In the third week of May 2021, my mom developed a dry cough. I had a cold the week before, so we figured not every cough is Covid, right? By this time I was on my second round of antibiotics as usual since I have chronic sinusitis. But as the days went on, I began to ache in my body like nothing I ever felt before. My mom’s cough worsened and my sister began to cough. My skin was sore to the touch and my Mom began running a fever. My sister already had her first of the Moderna vaccine.
I told my mom we all needed to get tested because I was sure we had Covid-19. But it would be another week before we were able to get someone to take us to the doctor. On June 3, 2021, my 77-year-old Mother, my sister, and I tested positive for Covid-19. Mom’s breathing was a hard pant and her oxygen saturation was only 70% (90-100% is normal). I commend our doctors’ office for jumping into action, stabilizing her, and getting her to the hospital. Being positive myself, I could not go with her and I was devastated, afraid, and completely unprepared for what was to come.
I couldn’t help but feel guilty for not forcing mom to get to the doctor sooner. Hundreds of thoughts were running through my head as tears constantly ran down my face. I cried all night and didn’t sleep at all. We were relieved the next morning as Mom made it through the night. We’ve all heard the statistics concerning the elderly and those with preexisting conditions. All we could do was pray that Mommy wouldn’t die from this awful virus.
At home, my sister and I conditions quickly worsened. If I felt like breathing was making me sicker, I couldn’t imagine what Mom was going through. The nurses did an amazing job keeping us up to date on her condition. So far she was taking the high flow oxygen well but there’s Covid pneumonia in both lungs. She was holding her own and even called us from her room on the Covid floor to try and lift our spirits! Can you believe that? I had never been so relieved to hear her voice and all I could do was cry good tears. Our joy was turned to panic as night fell and she was rushed to ICU.
On the evening of June 5, 2021, after doing well all day, Mommy took a turn for the worse. She went down fast! She began struggling so hard to breathe that the doctor called me for permission to put my mom on the ventilator. Without it, she would tire and go into respiratory distress on 100% high-flow oxygen. He also said she was in no state of mind to make any decisions concerning her health. In my head I could hear my friend saying, whatever you do, don’t let them put her on the ventilator, then I remember all my friends whose parents died from Covid. So, I made the difficult executive decision to intubate.
After Mom was stabilized on the vent, the doctor called a family meeting. The doctor met my sister and I (we got permission to come but couldn’t see her) and all the older grandkids in a conference room. Mom had been sedated and placed on the ventilator to allow her to rest and for her lungs to heal themselves. She had not responded to the antiviral medication nor any other. With the utmost respect, kindness, and tact he informed us that due to my mom’s age, weight, and preexisting conditions (a prior ongoing infection, diabetes and heart disease) she had a very low chance of recovering. He answered all of our questions and heard our concerns. When he left out the room, we knew all we could do was pray.
Leaving the hospital without seeing my Mom was the hardest, but I felt some peace knowing she could rest and didn’t have to fight so hard, at least for the night. The nurses in ICU were wonderful. She would be on the vent a few days before they’d try reducing settings to get her off. My sister and I took those days to rest and try to get well. Family and friends sent groceries, money, humidifiers, and anything they thought we needed we received. The hospital only allowed one person per day to visit outside her room through the glass for 15 minutes. My oldest sister from Colorado stood in the gap for those of us who couldn’t be there.
They had sedated mom so her lungs could heal themselves and she could regain her strength. After two days, they were still unable to wean her from the ventilator. Her O2 sats kept dropping but they were able to decrease her sedation. But God! By the end of the third day, Mom was awake and strong enough to be taken off the ventilator. She tolerated the high-flow oxygen so well that she eventually was put on regular oxygen. She did so well on that, the doctor turned it off and the next day she was released home. The ICU nurse referred to her as their ‘miracle patient’.
It’s crazy how life can change in the blink of an eye! And it’s miraculous how God intervenes! This was the scariest time of my life. I was almost certain that I was going to lose my mom to Covid-19.
We can’t say for certain what medically turned her around if there was something we did different or not, or what miraculously saved her life. But what I do know is we are a praying family serving a merciful God. The doctor who told us Mom had a low chance of survival, was just doing his job. Mom is here through the grace of God! As a nurse, I believe in science but I ultimately believe in God. Why people choose one over the other, I don’t know. The doctors did everything right, but God did everything period!!
So what is life after Covid-19?? It’s sitting here writing this with a view of my Mom sitting in her recliner a few feet from me. It’s testing negative and being able to see my granddaughter for the first time in almost two years! It’s so many things big and small, but most of all it’s an appreciation for the people in my life, for family, for friends, for strangers.
I’d like to thank Dr. Bridgette Smith, M.D., of Crimson Urgent Care of West Alabama under Dr. Ramesh Paremsetti and staff for stabilizing my Mom at the office. We’d like to thank the Covid nursing staff of 5 South and Dr. Henna, M.D., and the ICU staff for doing an amazing job caring for my Mom and us, her family! Thank you so much!!