I spent 48 hours in the NCID as a patient
Vanessa Lee // February 18, 2020, 12:56 pm
“Sorry ma’am, but because you attend Grace Assembly of God church, we think it would be best if we sent you to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) to get your symptoms checked – the ambulance is on the way.”
That was what I was told after my consultation at the polyclinic for a sore throat and runny nose. I thank God for the healthcare workers who serve us so efficiently: I was at the NCID within 30 minutes, greeted by nurses covered up in goggles, masks, bodysuits and boots.
After a series of questions, I was directed to a waiting area. It was like having to take exams all over again; school tables were arranged according to numbers, and you were presented with a pencil and a form to fill up.
The form consisted of a series of questions, similar to the ones you get asked verbally.
- Have you been overseas in the past 14 days?
- Have you been in contact with any confirmed cases?
- Have you been to any of these places? (a long list of locations that previous cases have been to)
Once I completed the form, a doctor was assigned to me to conclude whether I needed to be admitted or not. I also had to do a chest X-ray to see the condition of my lungs.
The results showed that my right lung was hazy, which could be a problem as there might be fluid in the lungs, a potential sign of pneumonia.
Then the dreaded words came: “You will be admitted.”
Within 20 minutes, I was taken to an isolation ward.
To be honest, it all happened so quickly, and I had so much adrenaline pumping through my body that the gravity of the situation didn’t sink in until I was alone.
I had left the house that day thinking things would be fine. Although my symptoms went away a few hours ago, I thought I was just being socially responsible by checking things out.
I didn’t expect to find myself in an NCID isolation ward eight hours later. It was my first time in a hospital, and as I was being told that there were more checks to be done, I realised I had not even prepared any clothes or other essentials such as toiletries.
There I broke down in fear: “Oh God, why am I here? What happens if it turns out to be positive?”
I had to go through two doors before I could enter my room. And as I was placed in an isolation ward, I couldn’t leave until I was officially discharged.
I received items through a “collection hatch”. Food, medicine and hospital gowns were placed in a small cubicle, which had a door that opened when I waved my hand.
I felt so lonely and isolated from everyone. In panic, I even caught myself saying: “I have to fight this battle alone in this isolation room.”
But I was wrong. God fought my battle, and God won the war. He went before me, He was with me – He never left me nor forsook me. I reminded myself that Jesus could empathise with me because He himself had gone through the worst suffering.
And as I clung onto God’s faithfulness, prayers started flooding in, people came to keep me company over Skype, and the medical team constantly reassured and supported me.
The most uncomfortable part of my entire stay at the NCID was the nose swab test – imagine biting onto a big piece of wasabi up while having a long cotton bud up each nostril! The nurse had to constantly reassure me throughout the uncomfortable procedure.
Each test can only be done every 24 hours, which means one has to wait for a whole day until the next test can be done. My stay was 48 hours long, and both my swabs came back as negative, concluding that it was safe for me to go home.
Life went on for everyone else in those 48 hours: They attended meetings, they got work done. But those 48 hours were an experience of a lifetime for me, where I saw the hand of God with me through it all.
As I look back, I realised it was a time when I managed to rest. I woke up when I wanted to. I slept and ate when I wanted to. I could even watch TV and Skype my friends.
The whole thing actually felt like a pause that God allowed in my life. I could simply take a break, as I learnt to depend on Him for everything.
I cannot deny that it was scary in the beginning. To have nose swabs done and to be poked by needles for blood tests… all while going through this alone in the isolation room.
But as I sat there in realisation that right by my side was a God who listens quickly, comforts gently and loves unconditionally – one who would even be willing to have his hands pierced on the Cross for a sinner like myself – it reminded me of the hope that I can hold on to, in the brightest days and the darkest nights.
Ultimately, it is assuring to know that it is by grace that I have been saved, through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Life is truly a gift from God. This life that I live is not for myself, but only for Him!
The writer’s name has been changed for confidentiality.
As of February 17, 12pm, out of 77 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Singapore, 18 have been linked to the cluster at Grace Assembly of God. This includes the senior pastor of the church, Rev Dr Wilson Teo. We ask that you keep the church in your prayers.
THINK + TALK
- When is the last time you found yourself in a situation where you felt very alone? How did you cope?
- What if there was really a God who loves you and is well-acquainted with suffering?
- Would you like to accept Jesus into your life as your hope and healer? He offers you the free gift of eternal life.