Mornings are the hardest.
He nonetheless wakes up at 4 a.m., as he normally does, to arrange the children for college. And he half-expects to see her in her nook of the room, portray, doing calligraphy, recording songs, or enhancing movies. He’s the early riser between them, however when his spouse will get an pressing name in the course of the night time, she finds it arduous to return to sleep, so she indulges her hobbies.
However Dr. Kathlynne Anne Abat-Senen is now not in her nook. She is now not singing or writing or taking hospital calls. And her husband, Dr. Jerome Senen, continues to be waking up early and attempting very arduous to reside the life she had needed for them.
“It’s nonetheless a bit surreal for me. Each time I get up, I nonetheless half-expect that I’ll see her subsequent to me. That’s one of many first issues I missed—’yung might katabi ako sa pagtulog and ‘yung routine namin na we’ve got breakfast with the children, then attend to our sufferers,” Jerome mentioned.
Jerome is a pediatric pulmonologist whereas his spouse Karen, as she is known as by household and pals, was a neonatologist and lecturer on the Philippine Basic Hospital (PGH). They’ve a non-public clinic in Valenzuela Metropolis and in a number of hospitals in Bulacan. When the pandemic hit and medical doctors started to get contaminated, the couple determined to proceed attending to their sufferers, regardless of the chance, as a result of that was what they have been referred to as to do as medical doctors.
“Sabi namin, it will be a disservice to everyone kung magtatago tayo, so we continued seeing sufferers,” Jerome mentioned. “We did further precautions: naka-full PPE (private protecting tools) kami kahit sobrang pawis, hindi kami makainom, maka-CR, makahubad kasi ang init ng PPE. It’s an excellent factor our home has a small bathe outdoors so we’d clear up earlier than seeing the children.”
As a result of many pregnant girls have been unable to have their common check-ups in the course of the lockdown, there have been a number of untimely and sophisticated births, which meant Karen’s companies as a neonatologist have been very in-demand. This took a toll on her well being.
In late June, Karen was one of many medical frontliners contaminated with COVID-19. She recovered in July and remained in excessive spirits, even recording a track to have fun her discharge from the hospital. However only a week later, she examined optimistic for COVID-19 once more and needed to be readmitted to PGH however this time, her scenario didn’t look good.
In August, after 44 days within the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU), Karen misplaced her battle with COVID-19.
Her mother and father and siblings, who had final seen her in March earlier than the government-enforced lockdown, couldn’t maintain her. Her youngsters couldn’t say goodbye and even her husband, who stayed on the hospital your complete 44 days, may depend the occasions he was allowed to see her within the ICU.
“Ito yung hindi nakikita ng common na tao. It’s not solely the dread na baka mamatay ka. There’s additionally the emotional stress of relations—being away, not with the ability to say goodbye besides by way of a video name,” Jerome mentioned.
“The worth of the virus isn’t just the lifetime of the particular person but in addition the people who she is going to go away behind. My children are nonetheless small, 8 and 11 (years previous), at lalaki silang walang mother. Doon ako naiiyak eh,” he mentioned.
The kids have obtained counseling and assist from their faculty, and are at present preoccupied with their on-line lessons. Jerome’s mom, a retired trainer, and his brother, an IT specialist, assist take care of them. On weekends, they go to Karen’s mother and father in Las Piñas to play with their cousins, or they convey flowers to Karen’s resting place.
Outpouring of affection
Karen’s was one of many high-profile COVID-19 circumstances amongst medical frontliners, not simply because it raised the difficulty of COVID-19 reinfection, however as a result of within the darkest of occasions, it confirmed the wonderful methods folks got here collectively to assist her household.
“Sa monetary, grateful kami na andami- daming tumulong sa amin. Lahat ng networks ng mga kilala namin or kilala namin in passing, and even mga hindi namin kilala in any respect, even from the opposite aspect of the world, helped us in their very own little methods—mga small issues that if you happen to add up have helped us tremendously,” Jerome mentioned.
His classmates from Philippine Science Excessive Faculty volunteered to make digital portraits to lift funds for Karen’s medical payments, as did Karen’s pals from grade faculty and highschool. A Fb group of fountain pen collectors, of which he and Karen have been members, did a fundraising public sale of their collectible pens. A pediatrician’s artist good friend did caricatures and donated the proceeds to them, as did a batchmate in medical faculty (College of the Philippines Manila) who bought her work for Karen.
