‘I am Patient 194’: Doctor shares battle with COVID-19, says colleagues intubated

Thea Alberto-Masakayan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2020 02:39 PM

Dr. Grace Caras-Torres of St Luke's Medical center in Quezon City said she was positive of COVID-19. Photo from her Facebook page

MANILA - Medical frontliners like Dr. Grace Caras-Torres knew the risks that come with the job. But after contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), she realized she was not ready to die.

“Ngayon lang ako natakot. Napaiyak ako. Hindi pa ako handang mamatay," Caras-Torres said in a Facebook post Monday, admitting publicly she is Philippines’ Patient 194. As of writing, the country has 345 existing COVID-19 cases, as 18 others have recovered and 33 have succumbed to the disease.

(I've only been afraid now. I really cried. I am not yet ready to die.)

"Kailangan pa ako ng anak ko. Sasabak pa ako sa gyera... Hindi lang pala virus ang kalaban ko, pati katinuan ng pag-iisip.” 

(My child needs me. I still need to fight this war, but then the enemy isn’t just the virus, it’s also finding a way how to stay sane.)

The Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 tracker described PH194 as a 42-year-old female from Quezon City. 

In her now-viral Facebook post, Caras-Torres said she had repeated high-grade fevers, unusual headaches and body malaise, and lost her appetite.

What she thought was Chikungunya, a virus spread to people through a mosquito bite, turned out to be the dreaded COVID-19. 

“Saka lang nag-sink in sa 'kin na posibleng COVID nga ito nung malaman kong may symptoms din yung kasama kong mag-opera ilang araw nang nakalipas,” she said. 

(I belatedly realized this could be COVID-19, when I learned that a colleague whom I was with during an operation procedure manifested same symptoms).

Caras-Torres, an OB-Gynecologist specializing in infertility at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, and holding clinic at Metro North Hospital and Commonwealth Hospital, told ABS-CBN News that she is under home quarantine.

She exhibited symptoms on March 7, got swabbed for samples at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa on March 14, and was notified about her positive status on March 19. 

She said she called out to God after realizing that she unwittingly exposed her 4-year-old child, her senior citizen parents, and the rest of her family to the virus.

“Di bale nang ako, wag lang sila. Nagkulong na ako sa kwarto. Nag-birthday akong naka-quarantine at may sakit na nakamamatay. Buti pala umabot pa ako ng 42…ang mga colleagues kong may COVID ay naka-intubate,” she shared.

(I prayed that they be spared. I locked myself up in the room. I celebrated my birthday in quarantine and with a potentially fatal disease. I was just grateful to reach 42, and my colleagues are already intubated.)

Her family “didn’t warrant testing” because they were asymptomatic, she said. 

Just when Caras-Torres felt she was recovering, she had gastrointestinal pains, and as of posting, suffering from diarrhea and stomach cramps.

As she battles the disease, Caras-Torres urged the public to reach out to those who are quarantined and their families. 

“Kamustahin niyo mga kakilala nyong may sakit, mga naka-quarantine, at ang pamilya nila. Kelangan nila ng pagpapalakas ng loob," she said.

(If you know any who is sick, or is on quarantine, ask them and their families how they are. They need somebody to boost their spirit.)

"Sana matapos na ito. Sana gumaling na kami. Sana wala nang mamatay," she prays.

(I hope this will be over. I hope we all get healed. I hope no one else will die.)

"Miss na miss ko na ang anak ko."

(I terribly miss my child.)

"Ngunit salamat pa din sa lahat ng taong tumulong at nangamusta. Too many to mention. Mahal ko kayo. At Diyos ko, maraming salamat po at buhay pa ako at okay ang pamilya ko.” 

(Thanks to all the people extending help and asking how I am. Too many to mention. I love you all. And, my Lord, thank you very much I am still alive and my family is okay.)

The World Health Organization's latest report showed that nearly 300,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded globally, with deaths approaching the 13,000 mark.