My 84 year-old father has Parkinson’s and degenerative arthritis in addition to heart disease, diabetes, and other medical issues. He is a fall risk and fell quite a bit. I was working with my parents on getting help, but could only do so much without their permission. They are fiercely independent. Over the summer, I said to a friend, “My worst fear is that my dad will fall, break a hip, and end up exposed to COVID-19”. Two months later, my worst fear did indeed come true.
My father, who has been through so much medically, was staying safe prior to falling and breaking his hip. No one was allowed in my parents’ house. They did not go anywhere but to the doctor’s office. Neither mom nor dad liked this, but they wanted to stay safe. Then Dad fell, needed surgery, and went to a rehabilitative hospital to recover. When we got the first phone call that there was COVID in the facility, we were hopeful that their safety protocols would keep him safe…..but we continued to get call after call, day after day, on more cases diagnosed. Last Monday, we were told he was having what looked like “focal seizures” and would be awake, but unresponsive and he was rushed to the ER. It turned out he had sepsis from a lack of cleaning of his catheter, had a mass of blood clots on his bladder, and he was positive for COVID-19. To say my heart broke into a million pieces is not an exaggeration. The worst part is not being able to see him. The last time I saw my dad was on October 1. We had plans to see him the following weekend for a 15 minute outside visit when it was canceled due to quarantine. The numbers of COVID cases in my hometown is on the rise and all hospitals halted visiting hours. At first, we were able to FaceTime, but that soon stopped because they were limiting people allowed in and out of patient rooms. We talked to dad daily. He complained about the catheter, but without being there, we didn’t know how to advocate for him other than placing multiple phone calls to his nurses. It was hard to tell what was going on at the rehab. According to my dad, no one was there to help him.
Now my dad is fighting for his life. His amazing nursing staff and doctors are dressed head to toe in hazmat suits. A nurse named Tony (thank you Tony) admitted he is technologically impaired, but he would track down someone to allow us to see my dad via FaceTime. We hadn’t spoken to my dad in days, but it was almost more painful to see him. To see how weak he is now. To see my mother’s heartbreak as she spoke to him…..let’s just say that I am beyond crushed, but trying to stay strong for both of my parents. It’s so very, very hard.
Then I look at social media and see people, including family members, stating that they bet the pandemic will no longer be a news issue on 11/4 (after US presidential election). That wearing a face mask is just political tool and it doesn’t work. Those that follow science are sheep. I see friends and family out at their children’s sporting events and no one is wearing a mask. I even saw that Dodger, who knew he was COVID positive, out on the field hugging his teammates. I know the majority of people will survive the virus. I know many people will never show symptoms. I also know the fact that people, who believe this is all a hoax, are the reason my dad is suffering alone right now.
As a person living with the chronic illness, I was nervous about the virus but I was scared for my parents. I tried so very hard to protect them. Now I am angry. My dad, like thousands of others, did not deserve this to happen to them. I feel so very helpless and in shock over this situation. I can’t see him, I can’t talk to him. I can only beg his nurses to tell him how loved he is by my mom and myself. I’ve never felt so numb and so angry at the same time.
I am not an epidemiologist, scientist, or doctor, but I am smart enough to listen to them and not politicians, memes or people who are politically motivated.
This is my plea to ask people to start thinking about others. Wear masks, socially distance, avoid social gatherings, stay home. If the worst thing happening in your life is you can’t go to a bar or restaurant, then you are lucky. We are all tired of this pandemic. We all want our normal back. I believe I can also safely say, we all want our families safe. Please, please, please be cautious. Please think of others. Please pray for my dad and my family.