NAT DAY 1 Dr Angelo Santos - sickbed-1587882057349
Dr Angelo Santos seen here in hospital Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Filipino doctor in Dubai has shared on social media his daily anxiety and ordeal waiting for results of his coronavirus (COVID-19) test. Everyday, for the past 11 days, he has posted updates on Facebook from his sickbed in a hospital in Dubai.

Many other residents have undergone the same ordeal – some have lost but many have won, like Filipino expat and Dubai resident Dr Angelo Santos, 43, a clinical advisor at a global medical insurance company.

Some are showing zero or mild symptoms and are undergoing home quarantine; others had to be hospitalised for exhibiting multiple symptoms, including high fever, nausea, coughing and abdominal discomfort.

In the interest of sharing a message of hope and healing, Dr Santos has shared with Gulf News his 11-day diary battling the dreaded COVID-19.

Aside from being a medical professional, Dr Santos is also a popular travel blogger who has been featured in various local and international publications and websites. His last travel was between February 21 to March 8.

His fever was only present on April 10 and he was admitted in the hospital last April 13. Because of fever, doctors initially considered COVID-19 and he was treated with the same protocol as COVID patients.

NAT Day 02 -Dr Angelo Santos-1587882048330
Dr Santos shared his story on social media Image Credit: Supplied

Day 1, April 13, Monday, 4.33pm at Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital - Dubai

The doctor is sick! Fever, nausea and abdominal discomfort since Friday (April 10). No respiratory signs and symptoms. First time to experience loss of appetite and weakness this morning.

Two weeks ago, I was approving admission and extension request for COVID-19 patients, but now I’m a suspect. I never thought I would be on the other side.

Worst thing is to be alone abroad (theme song – ‘All By Myself’). Hailed a taxi to the hospital right at the peak of COVID-19 season.

Still febrile, no other manifestations. They gave me nexium zofran paracetamol levofloxacin IV. I’m a COVID-suspect until test result will be out after three days. Please pray for it to be negative. I don’t want to add to the statistics.

Extremely thankful to all ER, diagnostic, admitting, nursing and medical staff of Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital. Chest x-ray, CT scan chest, Ultrasound scan whole abdomen, pelvis, KUB, blood works, covid-test (nasal swab/nasopharyngeal) everything covered by our company’s medical insurance as mandated by the government - thank you!

Before, it was my dream to go to Antarctica and Iceland. Now, my only wish is to have a lower body temperarute. I have spoken to my son. God is good!

Day 2, April 14, Tuesday, 12.09pm

I took shower at 4am and changed to new clothes. Gastric upset was controlled by IV Nexium and Zofran yesterday, so I was able to eat. No manifestations now except for fever, still at 37.8.-39 degrees Celsius. Doctors loaded me with IV Levofloxacin (CT scan suspicious of Pneumonia) + IV Paracetamol round the clock. Still praying COVID-19 test to be negative; will be out in 3-5 days, I was told.

On a lighter note, I had a low-salt lomi (noodles) for breakfast. It was good! Thank you to everyone who sent messages and more importantly, to those who included me in their prayers. I am not a religious person but let me tell you all that I am happy not only because you prayed for me, but for the fact that there are a lot of us who still believe in God and the power of prayers.

Please pray also for those fighting for their lives affected by this virus; let’s all pray for healing.

10.02pm - I called doctor on duty and she kindly told me my lab results : Normal D-dimer (less than 0.50), respiratory panel negative, old corona test negative (still pending for COVID-19 test), CRP (c-reactive protein) only 12, ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate), WBC (white blood cells) normal, liver and kidney function tests normal.

I also asked if my blood was tested for malaria, she said not yet. I’m not a pathologist but personally, I would prefer malaria or pneumonia than COVID. It’s so weird my fever 39 degrees Celsius now unrelieved by IV Paracetamol round the clock. They placed me on IV levofloxacin again now, and as per nurse, I still need to wait for result of COVID test and they have COVID positive patients here whose presentation is only fever like me.

I remain thankful to all hospital staff who care for all of us who are helpless but not hopeless and uncertain at this time. My trust, faith and love for God haven’t changed. Please continue praying for me, if it’s not too much to ask. God bless.

NAT Day 03 - Dr Angelo Santos-1587882053759
Dr Santos cools his temperature with ice packs Image Credit: Supplied

Day 3, April 15, Wednesday, 4.46am

I have a request. I would like to ask help from my friends who could bring me the following items that I can use: shirts, shorts or jogging pants, boxers, towel, disposable razor, nail cutter, toothpaste, soap, and plastic bag.

