The odds kept climbing that eventually I would know someone killed or seriously affected by COVID-19. That time appears to have come near.
My BFF’s mother lives cross country, but I’m close enough with BFF to have traveled back home with her multiple times and to have spent time one-on-one with her mom when her mom came to visit Oregon & she had somewhere to be & no one she would rather leave her mom with while she was busy. I’ve shown her mother around Canada a bit, shared music & laughs with her, completely missed the in-jokes she shared with her brother who survived childhood polio (and now lives in northern Washington) and learned about how she affected others from conversations with not only the daughter who became my BFF, but from all three other children she had and three of her grandchildren as well.
2020 has been a down year for her, but she comes from a long lived family and her own mother died only 8 years ago. We thought she might have another decade in her. But the problems began to mount up, the most recent was a pretty terrible gall bladder infection. As she went back and forth for treatment, it was pretty clear that she was ready for hospice.
BFF had a planned trip to see her mom a week from now, with her plane arriving back east on Saturday the 26th. Before mom could even get to hospice however, things became even more serious with both blood and breathing problems. Though she’s not always alert and a serious gallbladder infection can make it hard to think, her ability to be alert and her cognitive abilities changed pretty rapidly not long after her breathing became worse.
BFF’s sister is an RN who has worked part of her career in geriatric nursing. She called Thursday night & told BFF that if she waited for 9 days that she would likely miss her last chance to see their mom. BFF moved up the trip 7 days & just arrived tonight. We’re crossing fingers that her mother will last the night, it’s that serious.
COVID has not been confirmed. It’s presumptive, based on the things we know and probably a bunch of things the docs know that BFF hasn’t learned yet and/or hasn’t shared with me. And yes, in this case it looks like it’s probably only going to cut weeks or months off her mother’s life, but it is sad nonetheless. Had this infection not happened (COVID or not), her mother would still have been alert and functional several hours a day, minimum. BFF could have been guaranteed a good visit with her mom. The change in cognitive function could be small strokes, which can happen when the novel coronavirus attacks aged blood vessels, or a function of poor oxygen transport, which could happen with any respiratory disease. But whatever the cause, it’s effects might very well deny her the chance to have one last, good visit with her west-coast daughter.
The docs may or may not confirm coronavirus infection, as she would have been moving to hospice soon and are only giving palliative care. They may consider it unnecessary, since a firm diagnosis wouldn’t change how they treat her.
Ultimately, it may not even be COVID. But this is what the doctors believe. And this is what COVID so often looks like. It is terribly dangerous to those already ill.
Some will say that this means most deaths somehow don’t count. But it has its effects on families. It has its effects even on friends.
Call the people you love. Nothing is permanent, coronavirus or not. Have conversations. Be with people. Love them as you love yourself – or better, my fellow peeps with depression.
Be excellent to one another. I’m going to go have a cry and a cookie.