A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Covid-19

“We are living through an unprecedented time in human history”.

New York State Senate Covid-19 Update, March 2020

As this global pandemic wreaks its havoc on the world, I feel certain that books are already being written about the corona virus, covid-19. The world reels as its health care delivery systems and its economies go into free-fall. As I reflect on my own experience of covid-19, I recognise that my personal world has been profoundly affected by this virus. I will try to tell my story with as much accuracy as possible, even though the time lines have remained very blurred in my mind.

It started on 18 March 2020 when my daughter-in-law’s father was found dead at home. He had been a basically healthy senior citizen and his seemingly sudden death was a shock to everyone. Ultimately, a few days later, the autopsy report indicated the presence of the virus, and the death certificate lists the cause of death as covid-19. In retrospect, the virus symptoms of weakness, cough and congestion were all too clear.

My saga started just a day and a half later, with my husband’s illness. On 20 March he began experiencing profound weakness, accompanied by a fever. I called 911 in a bit of a panic, not even thinking that his symptoms could be caused by this deadly new virus. I just had faith that the Emergency Department would be able to correct my husband’s weakness with some intravenous fluids. About six hours later, he was home. He still did not feel good but the fluids had helped a bit. We hunkered down to self-quarantining, just in case his lab test proved positive for this unknown virus. As my scenario unfolded, I had no idea that my other son and his wife were also very ill with this covid-19.

A few hours later, my personal narrative began, and here is where time morphed into itself for me. I couldn’t keep track of what day it was, what time it was, or even whether it was day or night. It started with generalised body aches and pains accompanied by profound weakness and waves of nausea with abdominal pain. All I could do was moan and clutch my belly hoping the spasms and the nausea would pass. A walk down the hall to the bathroom was tantamount to a Himalayan trek and just as exhausting. Meanwhile, my husband was getting worse. He was coughing, and his congestion exacerbated. We would sleep, moan, cough, and pray for delivery from the clutches of this virus, an unseen monster which moved with incredible speed. It was as if we were the stars of a third-rate monster movie which had become all too real. I do recall that at one point, I called 911 for myself because of the severe abdominal pain. My doctor said I would need a CAT scan in order to determine the cause of the persistent, unwavering abdominal pain. Since I have a history of diverticulitis, an inflammation of the colon, I was hoping that this was just a recurrence and antibiotics would be a quick fix. Wrong. The CAT scan was negative and the ER doctor affirmed that these symptoms were indicative of covid-19. I received some pain medication as well as medication for the nausea. Since I was in no respiratory distress, I was sent home, awaiting the results of my own lab test.

My nausea and abdominal pain continued. Marty’s weakness and congestion continued. We drifted in and out of awareness. At one point, I clearly recall acknowledging that we were dying. I felt so sad for our son, Sean, who had become our caregiver. I remember thinking that it would be hard for him to find us both gone. Then, a barrage of concerns flooded through me. I don’t know if these thoughts evolved slowly or just tumbled out of my consciousness.

Will Sean find the checkbook?

Do my children all know how much I love them and how proud I am of the adults they have become?

Will my grandchildren remember me, and will they know they have brought me much joy?

Will my family know how blessed I have been to have been their sister, their aunt, their cousin?

Do my friends know I love them?

I wish I had finished my memoir.

Lord, I am as ready as I will ever be. But, it all happened so fast! I wish I had more time to process my dying. I am glad I am dying with Marty next to me.

All these thoughts tumbled through my brain somewhere in the midst of these past two weeks. I vaguely recall the kindness of friends who delivered food to keep us strong. Then, one morning, I became more awake and realised we were both still alive.

Today is 4 April 2020, the last day of my quarantine, and I am certain that neither my husband nor I would have survived without Sean here as our caregiver. I am so grateful he never came down with symptoms of the virus. Actually, it is still all rather hazy in my brain, and I am trying to process the entire debacle. As I had said, time morphed in on itself and it is hard to recall specifics. It was a horrific experience, a personal nightmare which has been shared by so many in the world.

There is still a long road to recovery ahead for all of us as we try to regain strength and equilibrium. I also want to spend some time processing all of those concerns I had when I was certain I was going to die.   


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