No visitors allowed. Please leave the items at reception of ER (emergency room), Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital, Dubai Healthcare City. The nurses or staff will bring them up to my room number 602. Thank you and God bless.

6.41am – Thank you to everyone who have responded to my request.

1.06pm - Temp is down to 38.3 degrees Celsius

7.54pm - Temp is up, 39.3 degrees Celsius; no other signs and symptoms; O2 sat (oxygen saturation) normal. Pending COVID-19 result. I cannot be grateful enough to the people whom I havent met yet who responded to my request this morning.

10.38pm - Done with another IV Levofloxacin + Paracetamol. I was told by nurse she will do another swab test after midnight later, and the result of initial swab test (COVID-19 test) done last Monday could be received tomorrow.

NAT Day 02 - Dr Angelo Santos still with IV-1587882046967
Dr Santos was set up with an intravenous drip Image Credit: Supplied

Day 4, April 16, Thursday, 7.55am

Took shower at 2am, woke up at 6.11am with worst temp I have so far - 39.9 degrees Celsius. Kabayan nurse on duty hooked me again to IV paracetamol + ice packs. My vital signs are okay, even O2 sat is 96-97 but she provided me a “new toy” - an Incentive Spirometer which measures volume of air inspired and expired by the lungs. Normally, when one inhales through its mouthpiece, 3 balls should go up! Then exhale outside. And I think I’m okay – it’s just my stubborn fever!

A second swab test/COVID test was done. I need to have at least 2-3 negative swab test results and for my fever to subside for them to discharge me. Results of both tests done on Monday and today still pending. Please continue praying for me. Thank you for all the messages, prayers, love and support.

Kabayan nurse on duty informed me that a fellow Filipino positive COVID patient recovered and was discharged yesterday. She mentioned the patient had worst fever, 40+ with low O2 sat and was supported by oxygen via face mask. She told me, my presentation being fever only is better; I continue praying my two swab tests would be negative too, and for my fever to subside.

1.02pm - Started on IV fluids after another dose of IV Paracetamol. Temp 38.6 degrees Celsius.
First time to have three bouts of LBM (loose bowell movement), watery after breakfast so treating doctor requested stool sample for analysis.

10.10pm - Temp at 39.4 degrees Celsius. They gave me ice packs, sponge bath, IV paracetamol, IV levofloxacin. Negative malarial test, stool exam negative for Chlostridium difficile. Pending two swab COVID test results.

Day 5, April 17, Friday, 3.42am

Negative swab COVID test done last Monday upon admission. Still pending second swab COVID test result. Thank you so much, God! Thank you to everyone who are praying for me and to those good Samaritans who extended help unconditionally.

Temp is 39.5 degrees Celsius, IVF, IV paracetamol, IV levofloxacin. I coughed three times, first time last night and doctor gave me Dextromethorphan. Cough was relieved. No more coughing only fever.

1.24pm – Temp down to 37.8 degrees Celsius but I had three bouts of LBM again this morning so stool was sent for analysis again. I was told Widal test (for typhoid and enteric fever) will be done tomorrow.

3.34pm - My youngest brother in Abu Dhabi sent some comfort food. I liked the pineapple juice because my taste buds are bland now.

4:35pm - IV line leaked; nurse had to reinsert. She returned with IV paracetamol. Temp went up again 38.8 degrees Celsius, plus had five times LBM watery today; stool was submitted again for lab test. Widal will be done tomorrow. I asked for blood culture but they will refer it first to treating doctor.

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Food became Dr Santos' only source of joy despite the fact his taste buds weren't working Image Credit: Supplied

Day 6, April 18, Saturday, 6.33am

Third nasal swab COVID test was done. First swab was negative for COVID-19. Pending second and third lab results within 3-5 days. Blood extraction for Widal test done. Temp went down to 37.6’C after I sweat a lot almost entire night with IV paracetamol IV levofloxacin. No LBM today.

8.48am – Temp at 37.7’C. Thankful to all hospital staff, particularly the kabayan nurses, who have been really caring and doing their job beyond outstanding. Thankful to God and to everyone who reached out to help particularly to my former students, and most especially to those donors whom I haven’t met yet. It’s heartwarming to know that a lot of people will go out of their way to help someone in need.

Day 7, April 19, Sunday, 7.02am

Feeling better - thank you, God! Temp at 37 degrees Celsius; Two tabs Reconil + IV Nexium given and RBS (random blood sugar) 157. Last night, they gave me new oral meds : Single dose Reconil (Hydroxychloroquine) + Gupisone 20mg x2 (Prednisolone) + injected blood thinner (anticoagulant) directly on my tummy.

