Most of my posts are normally researched with source material because I want to make sure the points that I make are backed by empirical data. This post, however, is more personal. It is because COVID was in my home and struck someone that I love dearly, my mom.
August 14, 2021 was a very frightful night. I was helping to produce a stream that was doing a fundraiser for a non-profit of which I am a member. Towards the end of the broadcast, my niece comes to my room and tells me that my mother is feeling faint and having difficulty breathing. I told the other producer what was going on, and that I had to go. He told me not to worry and to go do what I had to do.
I went to her bedroom to investigate the matter. She was disjointed in her speech and had a hard time focusing. I told her that we needed to call 911 but she did not want to. I said, “Okay, let’s call the nurse and report your symptoms. If they say go to the hospital, will you go?” She agreed and I went to contact the on call nurse assigned to my mom’s doctor. As I went over her symptoms and also informed them she tested positive for COVID about a week earlier, they advised me to contact the paramedics and have her taken to the ER.
When the paramedics got to my home, they did their normal triaging and then transferred my mother to the ambulance to take her to the ER. I asked if I could ride along because my mother told me she did not want to be by herself. They agreed and allowed me to stay by her side. When we got to the ER, she was immediately transferred to an isolation room that was pressurized to keep her infection from spreading.
We stayed in that room for hours. During that time, she was examined by medical staff, x-rayed, and had blood drawn for further tests. The lab results showed that COVID was still present and she’d developed pneumonia from the infection.
Close to 5:00 AM, my mom was moved from the pressurized room in the ER to a floor dedicated to treating COVID infected patients. I walked up to the floor with the orderly. Once I got to the floor, I decided to peer through the doors of the patients’ rooms. I noticed most of the patients were elderly. As I moved through the hallway, I was stopped by one of the nurses. She told me family was not allowed on the floor. I was immediately flooded with emotions. Anger, sadness, and grief overwhelmed me all at once.
My mom does not want to be alone!
What if something happens to her and I am not here?
You can’t make me leave her!
Don’t make me go, please…
All of these feelings and sentiments were running through my head. I gathered myself enough to ask pertinent questions like who was going to be the attending doctor and how I could get in touch with my mother. The charge nurse gave me the information I requested and, with much chagrin, I said goodbye to my mother.
I did not go home right away. I sat in the lobby for a while, called my partner and cried on the phone. I asked him why they made me leave her. How could they do such a thing? I wasn’t just angry at the nurse that made me leave, I was angry at the whole situation. My mom did everything that she was supposed to do. She stayed at home mostly. She wore a mask when she was in public. She got vaccinated even though she was not too keen on doing so, but she still was a breakthrough infection case. How could this happen?
My mother is part of a very vulnerable population to COVID infection. She is a senior and has various comorbidities including Multiple Myeloma which makes her more immunocompromised. According to the CDC, effectiveness estimates for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines was about 53% against the delta variant. These findings indicate that mRNA vaccines provide protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection among nursing home residents; however, VE (vaccine efficacy) was lower after the Delta Variant became the predominant circulating strain in the United States. It is also noteworthy that out of the 673K in the United States from Covid-19, the death toll amongst those who are 65 and older is higher than any other age group. Also according to Fortune.com, the Covid-19 will will soon surpass the Spanish flu as America’s deadliest pandemic.
The number of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic have already surpassed those from the 1968 flu ( an estimated 100,000). At their current pace, COVID-related deaths will also surpass the 675,000 estimated U.S. deaths caused by the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic—the deadliest in U.S. history—before the end of September 2021.
My mom stayed in the hospital for a week. While there, she was given a standard treatment of Remdesivir (a broad-spectrum antiviral medication) and antibiotics to combat the pneumonia set in her lungs. She was also kept on oxygen because her levels were dropping due to the fluid building in her lungs. Fortunately she did not have to go on a ventilator. I could only imagine this post would have looked differently if that had happened.
She was brought home in an ambulance. The paramedic came into our home and set up her oxygen machine and left her with 2 portable units. She couldn’t do much for herself. I ended up taking time off from work to take care of both her and myself. I had to learn the nuances of working her oxygen machine, taking her vitals, giving her medication, and also making sure she did her physical therapy exercises. I became her main caregiver doing everything in my ability to make sure she could recover.
I don’t necessarily want to make this all about me, but I cannot help to describe my personal mental state seeing my mom infected with this illness. I could not concentrate on work. I did not want to exercise. I ended up on antidepressants because my anxiety got out of control. I felt helpless. I was thinking I could have prevented this somehow, but the facts are that I could not. I am a human being. I am limited and no matter how much information I absorb about this pandemic. To be honest, I felt as if COVID and I were in a boxing ring and COVID won with a TKO.
I get absolutely livid when I see people using their platforms to either be flippant about the pandemic or spreading misinformation. I even had the displeasure of watching a testimony from Christina Parks who has a Phd in Cellular and Molecular Biology. She was testifying regarding COVID-19 vaccines and mandating them. In this video, she makes a number of blatantly false claims concerning the MRNA vaccines and their efficacy. My fear concerning her, and people like her, is they make arguments from authority and people take what they say as gospel. We’ve even witnessed Nikki Minaj make a claim that a cousin’s friend in Trinidad took the vaccine, which made his testicles swell and caused him to become impotent. Despite impotence not being a side effect of the current vaccines, plus no one could corroborate her claim, there were people who organized a march on the CDC because they believed her.
The facts are that currently the people who are filling up the hospitals now are mostly unvaccinated people. The facts are that the current vaccines that are available have a higher rate of efficacy against the Delta Variant rather than having no vaccine at all. There is plenty of open source data to corroborate this but somehow people are prone to listen to conspiracy theorists or entertainers who have no skin in the game.
My mom is doing better. She is even starting to wean off the oxygen. She even prepared her own breakfast this morning. The other day, she was in her room sitting on the side of the bed singing with no oxygen tube on. Needless to say I was overjoyed. My mom isn’t completely out of the woods but her state is improving. Although there are other comorbidities to address, at least the Covid-19 infection is gone and she is on the mend.
Seeing Covid upfront was an eye opener for me. Did this change me? Perhaps, but this situation really made me double down my outspokenness and advocacy for people getting vaccinated. My mom got infected from an unvaccinated person. I cannot help to think if everyone who crossed our threshold was vaccinated, or at least had on a mask, that my mom would have never gotten infected and gone through this hell called Covid. I will never know. All I know is Covid was here and I will do what I can with this platform to help make sure others don’t have to see Covid face to face. They just may not make it if they do.
- Cynthia McDonald HIV Medical Case Manager and Healthcare Advocate
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
- COVID-19 will soon surpass the Spanish flu as America’s deadliest pandemic: https://fortune.com/2021/09/16/covid-19-deadliest-pandemic-spanish-flu/
- Addressing Dr. Christina Parks’s Claims: https://www.deplatformdisease.com/blog/8n1jrpo8moi20b4lzoi0fkpfr3udgc