As you may already know, I lost my father last year after a lengthy hospital stay, and I spent far too much time in hospital rooms, including this ICU room,last summer and fall.
He passed from other causes, before COVID was on anyone’s radar. But two weeks ago I found myself once again, fearfully sitting at the bedside, in the emergency room, until my strong and athletic husband was whisked off to the no-visitation COVID ward. Thankfully, he only had to spend a few days there, but we have been on high alert ever since, as he isolates at home, feeling better each day. So far, the rest of us in the house(the boys and I)are quarantining and masking around him, and doing well.
I managed to accompany him into the ER because with his cough, he was having trouble communicating above a whisper. The doctor eventually described his breathing as “sounding like Rice Krispies.” (!!) Not sure how that translates to medical Latin.:)
Our room in the ER had an air purifier that ran constantly and kept the room very cold. We were also both hungry and couldn’t leave the room for hours, adding to the sense of privation and helplessness. The doctor when he came in wore a clear helmet with a breathing tube, while the nurses and we two had mere cloth masks. This only made us feel more vulnerable.
All that said, everything was done very expeditiously and professionally and my husband was fortunate to get very good care in a not-too-crowded hospital. Thanks to all the brave nurses and doctors and hospital staff doing this important and dangerous work.
Cases had not really started to spike in Florida, since our winter had not yet begun. But North Dakota and other midwestern states were suffering badly right around the time of the election. All the same, even here, the hospital had to open up a new floor while we were waiting, since the existing COVID facilities were full, and they were getting a lot of COVID patients that day.
I hope everyone is taking this nasty virus seriously now, as all indicators say it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Believe me, if it can knock a six foot four healthy man to his knees, it can do you harm, as well. Still if we all take preventive measures, maybe we can avoid the worst.
Gilgamesh is a mythical hero with superhuman strength who craved immortality, as do we all, especially during times of such peril. He comes from an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia called the Epic of Gilgamesh. Spoiler alert: Gilgamesh does not attain immortality, except through the re-reading of the poem about him.
Stay safe out there, or better, stay safe at home! Thanks for stopping by to read and Happy Thanksgiving!
All alone in a COVID room;
All the world a-buzz;
All alone in a COVID room,
Full of dark and dread and doom.
All alone, because
No one goes in a COVID room,
Though many long to go.
But just to visit, not to stay.
Their grim self-interest bars the way,
Blockading risks they know.
Cold as ice, in a COVID room,
Air whirs behind the glass.
The doctor shields himself from fear
In full-blown aeronautic gear.
We shiver, in our masks.
Weaponized, in a COVID room,
Our trigger, but a breath,
Our action ceases, strength decreases,
Voice, its Krispy cough releases,
Laying waste, in a COVID room,
We hale and hearty cling,
And watch, as Winter brings her scythe,
And duped, and spooked, we pledge our lives:
A million dead, by Spring.
Copyright 2020 Andrea LeDew
For a short short story about the way some doctors treat patients, see Bedside Manner. For more COVID poems see hashtag coronavirus. For a more detailed essay on the adventures of a special needs parent in the world of doctors and therapists, read Bedside Manners for Doctors and Teachers.