How are you now?
By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
Kumusta na? I hope this article finds you well. It is more than eight months since we were locked down by covid- here in the Philippines, we started lock down mid March. We thought it would last for two weeks or a month at most. But then, we were bombarded with a bit by bit blow on the number of people being stricken by covid and dying. It was scary, especially for those who kept their eyes glued on their cellphone all day long for the latest counts on covid. It was as if getting infected with covid was a death sentence. There were many posts on social media about covid patients suffering – complete with videos of patients having difficulty breathing. Geez, it was like some sci fi thriller- with fear building up until you feel your heart would burst. In the movies, the hero would appear and the enemy would be overcome. But that’s just a two-hour movie and you know it’s all in the mind. If you prolong that anxiety, you would have a heart attack. How about this covid fear? One month has extended to eight months and there’s no flattening of the fear. How are people coping?
After about a week of lockdown in March, I stopped listening to covid news. The reports were just building up fear in people- we all know how reports highlight the bad and ugly and blow them out of proportions. The news didn’t report that more sick people were recovering from covid than dying. Did you see the statistics? Less than 1% die from covid. Did media highlight this good news? No. It didn’t do anything to assure people that we can actually get well, naturally. The science behind this natural recovery is the fact that covid is a virus. Viruses just go away by themselves. That is just how God made them, thank you, God! But media just kept feeding and spiking our fear.
We were told to stay home so that we will not be exposed, use masks, wash hands, social distancing. So what will we do at home? This was no problem with me as I just retired and I had grandchildren to keep me occupied. I also went into container gardening as many others did. Seeing the plants sprout then grow lifts our spirit. Seeing how plants thrive with so little soil or water makes one reflect that we could also do with less. Seeing the plants heal on their own after being bruised or cut would also reassure me that we, humans, could also overcome this covid virus. Mind you, I didn’t apply alcohol to their injuries or water them with antibiotics and yet they got well. I guess many adults coped well with strict lockdown by turning into plantitas and plantitos. Luckier are those in the rural areas who have paddies and farms to work on. I hope this lockdown taught farmers to go organic, go healthy.
With lockdown, I also rediscovered Korean drama and fell in love with those gorgeous Korean actors. With free sites, I could binge watch up to the wee hours of the morning and aside from being entertained, I learned about keeping healthy by eating right. I spent more time on Facebook, too. Thus these past eight months seemed like a breeze. But then I had internet. Not all people have internet connection. On the other hand, binge watching K drama and bingeing on Facebook are not healthy because this means I just sit for long periods of time! What more, because we had more time in our hands, we turned to cooking and of course, eating. Since we were told to just stay home and nobody visits anybody, what we cooked we ate. I always boasted that I can eat a lot without adding weight but with lockdown, I gained weight! I know a lot of friends who gained weight and are still gaining. Obesity is a risk factor for disease. Double jeopardy. No, it’s multiple jeopardy. Why? Because there is fear and anxiety- it constricts your blood vessels, and if prolonged like it is now, it will lower your strength and immune system.
Even with strict lockdown here in Baguio, Sundays was designated as seniors day- only seniors were allowed outside and the rest stay home. And as the days went on, restrictions were eased and young people and children can now go out but now we are locked down again. Living for months with covid has somehow eased the fear, though, because we don’t see people dying from covid as the media reported it. The deaths during this period of people that we know were not from covid but from hypertension, cancer or other chronic illnesses. However, government seems to think otherwise.
I shared my lockdown life- a senior retired from government. How about you, dear reader? How about our young people and young adults? Children and youth need open space and a very active life, not only for their bones and muscles but for their sanity and future well-being, as well. They have been locked in for an unhealthy period of time. They sit down whole day for their online classes and everybody gets stressed – them, their parents, teachers. Not only are their parents stressed from tutoring their children, they are also stressed about where to get the next meal. Ok for us having pension. Ok for those working in government because even when there was no work because of lockdown, they got their salaries whole. Even if they don’t have clients because people are told to stay home, they get their salaries whole. How about those in other situations where their businesses or their source of livelihood have been severely affected by lockdown. One observant woman said “Lockdowns are the biggest transfer of wealth from small businesses to multinational corporations in world history.” (Dr. Simone Gold). With lockdown, our local vegetable producers were not able to transport their products to Baguio or Manila so they gave these free or left them to rot. Many small businesses closed shop as there were no more students or tourists. Even the buying capacity of residents dropped because of no work. Not knowing where your food the next day will come from could make one depressed. Is government, which is supposed to safeguard the health of the people, addressing these concerns?
To add insult to injury, goods from Manila like junk food, canned goods, frozen foods and all those unhealthy processed factory foods travelled and still travel freely anywhere. Just get food pass. So instead of eating healthy to strengthen our immune system to prevent covid, we stuffed and are stuffing ourselves with unhealthy food and in excess, too. Lockdown has made us more at risk for covid… and high blood, high sugar, other more deadly conditions. So who gained from lockdown? Lockdown was supposed to flatten the curve. We see that it is not doing so. I am actually angry. So please, can government now reflect and redirect its efforts to instead “flatten the fear.” I believe that reassuring people that our bodies can overcome covid and instituting measures to encourage people to live actively and well and supporting local and small-scale businesses, are what we badly need now. Don’t you think so? We can live with covid. With that prayer is also a prayer that you, dear readers, are coping well.***
“Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10