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The Scariest Hour

The Scariest Hour

 Well, once again, it’s been a while!  I think often about writing a post here, but it seems often thinking is as far as it gets.  But an experience a few months ago has been on my mind constantly, and I guess I’m ready to write about it.

In early October, COVID finally hit our family.  I was starting to wonder if we were one of the rare families with some kind of immunity, as Janey had been going to school unmasked and Freddy to work unmasked for a long time at that point, and both of them had been exposed without getting it several times.  But, it turns out, we aren’t immune!  I’ll say in advance we were lucky—aside from what I’m going to write about, we got off a lot easier than a lot of people, and we know how fortunate that is.  

Freddy, the younger of Janey’s two older brothers, came home from work on a Friday very sick and finally we saw the two lines of a positive test.  Tony felt sick on Sunday, and again, two lines.  I woke up Monday morning with quite a sore throat and got my own positive result.

As Monday wore on (Columbus Day Monday, so Janey was home), I felt sicker and sicker and sicker.  My fever went up to over 103 and wouldn’t come down, and I was shaking.  My oxygen started dipping.  I have several fairly serious pre-existing conditions, so I knew my risk level was high.  Around 3 in the afternoon, I decided I better call my doctor’s office, and they told me I should go to the ER.  As I processed that, trying although my thinking was foggy to decide whether to call an ambulance or have Tony drive me, Tony started suddenly getting worse.  His fever spiked, he started to shake and the oxygen monitor was showing some truly alarming numbers.  He’s an insulin dependent diabetic, so again, high risk.  

And there we were, at the moment we’ve always known could arrive.  Both of us were potentially very dangerously sick.  But there was Janey.  We could not, simply could not, both go to the ER.  If one of us went, how could the other, just as sick, take care of Janey?  Freddy was too sick to help, and William wasn’t home.  Although I am blessed with wonderful friends, they are not able to care for someone with Janey’s level of needs, and even if they could, the local friends who I can count on for almost everything else are all over 60,not in need of being exposed to COVID.  

We sat there, or lay down there, shaking and fearful.  We tried to discuss options, with minds that were not at their best.  We had no idea what to do.

Freddy had gotten some Tylenol earlier in the day for himself.  I don’t like to take Tylenol at all due to my liver problems, but in my feverish state, knowing Motrin hadn’t lowered my fever at all, I decided to take a dose.  Then we just waited.  Tony’s oxygen slowly came back to less scary numbers.  I slowly started to feel less like I was going to die that moment.  My fever went down to 102.  We both stopped shaking.  And, without really consciously making a decision, we both decided to stay home, to risk waiting it out.

It worked out.  We had a rough night, but Tuesday was better.  We were both still weak, had sore throats, were coughing that COVID signature dry cough, but we were okay.  We tested Janey, who tested positive also (with a very faint second line) and we of course kept her home that week.  She never really got more than mild cold symptoms, and Freddy also got better quickly.  William never got sick (he’s better than any of us with masking)  Now it’s mostly just a scary memory.  I am still having a lot of tiredness and some brain fog, but I know we got very lucky.

But that hour…wow.  It’s what it all comes down to, isn’t it?  It’s what all of us with children like Janey fear—that there will come a day we can’t care for her.  Mostly when I think of that time, I assume it will be when we are old (hopefully) and we die.  But the horrible hour that Monday made me see that it could be before then.  

I don’t know what the solution is here.  Even if we did have respite care, this wasn’t something we could have planned ahead for.  We have two adult sons in our house—but in this particular case, they couldn’t help.  I honestly, truly don’t know what we would have done if we both got worse.  All I can really picture is taking Janey in the ambulance with us.  We would have figured out something—that’s what we as parents do.  But it’s where this particular parenting life is so scary.  There are so few people that are able physically and mentally to care for an adult with a toddler’s level of function, and so few people that we as wary parents of a very vulnerable person can trust with our beloved child.  I know you fellow travelers on this path get that.  I guess we all have to just hope for health and long life, and try to push down the fears that have been keeping me up nights lately.

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