‘This virus did not care’: Fil-Ams share their coronavirus ordeal

The coronavirus that has caused a worldwide pandemic has killed more than 3,400 and infected more than 213,000 people in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University, both figures surpassing those reported by China.

Some people who were tested positive have begun their way to full recovery.

After 17 days in the hospital, including six days on a ventilator, Filipino American lawyer David Lat, 44, has been discharged from the NYU Langone Hospital in New York.

The lawyer shared the good news on his Twitter account on April 1 as he took his final hospital bed selfie.

In a series of tweets, Lat was effusive in thanking the hospital, particularly those he called  “health care heroes,” not only for saving his life, but for making a long hospitalization “as pleasant as such an experience can be.”

He also shared that he is participating in two studies, especially since NYU Langone is an academic hospital engaged in research to help learn more about how to fight diseases like the coronavirus.

He pulled his enthusiasm a bit saying that he is “not a paid spokesperson, just a grateful patient” and said he reserves the “right to return to Twitter and complain” if there’s a health insurance issue.

Lat mentioned it because he said he was very curious to see the total cost of his hospitalization, which “involved 2 ER visits, 16 hospital nights (mostly in the ICU), 1 intubation, 6 days on a ventilator, tons of oxygen.”

Asked about the treatment and medicine he received, Lat replied that his husband had to sign a medical consent because he [Lat] was eligible to be part of a special FDA drug trial.

“He agreed; I got the drug (along w/tocilizumab),” Lat said. “I was also given Kevzara, hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin, and Remdesivir. Which worked? Who knows! As the old JFK saying goes, success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.”

Upon his discharge on Wednesday, it has been 25 days since he first started having symptoms, ranging from intermittent fevers to joint aches, chills, fatigue and coughing. Two quick trips to the ER followed, after experiencing heavy labored breathing.

‘Harrowing experience, scary ordeal’

Fil-Am couple Ryan Letada and Amanda Bernardo, both fixtures in the local community, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 20.

“Thankfully, Amanda was mostly asymptomatic with coughs. I was not as lucky,” Letada, 34, posted on Facebook. “I battled unrelenting fevers, body aches, dry coughs, shortness of breaths, fatigue, stomach pains, diarrhea, and loss of appetite and taste.”

Initially, the couple felt overwhelmed so they did not decide to share their journey publicly.

“We decided to share this story today in hopes of educating others to take social and physical distancing seriously for yourself and our community,” Letada wrote.

“To give some context, I’ve been the fittest I’ve ever been in over 10 years and have no prior health conditions. This virus did not care. It knocked me out,” he added. “I can absolutely see how and why this virus can kill our most vulnerable population and even young people.”

He called on people to heed the rules, stay at home and practice social distancing when going out to buy essentials.

“No matter your age or fitness level- you are not invincible. We need to practice humility for our safety and our community safety, and practice disciplined social and physical distancing,” he said. “I’ve never felt this sickness before, and I would not wish this experience on anyone.”

Letada described the experience as “harrowing” and “a scary ordeal” for both of them and they felt helpless.

“We cried numerous times,” he revealed. “We felt anxious because we knew we were not in control.”

Letada felt the first symptoms on March 18, when he started coughing. The following day, there was a sharp drop-off in his condition and his symptoms accelerated and worsened.

“The fevers, dry coughs, and body aches intensified suddenly. My fiance, Amanda also had symptoms — and that’s when we knew there was something wrong and that we may have COVID-19,” he told the Asian Journal.

When the shortness of breath started worsening and he hit a fever of 102.4, they decided to get tested for COVID-19.

It was here when they faced a challenge with testing: On March 19th, they called the New York Department of Health and waited for two hours on the phone to reach someone. They asked for COVID-19 testing and the person on the other line said that someone would call to schedule testing within 48 hours.

They did not receive a call back until March 31 for a testing appointment in Staten Island. The couple lives in Brooklyn.

After more research, they found out that Northwell Urgent Care Clinic in Williamsburg, Brooklyn conducted testing. Bernardo took the test on the evening of March 19 and Letada took the test the following morning.

“According to Northwell Urgent Care, they only had one test left at 9:30 a.m. and decided to give it to me because of my symptoms. The results came back after 5 days.” Letada shared. “It was scary and anxiety-inducing to think how difficult it was to get tested in New York City.

The worst days came during the middle of the more than two-week ordeal because he was taking 9-10 Tylenol pills a day to manage the symptoms and this made him feel nauseous.

“On the morning of day 7, I blacked out. On the evening of Day 7, we weighed the option of going to the hospital because of my increasing fever and tightness of chest,” he shared. “I had an anxiety attack. Most hospitals didn’t allow guests, and I couldn’t imagine dying and being alone in the hospital without Amanda.”

Bernardo fully recovered on Day 15 while Letada is “90% of the way there” saying it has been a slow recovery.

“Two days ago, I was unable to take a deep breath without coughing,” Letada said. “Today, my breathing is back to normal.”

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