Chong: Getting Covid-19 was ‘hell’

In good hands: Chong being tended to by Dr Lim as Dr Santha looks on.

PETALING JAYA: If there is one word that MCA Public Services and Complaints Department chief Datuk Seri Michael Chong could use to describe his experience as a Covid-19 patient, it would be “hell”.

The 72-year-old Chong had to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) on Jan 8 and remained there for 12 days, fighting the Covid-19 virus that had attacked his lungs.

Chong’s ordeal began on Dec 30 last year when he tested positive.

A few days earlier on Dec 26, Chong and some friends attended the opening of a friend’s restaurant here.

“We all followed the standard operating procedure, everyone went back happily.

“Then on Dec 29, I received a few calls from my friends who had attended the opening and they asked if I was experiencing any symptoms. I said no, I was just tired, nothing else.“On Dec 30, I got more calls and that’s when we all decided we should get tested for Covid-19, ” said Chong when contacted.

About 20 of his friends went to get tested and out of that, 18 were confirmed to be positive.

Chong was advised to seek medical treatment and on Jan 1, he was transported to Hospital Sungai Buloh for admission.

He said he was under observation for a week as he had mild symptoms.

“Suddenly, on the eighth day, my oxygen levels fell, my lungs couldn’t take it.

“That was when I realised I was really going to have it because Covid-19 had attacked me.

“I overheard doctors saying that I had to go into ICU or my chances would be zero due to my age and diabetic condition. My body system was weak, ” he said.

Chong was told that his chances of survival were “50-50”, and his family members were informed of his condition.

“I realised it was going to be hell for me, ” he said.

He said the stay in the ICU was not easy and the only thing he could do was sleep.

He could not tell if it was day or night as he was groggy most of the time, accompanied by the sounds of medical equipment and coughs from fellow patients in the ICU.

“Everything is darkness, you are not aware of what is happening. When you ask for water, there is just a small tube to wet your lips.

“Sometimes when I opened my eyes, I could see patients in body bags being wheeled out.

“I knew something was very wrong with me, ” he said.

On Jan 20, Chong was transferred to a normal ward before finally being discharged on Jan 28.

Doctors had advised him to go for rehabilitation therapy for his lungs to recover from the damage.

Chong went to a private rehabilitation centre but after a series of tests, doctors realised he needed further treatment for his lung condition.

“On Jan 31, Sunway Medical Centre took me in and I got discharged today (yesterday), ” he said.

One of the biggest lessons he learnt from his ordeal was to put his health and safety first and not feel obligated to attend any events.

Chong thanked all the frontliners, especially Dr Benedict Sim, at Hospital Sungai Buloh.

He also thanked Dr Lim Boon Khaw, a respiratory specialist at Sunway Medical Centre, as well as his physician Datin Paduka Dr Santha Kumari.

Chong hopes that the vaccination programme will begin as soon as possible in the country.

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