‘I’ve Tested Positive’ My Husband Said—How One Wife Found Bravery When COVID-19 Hit Her Home

Yesterday, my husband Andrew went to the doctor. He had a mild fever, and occasional cough. In ordinary times, he would have just pushed through. But these are no ordinary times.

He had flown into Singapore two days earlier from the United States where three of our four children are living. He had no fever on arriving into Singapore’s Changi airport, which has tight measures in place to identify who could be infected with COVID-19. But when he woke up yesterday, unusually tired from jet lag, I suggested he may want to take his temperature. This is not something I’d ask, or even think of, in other times. But again, these are no ordinary times.

He had a mild fever. He laid low but as the day wore on, his throat grew sore and head began throbbing. I was out at the time, but encouraged him to get a test. I am glad I did. Six hours later he messaged me. “I have tested positive.” Within hours he was in an isolation room in one of Singapore’s large public hospitals. He is now also receiving antibiotics for a suspect, yet “inconclusive,” dark spot on his left lung identified in an X-ray.

Andrew is a healthy guy who exercises regularly and takes good care of himself. In fact he’s about as fit and strong as any 53 year old I know. And I am very confident that his immune system will fight off this virus and that he will make a full return to strong health. I’m also confident that he’s getting excellent care equal, or better to, any in the world in the midst of this pandemic. So as I write this now, I am grateful to be living in Singapore, a country that responded to the coronavirus outbreak swiftly and decisively, putting in place comprehensive protocols to contain its spread in Singapore’s densely urban population. All of which have proven to be highly effective.

In fact before I even heard from my husband that he had tested positive, I received a call from Singapore’s Ministry of Health. Where are you? At home. Do not leave your homeNo one is to leave your home. My son Ben and I are now under a strict 14 day quarantine order. Violating it would not only mean losing my employment pass, but also a $10,000 fine and six months in jail. I’ve no quarrel with this. This virus is not one to be messed with.

I’m a relatively resilient person. I’ve had to deal with a lot of setbacks and heartaches throughout my life. In recent years I’ve also dealt with immense disruption as our family has been relocated, and dispersed across the globe, with my husband’s employer. Having three children (aged 16, 20 and 22) living 10,000 miles from me at a time like this had already left me unsettled. Having my income reduced to near zero, as events have cancelled en masse, has also caused me some anxiety. So you might say that my “coping coffers” were already running on low when I got that message yesterday. “I have tested positive.”

Not one to be stoic when I feel like crying, I rang my three sisters and did just that. Then I messaged a few close friends to let them know. Within hours I felt like I was being enveloped by a virtual “group hug” from friends and family living around the world.

Then today I decided to share my news in two Facebook live videos (two, because a friend called midway through the first one). That virtual hug just grew firmer. Within hours friends in Singapore were dropping care baskets at my front door. Flowers. Scented candles. Art supplies, bread, cereal, wine, chocolates, gourmet nibbles, more wine (they know me well), even a very large leg of lamb which my 6’3” meat-loving son Ben held to his chest lovingly and, injecting much needed lightness to the moment, declared, “We should get quarantined more often, mum.”

Ben, a senior at Singapore American School, is missing his spring break. Originally, he was headed to Bali with friends. When those plans cancelled a few weeks ago, he designated himself “Chief Activities Coordinator.” But even his friends are now feeling reticent to venture too far from home.

This is, after all, no ordinary spring break.

It is no ordinary anything.

As I shared in the videos I filmed on day one of my quarantine today (which you can view here and here), while we are all being asked to practice social distancing, the better term is physical distancing. Because right now we need to be socially more connected than ever before. We need to reach out to people, to share how we’re feeling, to ask how they’re doing, and to lift them up the best way we can. As research shows, acts of kindness aren’t just good for others, they give our own immune systems a shot of love.

It may not feel like it right now, but these dark days won’t last forever. This crisis will pass. As Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott shared in a message to Marriott employees posted to LinkedIn:

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