This is Post 4 of a 31-Day Blogging Challenge hosted by the Ultimtate Blog Challenge.
This is hard to write for many reasons. A big part of why it’s hard to write is that there are still, a year and a half into this thing, people who believe that the pandemic is a big hoax and who are shirking all responsibility when it comes to reducing the spread to allow top scientists to get ahead of it.
It’s also hard becasue I have so much anger surrounding the non-challance of individuals when it comes to the virus.
I lead my daughter’s Girl Scouts troop. Going into the 2021-2022 year, we have about 20 girls ranging from first grade to seventh grade. When COVID first started up, We were a K-5 troop, and had 22 girls. We were in the middle of cookie season. I’d already had my antennea up because my physician friend was starting to post about it a lot.
As soon as we had our first local case, I cancelled our cookie booths. A few hours later, council came down with a decision that we needed to stop in-person meetings for the time being. In the weeks that followed, the elementary school my now-2nd grader attended shut down and my oldest, a college student, came home. That was March.
Mid-April, we were masking and pretty much only sending my husband out on errands. On paper, he and myself had the highest risk. I never get just a little bit sick. I get, “oh crap, we need to go to the ER” because I can’t breathe sick. I was also quite concerned about the college student since in January he was sick enough with a mystery respiratory illness to go to the hospital four times.
So, we weren’t doing a whole lot and we weren’t taking any chances. We were doing some curbside pickups – we hadn’t yet added Miss #5 into the family, but even still with a 21, 6, 4, and 3 year old, you can imagine that sometimes you just don’t want to cook. Especially when everyone is working/learning from home and trying to juggle that. It was still the phase where we weren’t sure about transmission (though that physician friend had mentioned masks were important, so we were sanitizing everything that came into the house.
Then one night in mid-April, the big kid had insisted on buying dinner for us. He researched and chose a restaurant that had curbside pickup. I kept saying I wasn’t sure, that it was easier to quarantine just one adult, and that he didn’t get just a little sick. But he convinced me and I gave my okay – it was, after all, curbside right?
Only, it wasn’t. He and my husband were gone longer than I expected. The restaurant wasn’t actually offering curbside pickup. They were making customers come in. Not only that, they messed up the order. Rather than choose to go through something with fewer contact points, because he’d already paid over the phone, he went in. And he waited. He had a mask on – though it was a carpentry mask, because that’s what we had at the time.
The person waiting with him was unmasked. The person waiting with him wasn’t keeping distance. The person waiting with him started to complain and said “I don’t want to go to my job later tonight because I’m scared; my coworker tested positive for the virus this morning.”
When I heard this when they got home, I fell apart. We’d been careful, but obviously not careful enough. My husband and son took showers while I wiped down everything and replated everything and sanitized the counters where the bags had been sat, and then washed my hands.
He was getting ready for finals, so he spent most of his time in his room or in the basement media room doing his classes and lessons online. The only time he spent with the family was dinner, and then in the late night he would come downstairs and sit with me while I’d work. He also spent a lot of time with his kindergartener sister.
About a week later, the big kid mentioned having a sore throat. I’d had windows open a lot, because with everyone home, the housecleaning stepped up a good bit, and so I was attributing it to seasonal allergies. There was no fever. There was no hacking cough. A couple days later, my eyes started to itch terribly, and again, I figured it was allergies. Then the fatigue hit.
He slept a long time two days in a row. I chalked it up to him pushing himself hard for finals and perhaps eating too many Girl Scouts cookies. Then my crushing fatigue came. I figured it was stress and trying to homeschool on the fly, having everyone home, and me trying to keep up with client work. Then, a few days later, my big kid looked really bad.
His skin had a grayish tint, he complained of stomach distress, and to be honest, I started looking up “high blood sugar” because the cookie monster was eating TONS of cookies. The last thing I thought was “COVID-19.” Through that day, he looked worse and worse, and then he mentioned he was short of breath. I had him use his asthma inhaler. I started to worry.
The next day, we took him to the ER for what would be the first in I’ve lost how many visits to the hospital. He was significantly short of breath and had a nasty cough. They sent him home saying it was just his asthma. They didn’t test him because it was early in the pandemic and they didn’t think young adults could get it. Nevertheless, we quarantined him to his room, which conveniently had a bathroom right next to it. I began the ritual of sanitizing the whole hallway and not allowing the younger kids down that hallway. He began wearing a mask any time he would leave his room and he would have his window open for ventillation.
The next day, he got worse. He fainted. I unmasked him and unscarf-around-my-faced myself to prepare for CPR. It was unnecessary. He regained consciousness, I remasked him, my husband rushed him to the hospital again. This time they did an x-ray of his lungs, tested him from COVID, and assigned him a state monitor before sending him home again. They diagnosed him with COVID that night.
I’m still surprised they sent him home. The third night, we didn’t have an ER trip, but the fourth, his blood pressure began spiking scary high. We took him in again, they thought he might have a stroke – thakfully, he didn’t, but they gave him even more medications.
A few weeks later, he’d improved enough to come out of quarantine. I was still pretty sick myself, though I didn’t go to the hospital. My symptoms largely manifested as extreme fatigue, extreme muscle and joint pain, and lots of brain fog. Those symptoms stayed with me until my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
A week after coming out of quarantine, the big kid had a fever again. He went to get tested again – that test took 3 weeks to process and came back “inconclusive” meaning that the virus died before they ran the test, but it was there, just dead. By the time we got those results back it was clear he needed further medical care. He still wasn’t doing great, his oxygen kept dropping, and his blood pressure kept spiking.
He had another hospital trip in September, then another in October. We had two in December, then January, then he had a seizure in February followed by a second seizure. They hospitalized him then. His various systems kept failing – lungs were damaged so he needed a pulmonologist. Heart was damaged so he needed a cardiologist. Brain seemed to have something strange going on, so he needed a neurologist. Then they discovered his liver enzymes were way out of whack. Several more tests and they discovered his gall bladder, thanks to the damage from the virus, was failing. March came and he got his Pfizer vaccine dose one. He had a strong reaction to it. But, his blood pressure stopped spiking. An appointment was made for the gall bladder removal, he got his second vaccine dose and his oxygen stopped falling.
Then May hit. I gave birth to baby #5 early due to preeclampsia. We knew it might happen that I would develop it again as I had developed it when pregnant with my 4 year old. It was the end of a long pregnancy with lots of bed rest. Baby 5 had a brief NICU stay due to her having low blood sugar. We got home just to have to take the big kid to the hospital again. He wasn’t doing well again. They admitted him and he had emergency gall bladder surgery.
After a slow and rough recovery, he is now fine. He’s moved to go to graduate school. He graduated college.
I, however am not quite so fine. It’s hard to talk about the journey we’ve been through – largely alone. Because he was so fragile, we didn’t do much of anything outside of our house. For 14 months. I’ll be honest, I’m having a rough time getting back to normal. I was starting to do things – masked even with being vaccinated. But now here’s Delta, and my pandemic-dread is back.
So how are you all doing?