This has been a trying time in our country, and in the world. A particularly virulent virus has taken lives from sea to shining sea, from coast to coast on not just this continent but on all the continents. There will be an end, I believe. But that end is not yet in sight.
From the beginning, I have shouted from the roof-tops: “Wash your hands!” I have advocated the wearing of masks, the use of hand sanitizer when a good scrub isn’t possible and keeping a reasonable distance between people. I have stayed home.
Then my father took a bad fall, and we entered one realm of Hell or other.
It’s one thing to read news stories about the effects of this pandemic, and quite another when you have to see them firsthand.
My father injured himself badly enough that my mother and I are unable to attend to him for a while. This means he had to enter a care facility where nurses, CNAs and physical therapists can help him heal and rehabilitate.
In normal times, this would mean that we could go there and visit in his room, go have lunch or dinner with him, take him for walks in his wheelchair and later, with a walker or cane. We could cheer him on in physical therapy. He could offer him reassurances, and love and hand-holding and hugs.
But, NO! These are not normal times. We look at him through a window while talking on the phone, or we do video chats. We cannot touch him, let alone hug him. We can’t sit across from him and encourage him to eat.
It’s a nightmare.
Now, I am perfectly well aware that it isn’t only our nightmare. This is happening all over the world. We’re a statistic. One case among many.
Obviously, I am not going to turn into an obnoxious, entitled bitch who demands that my father get preferential treatment, including visitors, when there’s a dangerous pandemic happening, and the lives of other residents would be in danger.
(Don’t kid yourself. I totally want to do that. That’s MY dad. And I know I’m not the only one who wants to do that; any child/spouse/parent/friend would want to go to their loved one’s bedside and be there in person to support them. But what we want and what we know is safe are, in this case, two different things.)
Here’s the thing: COVID-19 is going to be responsible for more deaths than those of patients who actually died of the virus. I don’t know how the numbers will be studied and analyzed, but they’ll need to be looked at, because I am not wrong about this.
Heart attacks, car accidents, other illnesses–they are certainly taking their toll, as they always do. But perhaps more of them are leading to the end of the line than normally happens. Things that might be overcome and survived are ending badly in more cases, and I believe that it’s because so many people are no longer allowed to have visitors while undergoing medical treatment.
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities probably have the strictest no-visiting policies, and those precautions are in place because they make good sense. Residents and patients are already at high risk.
Unfortunately, many of those high risk people are also those who have lessened abilities to understand the situation. I know my father has had it explained multiple times, and for a short period, he understands why we’re outside his window instead of by his side. But, within minutes, he repeats himself: “Why don’t you come inside? Why are you out in the wind?”
There are people all over the world right now wondering why they have no visitors, feeling lonely and deserted. This is leading to depression. And depression is a killer, friends and neighbors.
If they don’t care, why should I? What a horrible thought. Yet, I know there have been many who must have thought it, or who are thinking it now. Why should I care? Why should I try? I’m all alone. No one misses me. No one comes to see me. I give up.
I have heard those dreadful words from my father’s own mouth a few times now: “I give up.”
No! Don’t give up! Please, Dad. Keep fighting!
“I give up.”
Many have. Many more will. People need that healing touch, not from a stranger, but from those who love them the most. And they can’t get it.
That’s the cruelest reality of this pandemic. We cannot provide or receive the touch that would ultimately heal. Isolation leads to depression which leads to apathy which leads to surrender.
“I give up.”
Who is going to document those COVID-19 related deaths when the number-counters get moving? Will it even be a consideration, when things settle down at long last? Will anyone care enough to look at that data and say, “She probably would have pulled through, but no one came to see her, and she just gave up”?
I could do a lot of bitching and moaning, finger pointing and blaming, but it’s pointless and won’t change a thing. We are where we are. What is happening is going to play out, and I can only pray that people will be unselfish enough to do their part and make sure it plays out in the quickest and safest way possible.
We all know the recommendations: wash your hands; wear your mask; stay six feet apart; avoid large crowds.
In the meantime, consider my father and others like him who can’t have a loved one at their sides, rooting for them and holding their hands. Do your part to make sure this aspect of the situation can change. Wearing a mask and keeping your distance isn’t going to kill you. Refusing to do so could very well kill someone you love.
I want to hug my father. He needs to be hugged so he’ll want to keep fighting and get the hell out of there.
Seriously. Do your part. Lives are at stake. Virus patients and virus adjacent patients are all in peril.
Wash your hands and wear the damn mask.