A US-based ninong and pals overseas raised $25,073 by way of GoFundMe for the ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine Karen wanted. The machine needed to be rented from the Nationwide Kidney and Transplant Institute for PHP 750,000, plus PHP 20,000 per day of use. Karen used the ECMO machine for over 30 days. She was additionally hooked to a ventilator and needed to bear dialysis utilizing one other machine that was not out there in PGH and therefore, needed to be rented. These are on prime of the day by day remedy and blood transfusions Karen required.
“The price may be very, very staggering. Good factor talaga na andaming tumulong sa amin,” Jerome mentioned. “Parang nagkaroon ng spirit of bayanihan, not simply sa funds however even in different facets like blood donation. One instance: meron kaming remedy na hindi mahanap wherever, so we posted on Fb asking for assist. Meron na lang nag-contact sa amin—good friend namin ni Karen na physician na matagal na naming hindi nakikita—she purchased the medicines from St. Luke’s (Medical Heart),” he mentioned.
Jerome was additionally grateful to PGH for giving him a spot to remain whereas Karen was within the ICU, and for coordinating with different hospitals for every part they wanted. He additionally talked about Sen. Richard Gordon, who by way of the Philippine Pink Cross, supplied blood provide for Karen’s wants.
Above all, Jerome mentioned he couldn’t have finished it with out Karen’s siblings. They sought and facilitated help by way of Fb, driving folks to PGH to donate blood. Whereas they knew how pleasant their sister was, even they have been astounded by the outpouring of affection from strangers. They realized it was the payback for the earnest service Jerome and Karen had given folks by way of the years.
“We had no regrets seeing our sufferers kasi kung di kami titingin, paano na sila?” Jerome mentioned. The mother and father of untimely infants Karen had helped save have despatched not simply monetary help but in addition letters and prayers for his or her physician.
“Minsan might magpapadala sa GCash namin ng PHP 50, mga hindi mo aakalain na magpapadala kasi alam ko naman na mahirap din buhay nila. Baka yung PHP 100 or 200 na padala sa akin iyon ay pantawid na nila ng meal, however they opted to ship it to us,” he mentioned.
Assist well being employees
Karen’s case has turned the highlight on well being employees preventing a battle that appears to don’t have any finish in sight. Jerome is grateful for all of the post-humous recognition Karen had obtained, particularly from the Valenzuela Metropolis authorities and its congressional workplace. However his largest need is for the nation’s leaders to understand that well being employees need assistance, and for the folks to do their half to stop the unfold of COVID-19.
“Medical frontliners actually, actually need assistance kasi hindi lang kami ang kailangan to cease the virus. Everyone has to do their half; if we don’t, walang mangayayari sa Pilipinas,” he mentioned.
“Don’t exit of the home if not wanted,” Jerome virtually pleaded. “The story of Karen is a precautionary story, na kahit gaya ni Karen na grabeng pag-iingat na, sinunod lahat ng precautions, pero tinamaan pa rin and hindi sya naka-recover. It’s a lesson na dapat matutunan ng lahat.”
Jerome, who chairs the pediatric division of Marymount Hospital in Meycauayan, plans to renew working in November when he’s finished with Karen’s paperwork. Some have questioned this resolution but it surely was what Karen would have needed him to do, he mentioned.
“It’s a promise I made to Karen—that I’d proceed to be a health care provider to the children who want me. It’s my method of honoring her reminiscence and the pact we made in the course of the pandemic,” he mentioned.
Is he scared?
“Sure, but when magpapadala ka sa takot—if each doctor ay matatakot—walang mangyayari sa atin. Pupulutin tayo kung saan-saan, magkakasakit tayo pare-pareho,” he mentioned. “I simply should be ready mentally, spiritually, psychologically, emotionally as a result of that’s what Karen needs me to do— to work however to even be ready.”
To learn tales of connecting lives for good, go to https://www.insularlife.com.ph/information/insular-life-highlights-filipinos-resilience-and-hope-473
Dr. Kathlynne Anne Abat-Senen was one of many InLife Sheroes featured by Insular Life for its Moms’ Day 2020 particular: Moms on the Frontline. When requested what it’s that drives her to do what she does, she answered: “I’ve all the time been motivated by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote ‘The aim of life is to not be joyful. It’s to be helpful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some distinction that you’ve got lived and lived effectively.’ I’m lucky to have a household that encourages me to reside a lifetime of function.”
To learn her story, go to www.inlifesheroes.com/articles/frontline-moms-1