1.5 hours after I was admitted, Dr. A beamingly walked into my ward and immediately brightened up the room with her warm and positive energy. Her calm demeanour and positivity instantly put me at ease.
“You are Violet right? Once I saw you from the outside, I recognised you. I remember reading about you in Straits Times. I was thinking to myself – Wah, so entrepreneurial! How are you feeling my dear?”
It was impossible to not feel uplifted by Dr. A! 😊
She soon explained to me step-by-step all that was going to happen in the coming days and weeks. The day that I first experienced the symptoms would be counted as Day 1. Further symptoms or complications might happen in the first week or even the second. She assured me that she and the medical team will be doing regular checks on me to monitor my health situation.
I asked her how long does this treatment normally lasts? She replied that it usually takes about 2-3 weeks for the “shedding” to be completed and to be tested negative.
As it was clear I was going to be here for quite a while, I naturally enquired around for the critical question… “Is there Wifi?”
And the good news is YES, there is Wifi through Wireless@SG which the reception is pretty good! I, therefore, was able to have work conference calls with my team and go through my emails and replying messages from friends and family. I even finished the last 2 episodes of Itaewon Class!
Upon check-in, I was also soon called by a NCID staff for preliminary contact tracing. She asked me about where I work, what I do, do I have travel history and went through with me on a day to day basis on where I have been, who I have met at what time, etc.
I shared that I have traveled to the US in early March for business. At that time, Singapore has not issued any travel restrictions as Asia was the pandemic epicentre while the numbers in the US were low. When I returned (changed my flight to come back earlier as the numbers in the US had escalated exponentially), I took an 18-hours direct flight on 12 Mar and returned back to Singapore on 13 Mar. The 14-days Stay Home Notice for any returnees was not issued yet then. However, I have decided to practice self-quarantine and have been mostly been staying in my room at home. Even though I live in the same house as my extended family members – I have only been in direct contact with my husband, children, and helper.
She asked if I have been back to my office. I shared that as per the advisory by the Government, our company has begun testing the split team arrangements in early Feb. I am part of the offsite team. Hence, from 17 Feb, I have not entered my office premises and have not had any contacts with my client-facing dating consultants.
As I have the habit of noting down everything in my calendar – be it personal or work appointments, I was able to easily provide her with clear details of my whereabouts.
Soon after, one of the nurses came in to perform a blood test, blood pressure test and heart-rate monitoring. She gave me a small round white device and taped it to my body. This is for monitoring my temperature regularly during my stay. Apparently, it can also track where I am in the hospital. (Wow!)
Meanwhile back at home, Jamie had arranged for the kids and him as well as my helper to get screened immediately. They were tested at NCID the next afternoon.
Due to my close proximity to Jamie, we both thought it was likely that he will be tested positive. At the same time, I was hopeful that perhaps, for the slightest chance he might get negative.
At midnight, Jamie messaged me, “Positive”.
It was quite surreal seeing him walk past me through my double-layered door ward. He did not see me as he was focused on following the nurse. I wanted to call out to him. But I know I can’t as we were separated by the double-layered doors. At that moment, I really fully experienced and understood what the phrase “so near yet so far” meant.
Based on the other patient’s sharing that I have read, couples are sometimes put in not just different wards but in different hospitals as well. I was readying myself to spend the two weeks just 2 wards away from my husband.
The next morning, I was overjoyed when I received a message from hubby that says, “They are trying to arrange for us to be in the same room!” We were certainly grateful and overjoyed to be happily reunited 2 hours later which we didn’t expect.
A routine began to set in everyday where we are screened for at least 3 times for our blood pressure as well as our heart rate. After our daily 3 meals, they would give us the medication that we are prescribed depending on our ailments. So for example, if you have a fever, you would be given paracetamol, if you have a cough, you would be given cough medicine, if you have a cold, you will be given cold medicine, etc.
Every time the healthcare workers entered our room, they would have to first go through the first layer of a door, put on their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and then go through the second layer of the door to where we are. And once they were done with whatever they need to do, they have to go through the second layer of the door, wash up and tediously remove all their PPE, and then walk through the first layer of door. I felt exhausted just watching them do this again and again while imagining that they have to continuously keep changing for all the different rooms that they enter.
Yet the level of care that we have received from all the healthcare workers in NCID has been beyond excellent. Despite all the hassle, we never detected any resentment or annoyance and were always greeted with a big wide smile.
A nurse that really stood out was Nurse Mavis. From the first day I met her, she exuded positivity and always has the sweetest smile on her face. From our conversations, I found out that she’s from Ipoh and she was inspired to be a nurse because of a senior from school. She has definitely chosen the right profession!
My blood test results had come back showing that I have a lower than average haemoglobin. The doctor arranged for a blood transfusion. Before blood transfusion, they did another blood test to do a blood type match. The blood transfusion took about 4 hours. To help me with increasing my haemoglobin level, I am put on iron pills.
The doctors visited us on a daily basis to check on us. Like a concerned mother, Dr. A would nag me about my constant working and not getting enough rest when she does her rounds. “Violet, you are working again! Imagine you have this level of energy at your low haemoglobin level. Can you imagine if you get your haemoglobin level to normal? You will be conquering the world! You better take your iron pills and go for the follow-up checkups that I am going to arrange for you once you are discharged! Ok?”
Hence I am amazed and grateful that this hospital stay is not just going to treat me of COVID-19 but also made me realise the danger of having such low haemoglobin level. Having a low haemoglobin level I have found out would make your heart work harder and potentially shorten your life span. This is probably one of the silver linings of this experience – to receive this wake-up call.
During one of Dr. A’s visits, she heard that one of Jamie’s lungs sounded a bit wheezy. She then amazingly arranged for this transformer-looking portable X-ray machine (you have to see it to believe it!) to be brought into the ward to have his X-ray taken. Thankfully, it came out all clear. His was a case of acid reflux and they gave him the appropriate medication to have it resolved.
Five days in a hospital room together proved to be an opportunity for “quality couple time” for Jamie and I. We spent the time to reflecting and talking on the circumstances that have brought us to this point and we both felt a shared sense of relief when both our kids, helper and nephew and niece were one by one tested negative. We felt guilty over the great inconvenience we have caused our household who had to be quarantined for 14 days due to us but we thank God that we have avoided contact with Jamie’s elders and siblings during our earlier self-quarantine.
Finally on day 6, we had the opportunity to be swabbed. (Yay!) Thankfully, Nurse Mavis was the one who did it. She is extremely experienced and swift and I hardly felt any discomfort this time. Dr. A told us that we are expected to probably still test positive based on their past cases.
If we tested positive, we will be moved to a recovering facility. If we tested negative, we will be tested again in 24 hours. And when you have 2 consecutive negative results, you will be discharged!
As we waited for the results, we were hopeful as our symptoms have been very mild to date but at the same time, we were realistic of the chances as well. Would it be negative or positive?