When the announcement was made about a new, aggressive virus strain that had descended on the world, we were as confused and skeptical as anyone. We knew that every year a different strain of the flu arrives and takes its toll on the most vulnerable. We had taken our turn, like most, with each flu and have obviously weathered all of them, with little difficulty. I do remember that the H3N2 flu of 2018 was particularly hard on me, and it caused me to cough for 4 weeks solid, but usually flus are just a weeklong inconvenience. Although the numbers are hard to estimate, the death rate for seasonal flus, hovers around 12,000 to 60,000 each year in the U.S. The mortality rate is around 0.1%. The Coronavirus is said to be 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu.
My husband tested positive for Covid on November 21. I tested positive 4 days later, the day before Thanksgiving. We are generally healthy, are on no medications and exercise daily. I was a bit concerned for my husband; who’s lungs were compromised when living in Chicago during one of the coldest winters on record. Although that was 40 years ago, he still has a chronic cough that lasts for months, every winter. On November 20th, our quarantine began. Our symptoms started out slow, with both of us experiencing very similar symptoms, but mine occurring a few days after Rick’s. We both had a headache, which came and went for days, we had foggy brain and foggy vision, almost appearing like the house was smokey. After a few days, our sinuses went from perfectly clear, to instantly clogged and inflamed in a matter of minutes, stayed congested for days, and then again, instantly cleared up. We had slight nausea and we were exhausted, without the energy to do anything, except sit in our recliners watching tv. We both had no fevers, although many people do. Trying to read was a chore, as I couldn’t focus my brain or eyes. We also had severe body aches. We discovered that the aches were where injuries had taken place in the past, so his aches were in different areas of the body than mine. We both lost our sense of smell and taste, which 3 months later have not fully returned.
The worse part was the inflammation in our bodies, and breathlessness. We would feel short of breath, which would result in coughing. For any of you with asthma, you know how that feels. As we suspected might happen, Rick felt the chest tightness worse and was prescribed Steroids for his lungs and antibiotics to prevent Pneumonia. We also tried many supplements and home remedies. After 3 weeks, we felt 75% better, although still worn out. Now at 12 weeks, we feel 90% better, hoping no organs were impacted long term.
Several of our kids have gotten Covid, with symptoms no worse than a mild flu. Then, as the hope of a vaccine was in sight, around the 1st of January, both of our fathers were infected. although states apart, my dad in California, and Rick’s dad living here in Twin Falls. My dad, age 94, was in great health when he got it, no underlying conditions, except high blood pressure, which was fine with medication. He was mentally sharp, the life of the party at his care center, living there since 2014, after my mom passed away. One day he had to leave the protection of the care center to have some dental work done. Within days he was complaining of cold-like symptoms. He didn’t seem bad at first, and unfortunately, my brothers could not see him, due to restrictions. They called daily to check up on him and was told he was doing fine. After a week, he wasn’t answering his phone. My brother, Jim, contacted the facility and to find out how dad was doing, only to be told, “He’s fine”. Jim wanted to speak to the director and called several times, with no response. Finally, the director called back, after leaving work, and said dad was doing fine. Within hours, the care center called to tell Jim that our dad had been taken to the hospital, non-responsive, in kidney failure and with pneumonia. Dad regained consciousness, and rallied for a week, and then left this world to be with his sweetheart. My brothers couldn’t visit him, until the day he was passing, when the hospital called to tell Jim he should come to say goodbye. He rushed over there but by the time he arrived 10 minutes later, Dad was gone. It seemed like a cruel trick. There could be no funeral, just a small gravesite service with only a few people and a priest, that was face-timed so I and my oldest brother could “attend”.
During the same time, Rick’s dad, who is 85, also took a turn for the worse and was hospitalized, with severe inflammation, excessive blood clotting caused by the virus, and trouble breathing. His oxygen levels were down and so he was put on oxygen, blood thinners, antibiotics and steroids for his lungs. We were so fearful that we would lose both dads at the same time. I strangely felt a little cheated, because I wasn’t able to grieve my own father, and now had to be more concerned with my father-in-law. I felt guilty and was so glad when he started showing improvement and was finally released from the hospital, very weak and still on oxygen. After 4 weeks, he is still on oxygen at night, but much better.
Sometimes I am angry or depressed with this Covid experience. I am an impatient person and so the whole lockdown, illness and quarantine, restrictions, and especially my father’s death frustrates me. I try to look at the positives that have also taken place. My husband and I have enjoyed being together, did in no way get sick of each other and finished a lot of projects including, remodeling our kitchen, building a murphy bed, and decluttering. We’ve taken boxes and boxes of stuff we thought we needed, but realized we didn’t, to Goodwill. Another positive is that our world has become smaller, but sweeter with our family. We have cooked some masterpieces and I’ve learned how to play Chess!
The other night I had a dream. I was with my dad. My brothers and their wives were standing in the background watching. I realized in the dream that we were there to say goodbye, as my dad would be leaving. He and I embraced and clung onto each other, softly crying. I could smell his flannel shirt and feel the texture of it. We eventually released our grip, and I kissed him and told him that I loved him, and he awkwardly said it back, like he had learned to do in the last 5 years. As we parted, I could see the tears in my family’s eyes as well, and felt the love. I was sad in my dream, but I was not sad when I awoke, because I got to see my dad again and finally say goodbye.
Many are having similar experiences. My heart goes out to you and know that you are not alone and we will get through this. Keep loving and learning.