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  • Nurse Who Hasn't Seen Kids Due To COVID-19 Says, 'Tao Lang, Hindi Immortal'

    She has only been able to talk to her family through video calls.
    by Kate Borbon .
Nurse Who Hasn't Seen Kids Due To COVID-19 Says, 'Tao Lang, Hindi Immortal'
PHOTO BY courtesy of Odie-Cy Atienza
  • While Filipinos are staying at home as much as possible, people from various fields have been working tirelessly to help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these frontliners are doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who have been tending to patients with the disease, all the while risking their own health and being away from their loved ones.

    One medical professional who has been doing her part to care for COVID-19 patients is Cyril Atienza, a stroke nurse who works at The Medical City in Ortigas, reports Pep.ph. She took to Facebook to share her experiences and the difficulty of being away from her husband and three children.

    “I am a stroke nurse, but now it is not about who I am but what I can do and how I can help,” Cyril wrote. “Let us all help flatten the curve.”

    Since the beginning of the enhanced community quarantine, Cyril has not been able to see her family. “Sakit sa puso, pero para sa safety nila ‘yun.”
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Odie-Cy Atienza

    Cyril started by sharing the story of her experience taking care of an elderly patient. “At that time, I had an elderly stroke patient, which had an episode of desaturation overnight and difficulty of breathing, so she was put into a BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure, a ventilator that helps push air into the lungs) to help her breathe and apparently was not resolved by it, she had an episode of fever, and a repeat X-ray was ordered.

    “Then suddenly out of nowhere, the patient’s son came to me, and said, ‘I’m sorry, we did not tell you guys na we had a relative admitted [to] the same hospital and is [a] PUI (person under investigation).”

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    This revelation appalled Cyril and her colleagues. “Wala na parang gusto kong himatayin, gusto kong umiyak. Hindi ako galit sa inyo pero masamang-masama [loob] ko! The damage has been done — ‘yun lang naisip ko no’n.”

    Cyril added that at the time, the hospital rooms had not yet been converted into negative pressure rooms, and her patient was more vulnerable because she was attached to a BiPAP. As she fixed the patient’s BiPAP, the air coming out from the patient’s mouth was directed straight to Cyril’s face.

    Right then, all Cyril could think about was her children: Van Dyke, 15; Vyone Cyra, 10; and Vyanch Cyara, 5. “Naiisip ko ‘yung mga anak ko, [mga] pangarap ko sa kanila [at para] sa amin. Ganun na kalala ‘yung anxiety ko bilang normal na tao lang naman din nga ako, hindi nga immortal!”

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    Cyril with her husband Odilon and three children, Van Dyke, Vyone Cyra, and Vyanch Cyara.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Odie-Cy Atienza

    She decided to ask her husband Odilon to take the children to their grandparents’ home in Antipolo (this was before the enhanced community quarantine was implemented). “Wala na, naisip ko isang buwan ko na sila hindi makakasama bilang simula na nga ng lockdown ng March 15.”

    Cyril did not let this hurdle stop her from fulfilling her duty, deciding to stay with the patient despite not having any personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear. She wrote, “Pero ayun tuloy pa din ang trabaho, patient ko ‘yun e, walang ibang mag-aalaga sa kanya, ako lang. Labeled na siya as PUM (person under monitoring) pero since may mga symptoms we treat them as PUI.

    “Naisip ko? Lahat sila, Lola, iniwan ka nila, [hayaan] mo dito lang ako para sa’yo, ganun naman na din, na-expose na ‘ko, samahan ko na siya.”


    Cyril had no choice but to have a long-distance relationship with her family. “Saket sa puso, pero para sa safety nila ‘yun.” She gave her husband lots of reminders, like making sure to pack the kids’ vitamins and snacks and avoiding non-essential travel at all costs. He also gave her regular updates while on their way to Antipolo.

    While at work, Cyril communicated to her children through mobile applications. As she talked to her kids, she couldn’t help but get emotional. “‘Yung wala kang kasiguraduhan sa mangyayare, nakatingin ka na lang. Inisip mo [hanggang kailan] kaya kami ganito. Ayun. Saket e, ha.”

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    Even if she can’t go home, Cyril uses mobile applications to communicate with her husband and kids.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Odie-Cy Atienza

    Cyril’s husband and kids have been staying in Antipolo while she remains in the city for work.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Odie-Cy Atienza

    There were moments when Cyril broke down at work. “Pagkatapos ko gawin lahat, saka na ‘ko pumunta sa malayo sa isang kwarto, nagpahinga, umupo, at nag-check ng phone, nag-update kay Odilon at tumawag din [at] nag-update sa kaibigan kong si Ice, bigla na lang umiyak, sa pagod [at] sa takot. Naisip ko mga anak ko. Ayun emosyunal e. After ko umiyak at mag-drama, tumayo at bumalik sa station…”

    The manager and director eventually found a way to provide Cyril and her coworkers with the PPE they need. Her team also discovered that the test results of their patient’s relative were negative, which meant their patient was no longer a PUM.

    “Grabe ‘yung gratitude ko kay Lord. Ibang klase,” Cyril said of the moment when she knew of the negative test results. “Basta gumawa ka lang ng kabutihan sa kapwa mo, magtiwala ka kay Lord, hindi ka niya pababayaan!”

    They also received various donations, which they shared with other workers at the hospital, like members of the housekeeping and maintenance staff.

    For now, Cyril is continually working to help flatten the curve, along with many other medical professionals in the Philippines and abroad. “Hindi bilang stroke nurse pero bilang isang nurse walang ibang label,” she wrote. “Kung saan kami ilagay, kung saan kami magtrabaho, gagawin namin basta makatulong. Sabe nga ng boss namin na si Dr. Racelis, ‘For the greater Good.’”


    Cyril added, “Okay po, doc. Sa abot po ng aming makakaya. Lalaban po ang lahat basta po [andiyan] kayo para [suportahan] kami.”

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