Lunch Actually CEO Shares Her Optimism Despite Battle Against Covid-19 Diagnosis

Testing positive for Covid-19 would be truly scary experience for most Singaporeans, especially since new community clusters have been uncovered.

But how many of us are prepared to make the most out of a diagnosis? What does testing positive for Covid-19 actually mean behind-the-scenes in Singapore?

Case 667 – aka Ms Violet Lim – gave us a glimpse of what it’s like to overcome the great obstacle, and then some.

Her cheery disposition and positive mindset was on clear display as she detailed her day-by-day experience in her battle with the virus which has upended her job as CEO of Lunch, Actually & her family life.

Here’s her inspiring post in full, we summarise her story below.

Part I of her full post is continued here.

She’s also posted a second update available here.

Suspected case at NCID

On Thursday (2 Apr), Violet Lim – CEO of Lunch Actually – shared her journey as a Covid-19 patient through a series of Facebook posts.

While she initially panicked, the optimistic and experienced health care workers at NCID helped her face one of her toughest battles.

Symptoms like “throbbing headache” & breathing difficulties

Her journey began on 25 Mar, when Ms Lim woke up with a throbbing headache and experienced minor breathing difficulties.

This was despite following precautionary measures like maintaining personal hygiene, avoiding large crowds, working offsite from her office & even cancelling her 40th birthday celebrations.

After explaining her situation to her children, she went for an examination with her general practitioner and was referred to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) for Covid-19 testing.

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While it felt like her world was ending, Ms Lim was surprised to find that doctors and nurses remained upbeat and positive.

Nose swab for Covid-19 was indeed uncomfortable

You may have heard other accounts from Covid-19 patients that the nose swab test is extremely uncomfortable.

Ms Lim confirmed that this was true in her post as well. She described a long cotton bud poked into both her nostrils, which resulted in her tearing up.

But her tests were quickly concluded when her X-ray was finished. She was allowed to go home and wait for her results. If they were positive, they’d call her within 24 hours. If not, she’d receive a text detailing negative results.

Unexpected diagnosis of case 667

Safe to say, most of us have done everything we can to avoid the coronavirus, but sometimes life takes a different turn than we’d expect.

The next day, Ms Lim was told the test results that sealed her fate,

Madam Violet Lim, I am calling from NCID. I would like to inform you that your test result is positive.

The surprise left her momentarily speechless, as the concerned healthcare worker followed-up with her over the phone,

Madam Violet, are you there? Are you ok?

The NCID employee then reassured her that everything was going to be fine. An ambulance would pick her up within 2 hours so she was advised to pack essentials.

As chaos ensued, she signaled to her husband by tracing a “positive symbol”. Time seemed to stop as both of them felt stunned.

Fortunately, the couple was also able to pack hurriedly and explain the situation to their kids. Her family made plans to get tested soon and she waited for the ambulance.

Kind ambulance driver

Mr Nasir – a 64-year-old ambulance driver – was clad in full PPE suit to pick her up.

At first, he was apologetic because they had to maintain a 1-metre distance from each other, but she assured him it was fine.

During the short drive, Ms Lim learned that the dedicated driver had 6 grandchildren. Despite his age, he continued to drive suspected and confirmed patients since the outbreak began to do his part.

Mr Nasir must’ve felt that she was nervous, because he told her funny stories to ease the tension.

Meeting the doctor

Shortly after, she was escorted to Ward 5F as she processed the events from the past day.

After a friend messaged her, Ms Lim found out that she matched the description of Case 667.

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An hour after her confinement, a healthcare worker – dubbed as “Dr. A” – walked into the ward and brightened up the room her optimism.

She told Ms Lim,

“You are Violet right? Once I saw you from the outside, I recognised you. I remember reading about you in Straits Times. I was thinking to myself – Wah, so entrepreneurial!”

For starters, Ms Violet Lim is the founder of Lunch Actually which is Singapore’s first lunch dating agency.

The doctor’s bubbly personality instantly made Ms Lim feel hopeful.

Safe distancing helped to minimise her direct contacts

The kind doctor explained that it would take up to three weeks of recovery until she could potentially test negative for the virus.

Next, she was contacted by NCID staff for contact tracing. During the call, she explained that she travelled to the US in early March and arrived in Singapore on 13 Mar. While there was no 14-day stay home notice for returnees at that time, she responsibly practiced self-quarantine and stayed in her home.

The short list of direct contacts was her husband, child, and helper.

She began offsite work arrangements since mid-February. As a result, she thankfully did not have direct contact with office mates and clients.

Recovering with husband

On the same day, Ms Lim found that her husband – Jamie – also tested positive for the virus.

She witnessed him walk past her in the hospital. Sadly, they were separated by double-layered doors as she fully understood the painful weight of the words, “so near yet so far”.

On the bright side, she received a positive message the day after.

Her husband messaged,

They are trying to arrange for us to be in the same room!

The reunited couple then began their daily routine of getting screened three times a day for their blood pressure and heart rate. Once they finished a meal, they received medication like cough medicine, paracetamol, and cold medicine.

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Whenever health care workers entered her room, Ms Lim observed that the staff wore various layers of PPE and continuously removed or added a layer as they entered or left various rooms.

Beyond excellent service from healthcare staff

The couple believes that the level of care they received in NCID was beyond excellent because they were always greeted with a smile.

Days later, a test result revealed that Ms Lim had below-average levels of haemoglobin so she received a blood transfusion.

Like a concerned mother, Dr. A made daily visits to the couples ward. The doctor was bothered because Ms Lim continued to manage her business.

She says,

“Can you imagine if you get your haemoglobin level to normal? You will be conquering the world!”

In addition, the dedicated doctor reminded her to take iron pills and attend follow-up checkups after her discharge.

During her stay, Ms Lim learned that a low haemoglobin level would make your heart work harder and potentially shorten your lifespan. The invaluable advice she received from Dr A was the wake-up call she needed to live a healthy lifestyle.

Hoping for the speedy recovery of Case 667

We’re still waiting for the conclusion of Ms Lim – aka Case 667’s – journey to recovery from Covid-19. On the bright side, the couple is thankful that their kids, helper, nephew, and niece have already tested negative for the coronavirus.

After their 6th day, the couple will get tested again. If they test positive, they will be moved to a recovering family. Otherwise, they will be tested again after 24 hours. Two negative results would mean that they can be discharged.

In the meantime, we’re hoping that the couple will stay safe and remain ever optimistic. Singapore is rooting for your recovery, and of course every other person who has been affected by this outbreak.

Featured image from Facebook and NCID.