with my family. I’m grateful to finally be able to rest and recover my strength. I’m grateful I can finally eat meals in peace and get a good night’s sleep.

Back at home, Oneal and his dad are in isolation until next week. I can only hope that they can rest and relax a little more, now that they don’t have to worry about infecting me or Lucas.

Amid all the struggles of the past weeks, we are so grateful to everyone who sent prayers, food, medicine, money, and messages. The world often seems bleak, but people are surprising, and they show love in various ways. It’s time like these that you remember what family truly means, what friendship truly looks like.

Things are tough, and we’re exhausted, but we’ll be okay.

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