Today at 3:39am, ECG (electrocardiogram) was done (perhaps to check effect of Reconil) + blood extraction for CBC (complete blood count) + CRP (c-reactive protein) was done by nurses.

Yesterday, 3rd swab covid test was done (pending results for 2nd & 3rd, negative on first COVID nasal swab), blood culture was done, Widal test was done, sputum and stool cultures were done as well.

Hospital nurses are very efficient, patient-friendly, professional, highly-skilled; I am so proud of them and will remain grateful for as long as I live.

5.46pm - My best temp yet 36.8 degrees Celsius. They gave me Gupisone (Prednisolone), Reconil (Hydroxychloroquine), per orem, Clexane (Enoxaparin) injection on my tummy.

No more IV paracetamol and IV levofloxacin today. Still pending result of cultures Widal, second and third COVID swab test.

Meals - kitchen staff calls me night before for my preference for breakfast, today I opted for Filipino breakfast and they delivered low salt chicken soup, and tea with milk. For lunch, fish fillet with mashed potato; tomato soup with beans was really nice. For dinner, I had grilled chicken, lentil soup, and tomato rice.

I hope all patients have access to meals and medical treatment like these because we all deserve better health if only our government back home (Philippines) could provide mandatory medical insurance to all employees/tax payers. This is my hope and wish for the Philippines.

NAT Day 01 Dr Angelo Santos-1587882043357
Dr Santos kept in constant contact with his followers through social media Image Credit: Supplied

Day 8, April 20, Monday, 8.44am

Lack of sleep but full of hope and gratitude. No more fever, temp at 36.5. ECG done; CBC + CRP done at 5AM.
Still on oral meds Reconil, Gupisone; plus they gave me my maintenance on DM, HTN (hypertension).

8.58am - Received new shirts from my good friend, Ron.

2.51pm - Clexane SC given. Doctor said that most COVID patients develop microthrombosis in lungs; so to prevent that to me, they’re giving me Clexane subcutaneously.

4pm - Received an SMS that my COVID-19 test result was negative. I will verify at nurses’ station if was the second swab test.

Day 9, April 21, Tuesday, 8.29am

No discharge order yet.
ECG done at 4.30am. Hydroxychloroquine (Reconil) 200mg/tab BID given plus my maintenance for DM+HTN.

1.21pm - Nurse confirmed that consultant has no discharge order yet and blood extractions tomorrow will be done for liver and kidney function tests.

3.59pm - Clexane subcutaneously given. Gupisone 2 tabs oral given. Blood sugar tested.

NAT 3rd travel coffee table book-1587882041790
Dr Santos usually blogs on travel and produces coffee table books of his journeys Image Credit: Supplied

Day 10, April 22, Wednesday, 4.48am

ECG done and blood extraction for Liver Function Test and Renal Function Test. I hope results would be normal and I wish the consultant would discharge me today or very soon.

Last night, they gave me Reconil, Gupisone, and Clexane SC (FYI, they say most COVID patients develop microthrombosis in lungs, hence they’re giving me Clexane as preventive - despite two negative COVID swab test results already).

8:24am – Self love. Ordered online food that could lasts me from brunch until dinner!. Hallelujah! I was admitted with fever, nausea and loss of appetite, now I am celebrating – Thanks be to God!

9.34am - Doctor said they only received on negative COVID swab test result yet. She said, as soon as they received the second COVID swab test as negative as well, then and only then, they will discharge me. The criteria for discharge are at least 2-3 negative COVID swab test plus no more signs and symptoms.

In other news, even if I am still in the hospital, people appreciated my Dubai photos. Today, two of my old images were featured on IG of @picsdubai and @amazingdubai_ . Thank you so much.

NAT Day 03 Dr Angelo Santos - bed made up-1587882055678
Dr Santos' bed after his 11-day ordeal is through Image Credit: Supplied

Day 11, April 23, Thursday, 5.35am

ECG done at 2.24am, they’re monitoring daily as they’re treating me with Reconil. IV dose of Nexium given at 5:10AM. I don’t have any signs and symptoms now. Fever subsided last Sunday. Temp now is 37 degrees Celsius pre-shower.

I prayed the second COVID swab test result will be out today or soon and will be negative too like the first one. Criteria for discharge are at least 2-3 COVID swab negative results + asymptomatic + cleared labs.

6.21pm – Good news! COVID tests – all three – negative. I am now officially discharged!

Thank you, God Almighty!
Thank you to my parents and brothers!
Thank you to everyone who prayed for me, those who sent help, those who expressed words of encouragement and hope and love!

I’m on my way home. Please continue praying for healing for those battling with Coronavirus and for the courageous frontliners. Thank you so much!