So myself and my immediate family have a differing viewpoint. I’m a special education teacher. I’m exposed to students and colleagues daily. In the Fall, 2020, our school district chose to go back to in-person learning. I was happy about that, but I also had colleagues and friends with Covid, some more ill than others. I had colleagues who lost older family members – aunts, uncles, parents. We masked up all year, and then we had the opportunity to get vaccinated. I was a little back and forth and tried to read as many studies as I could find about the vaccine. In the end, I got my first shot in February, 2021 and the second one in March. I recently got a booster shot.
My husband and children have chosen to remain unvaccinated for now. Their spouses had no choice unless they wanted to choose a new career. Fast forward to October 15, 2021. My husband and I decide to visit our grandchildren in Iowa to watch our granddaughter play volleyball. We had a wonderful time, but I saw only two people all day with masks on. On the drive home Sunday, I had one of those moments thinking about the weekend, the fun, and the hope that comes with finding a “normal” moment in the midst of this pandemic. This was followed by a brief moment of – uh, oh, what is about to happen? I made myself push that thought away. Wednesday, October 20th, my husband is ill with a slight fever and cough. It’s not hard to jump to conclusions. The next day, he has body aches. I start wearing a mask in my own home. I know I’m vaccinated, but I don’t want to have anything to do with this virus! I open windows when I’m home, spray Lysol (That extra-large can I bought at Costco finally comes in handy!), and clean surfaces in the common areas. I finally convince him to take an at-home Covid test on Saturday, because I want to see my family who are in town. He’s positive. As it turns out, my extended family members find out that same morning that they had been exposed the previous Sunday (oh, Iowa), and they get tested and are negative. Since we are all vaccinated, we decide to spend time together anyway. None of us have become ill.
It’s Tuesday, the 26th, and Hubby continues to cough. It’s sounding worse as the days go by. I continue to go to work, masked up and symptom-free, per health department guidelines. (We are all wearing masks at school at this point anyway. I’ve been wearing masks all year, except the first week of school, because of my unvaccinated, pregnant daughter.) I had also contacted our family physician to find out what can be done for Hubby as the cough continues to worsen. She suggests monoclonal antibody treatment. I call home to see what the patient thinks about that. He says he’ll research. That evening, we both take an at-home test. I’m negative. He’s still positive.
Wednesday morning, in the midst of coughing miserably, Hubby decides that maybe he should try to get the monoclonal antibody treatment. I drive to my own appointment downtown and call our doctor’s office while I wait. As it turns out, you have 10 days from the time symptoms start to get the treatment. We are on day 8. The nurse will call the treatment center and get the ball rolling. I complete my own quick appointment and call Hubby back. I ask him what his blood oxygen level reads, and he is unable to tell me that 91 is ninety-one. Okay, I’m on my way home.
Background: Hubby had a random brain hemorrhage at age 45. He was healthy, and after extensive testing, the doctors were unable to explain the cause. He also has silent migraines (neurological symptoms but no headache pain), so I’ve been down this road several times. I drive him to the hospital with the windows rolled down, him in the backseat, and both of us masked up. In the ER, they send him to one place and myself to another. I know this happens, yet when it happens to you, it’s still slightly shocking. Hubby tries to text me later, but now his hand isn’t working either. I call him and the conversation is difficult. Blood work, Covid test, CT scan, and MRI happen. The good news is that he hasn’t suffered a stroke. They keep him overnight and diagnose him with acute encephalopathy (Covid brain fog).
Thursday, I am trying to figure out what is going on. I’m not allowed to visit, and I know the nurses and doctors are busy with patients much more ill than Hubby. I know that he has been given a dose of heparin and Remdesevir. I know he was on oxygen briefly. I know he’s having difficulty communicating what he needs from the nurses. It is difficult for me to be reached at school as my office is also a tornado shelter. I finally touch base with the doctor about 4:30. The doctor is kind and explains what has been happening. He asks me several times whether the speech/cognitive impairment is Hubby’s baseline. No, it’s not. It’s why I brought him in, not the coughing. Hubby is actually on the list to get the monoclonal antibody treatment but hasn’t returned the call (voicemail) from the clinic. I call Hubby and tell him to call the clinic (and so do I) and by 4:50, he has an appointment for Friday, Day 10. He also has to be an outpatient to get the treatment, so I need to pick Hubby up from the hospital!
Friday, the infusion itself takes 20 minutes, but he has to lay there for an hour afterward. It’s a nice day, so I read a book and wait in the car. The cough has slowly been decreasing since the treatment. Hubby sleeps a lot and his oxygen level hovers around 90-93. Occasionally we check it, and it’s 89. So far, we haven’t had to make an emergency trip to the ER but walking up stairs leaves him breathing hard. I’m hoping he’s not contagious any longer. It’s been 18 days. I still wear a mask when I’m in the same room, but that’s really in an abundance of caution. I haven’t seen my daughter in-person for awhile, so I like to keep myself as healthy as possible, in case I have that opportunity.
The road to recovery from this illness can be a long one. Many of the people I know personally have a lower level of energy months later. It can take months to recover normal oxygen levels. Hubby’s brain function is still impaired and conversations take time. Covid changes lives, and not just the life of the patient. I know there are people who believe this is just like the flu. I assure you it is not. I know there are people who believe this only affects older adults. I assure that is not true. I know of a young couple who lost their newborn. I know elementary-aged children who have had it and so have their parents. Some of those young parents have not survived.
I have no answers. Someone asked me if Hubby will get vaccinated now. We haven’t discussed it. We have fought over the vaccines, and he is living with the consequences of his choice. It will be interesting to see if he changes his mind. We are not promised tomorrow and God has a plan for our family, vaccinated or not.
Psalm 139:14-16 (NIV) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.