In mid-March my dad was diagnosed with cancer. That alone was terrifying but at the same time COVID-19 had become a global pandemic killing people with compromised immune systems. Schools, churches and bars were closing and sporting events were being canceled. It was scary to go to a doctor’s office much less a hospital and suddenly we had to go the hospital daily for my dad’s treatments. By the time my dad was released from the hospital he was incubating COVID-19.
Within 14 days my dad developed COVID-19 and pneumonia. He doesn’t even remember who drove him to the hospital. I spent nine hours in a parking lot waiting to be told whether he would be admitted or not all while becoming sick myself.
I can still remember the name of the nurse who yelled at me because I asked for an update around hour three. I can still remember how it felt having to tell my grandma that my dad had COVID-19 when just an hour before I said he had been doing ok because he had been doing ok. And, I can still remember how scared I was to tell everyone that he had developed pneumonia and we couldn’t even be with him in the hospital.
I didn’t think things could get worse but they honestly did. My whole family got sick. My mom, brother and I all contracted COVID-19. It was the sickest we have ever been.
I was hospitalized one night because I began coughing up blood, thankfully only because I had broken blood vessels in my throat from coughing. I was given a breathing treatment, lung x-rays at the emergency room and antibiotics as well as pain medication to deal with the pulled muscles in my rib cage.
I received phone calls from the public health department to determine when and where we got COVID-19, most likely from when my dad was previously at the hospital.
You might wonder why I am telling you this. It’s because many students at Kirkwood are going to go on to healthcare careers in the future. I want to urge you to remember that each patient is a person with friends and family who love them.
I want to urge you to remember that if the patient is unable to advocate for themselves or their family can’t that you should do so. Your kindness will be remembered; I will personally be forever grateful to the nurse who sat beside me while I was in the hospital having a panic attack, just because she didn’t want me to be alone.
For those of you who aren’t going into healthcare, getting COVID-19 is horrible. Right now, treatments aren’t great, so it’s important to do your part to slow the spread, like washing your hands often, staying home when sick and covering your cough or sneeze.