Case 74 pens letter to encourage other coronavirus patients; arranging for sunflowers to be sent to them
SINGAPORE - Your temperature goes up and down and while it feels like the flu, you do not necessarily feel ill initially. But the symptoms will become more apparent over time, said one coronavirus patient warded at Alexandra Hospital.
"This is a strange virus," said the 29-year-old, known as case 74, in a three-page letter addressed to other patients to encourage them. "Your taste buds are bland and appetite poor, but eat enough and take in nutrients and fluids to stay nourished."
Trust the doctor and nurses, he added, as he told them they were not alone in the fight against the coronavirus.
The patient, who has been warded at Alexandra Hospital since Feb 15, told reporters that he decided last week to pen the letter to spur on other patients, particularly foreigners who do not have family support here.
He has also asked hospital staff to help send them sunflowers, which he is paying for himself.
"This virus doesn't pick its patient," he said, adding that he does not know most of those affected. "I want to encourage them and provide them with resources to fight this virus confidently."
Case 74 is linked to the Grace Assembly of God church - the biggest cluster of coronavirus infections here.
Dr Jason Phua, chief executive of Alexandra Hospital, confirmed to the ST that the hospital is doing its best to help with his request. "People like this gentleman remind us that the four walls of an isolation room cannot hold humanity back. They inspire all healthcare workers to fight this battle with them, for them - and for all of us."
The hospital is now getting the letter translated into various languages and seeing how best to go about the sunflower delivery.
Case 74, who declined to be named, said the "fear was intense" when he tested positive for the virus, adding that "the first night in the isolation room was the longest night of my life".
"I couldn't sleep until the morning. I kept praying and praying, I cried too," said the patient, who was only able to get enough rest in recent nights.
He first experienced headaches, before developing a fever. Subsequently, more symptoms, such as a sore throat and light cough, appeared.
He reported the onset of symptoms on Feb 12. He sought treatment at Alexandra Hospital on the same day and again on Feb 15, when he was admitted.
In his letter, he shared that while every patient's condition is unique, the "fear and anxiety over the unknown" are common.
"I am not alone because a lot of people are rallying behind, supporting and praying for you," he wrote. "I want to share this letter with you and other fellow patients who have been hit with this strange virus, whoever and wherever you may be and come from."
He also shared some tips to help patients adjust, including documenting their experiences in a journal, communicating with the medical team on how they are feeling and staying connected with loved ones.
"Go slow on social media because there will be 'noises' which you must filter out before they heap you with more anxiety," he added. "Wherever you may be warded, don't stay bed-bound if you can. I took this time to clear the clutter in my brain and stand near my window around 5pm every day to enjoy the warmth of the sunset.
"Put your experience to paper and let your loved ones, your children and future generations read about what you had gone through, what went through your mind and what insights you have drawn."
For now, case 74 looks forward to his discharge.
"I really look forward to seeing my parents. I am so glad that they are asymptomatic at home," he said, adding that he has lost some weight during his week-long hospital stay.
He also commended the front-line workers for cheering him on each day while putting their own lives at risk.
"I want to thank them for taking good care of me. I want to be able to see them without their (personal protective equipment) and thank them in person," he added.