By Rosanna Battistelli.
On March 19, 2020, Mayret de Los Ángeles Carías,39, felt in her flesh the thin line that separates life from death. That day, a group of doctors from the Simon Bolivar General Hospital in her city, Valles del Tuy, went to her house to inform her that she had COVID-19. At that moment three words crossed her mind: Isolation, desolation, and death.
Those terms defined the images Mayret had seen on television weeks earlier: the streets of Spain empty, Italians singing from their balconies, funerals without relatives, and New York hospitals crowded with patients. There was no time to think, so she packed her bags with clothes, anxieties, and fears.
In the ambulance that minutes earlier she saw parked in front of her house, Mayret was taking to the sentinel center, a hospital designated by the Nicolas Maduro to treat infected people with Coronavirus. She was so nervous that a journey of only three minutes took forever. But she was not traveling alone; her six-year-old son was with her. There was a suspicion that he could be infected too.
Mayret de Los Angeles lived for one year and two months in Cucuta, Colombia, with her husband and son. She migrated to the neighboring country pushed by the crisis in Venezuela, and the possibility of employment in construction for her couple.
During this time, she dedicated to taking care of her home, trusting that she will return to her country, where her relatives and roots remained. That dream was fulfilled on February 19, 2020, after her husband’s employment contract expired. She arrived in Venezuela on that same day. The Maduro regime had not yet declared the mandatory quarantine.
The first two weeks at home, Mayret did not feel any physical discomfort, but the night of Sunday, March 8, she had a serious allergy, and the next day, a severe headache put her to bed from ten hours. On Tuesday, she spent the day without symptoms, then sneezed appears, and on Thursday, a recurrent cough kept her awake. On the weekend, her temperature rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
“On Sunday, I went to the hospital because I woke up with conjunctivitis and eye pain. The doctor diagnosed me with an acute respiratory infection and told me to come back on Monday to be tested for coronavirus infection, which I did. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was at home with flu but always keeping the recommended measures, such as the use of a mask and social distancing, until Thursday, when they gave me the test result, and I was admitted to the health center with my baby,” she recalls.
The fear that her son was infecting prevented Mayret from sleeping in that uncomfortable hospital bed. It was a tense two days, full of uncertainty; however, having her little boy around was an encouragement. On Saturday, March 21, the mystery cleared up: Mayret’s son tested negative.
That diagnosis was good news amid so much adversity. Mayret remembers she cried, just as she did when her husband went to look for the little boy to returning home. Now, she was left alone, locked in four white walls, in an environment still unknown, silent, and dark at night.
At the hospital in Ocumare del Tuy, Mayret said she was treated well. Her case was the first COVID-19 case registered in the Valles del Tuy, in Miranda state. There, she found out that the doctors and nurses were working with few supplies. Many times they did not have cotton; neither syringes for injections.
After a week at the sentinel center, the depression was gaining ground in Mayret’s mind. Although she felt good physically, her mood began to weaken. The thoughts that she had a deadly illness caused her to become emotionally depressed. Being alone made her anxious, so she decided to hold on to God and wait out the storm.
While she was in the hospital, Mayret carried her cell phone to keep in touch with her family. However, she stayed away from social networks. While she was facing isolation, she also suffered bullying from neighbors and other people. So, she decided to ignore social media.
The day Mayret was diagnosed with COVID-19, a photo of her with her family, and another of the front of her house was multiplied in WhatsApp groups. The accusing finger of society pointed at her mercilessly. From this social rejection, which can take you to the deepness because of its perversion, Mayret learned to put herself in the shoes of the other.
“I lived a bad time, but I don’t hold a grudge in my heart. In these situations, people should support each other, unite in prayer, be more compassionate, and not issue destructive criticisms because one does not want to be infected. More humanity is needed, especially now that we are living in a difficult situation all over the world.”
The illness also left Mayret with another lesson, live one day at a time, and never stop dreaming. “We don’t have to worry about tomorrow, but we have to live as if it were the last day, and the past must be left behind because we cannot change it,” she thinks.
The importance of family and honoring parents added to his learning suitcase. “My relatives supported me, and that was fundamental to my recovery. After all this heartache, I thanked God that it was me and not my son or mother.”
On Monday, March 29, a doctor who traveled from the city of Caracas to the Valles del Tuy gave Mayret a quick test, one of those that had just arrived in the country. The result was negative, however, she had to wait for the result of the PCR, till the following Wednesday. That day, they confirmed that she was cured.
In the same ambulance that Mayret was taken to the sentinel center, she returned home. The warmth that enveloped her in her home showed her that the family is irreplaceable, and the hug of her mother filled her soul and served to push aside her fears.
Today, Mayret continues to pray that the pandemic over soon. She doesn’t know if she is immune to COVID-19, but she says that, in the process of surviving the deadly and incurable disease, her mind created a defense system to block out bad thoughts.
Today she feels more confident, aware of the need to take it easy, and, above all, to take care of her health. When she looks in the mirror, she sees a new woman.