DAYS before Constancia Eduarte of Midsayap, North Cotabato got her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on August 17, she was already feeling a bit weak, according to her daughter Teresita Eduarte.
But the family is in favor of the vaccine and believes its efficacy and so they wanted their elderly mother to have an extra layer of protection against the virus even if she doesn’t leave the house.
By this time, Constancia was 99 years old. Because of weakness brought about by her old age, a small team of medical practitioners did a vaccination house service in their home in Midsayap. Teresita shared that they were confident for their mother to have the first dose as her vitals, her blood pressure, and her temperature were all normal upon assessment prevaccination. It’s also important to note that aside from old age, Constancia doesn’t have other comorbidities and is living her life healthily. Before testing positive for coronavirus, she was also never admitted to a hospital recently because of an illness, shared Corrie Cuison, her other daughter.
Her weakness was doubled with loss of appetite and occasional fever. She also didn’t talk that much. However, from August 19 to 20, the family noticed their mother was feeling better and would even talk loudly. They became hopeful until August 21 when their mother wouldn’t drink her milk again. Two days after observation, they finally decided to take their mother to the Midsayap Diagnostic Center where she tested positive for coronavirus. There, she was isolated in a room with only her private caregiver with her.
“Our mother doesn't leave the house so it’s possible that she got the virus from people who live with her who are asymptomatic but would come and go out of the house. We cannot really trace. It’s hard to tell,” said Corrie.
On top of her being positive for the virus, she was also diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia, which made matters more complicated for her. Constancia already experienced difficulty breathing.
“We had to move our mom to Dr. Ramon Pesante Clinic & Hospital [in Libungan, North Cotabato] on August 30 because they are the only ones who have this high-flow oxygen cannula. My mom already needed a high-oxygen level at that time... She was given Remdesivir and antibiotics for pneumonia,” said Corrie, who is a nurse in the USA and had been attending to Covid patients as well. She decided to immediately travel back home to help take care of their mother’s needs. She arrived on September 3 to help Teresita and other family members.
Constancia spent most of her life as a mother to 12 children and a housewife to her husband. Even when she was younger, she was very conscious of her and her family’s food intake.
Her daughters see her being a vegetarian as one of the reasons for her long life without lifestyle diseases surfacing later on.
“During her younger days, she was a teacher, but because there are so many children in the family, she decided to stay in the house. But she’s also active in social activities. She’s active in the church as a member of the Catholic Women’s League (CWL). Their group has a good friendship with the priests and the nuns here. She’s a staunch supporter of community projects. She was even given a special award from the local government here -- Contribution to the Community Award. She also has a daycare center in Libungan under her name,” shared Corrie.
During Constancia’s stay at the second hospital, she was regularly supplied with high-flow nasal oxygen. Her feeding was also supplied to her via dextrose as her body can’t yet tolerate the effort of swallowing. Her treatment and oxygen supply was constant and by September 16, she was stable enough to be sent home with her family.
On September 14, before she came back home, she already tested negative on the test kits Corrie brought home from the States. She was tested again on September 16, which also came back negative.
“She’s already home and when we have the chance, we test again and it always comes out negative. We tested everyone here at home, even the driver and her caregiver. We’re all negative,” shared Corrie, who said she also tested her mother on September 3 when she arrived at the hospital only to confirm that her mother was indeed Covid-positive that time.
On September 22, 2021, Constancia celebrated her 100th birthday, much to the happiness of her family.
“We’re just happy that she’s free of Covid now. She’s still in the process of recovery, she’s still attached to a regular-flow oxygen here in the house. Considering her age, it can be a slow process to full recuperation from Covid just like the other Covid survivors out there. We’re just happy that when she got the virus days before her birthday, she was able to survive that and test negative before her birthday,” Corrie said.
She added they are grateful and are confident that it was the vaccine that helped lengthen the life of their mother despite being hit by Covid-19. Even if it was a single dose only, Corrie said it was already a huge help for her mother. She said they wanted her story to serve as an inspiration to those who are still doubting the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine available in the Philippines now.