My 95-year-old, fully vaccinated, deaf father is in the hospital with a breakthrough COVID. Someone in Florida gave it to him. That someone – someone who works in a community serving the elderly and the vulnerable – should have been vaccinated but was not. I am infuriated for that someone, whoever they are.
My father has been isolated since the early days of the pandemic. He was obsessively attentive. It hasn’t come out at all. I ordered everything he needed with Instacart and Amazon which is also how we knew he was making breakfast and lunch. For most of the closing, dinner was delivered to her apartment. Then, a few weeks ago, the retirement home where he lives reopened its dining room. I wasn’t very worried as I knew 97 percent of the residents were vaccinated. What I didn’t know was that only 50% of the staff were vaccinated.
My sister and I were worried about our father; compared to a week ago, it suddenly didn’t seem right. So we came to Florida on Tuesday. We found him exhausted in bed. He said he had no energy. He was short of breath. We called rescuers, who found her pulse irregular and low oxygen. Even so, we didn’t jump into assuming COVID; worse, we feared a sudden drop with age. Rescuers took him to the hospital and we followed him. After a short time the emergency room doctor came and told us we had to leave immediately.
My father is almost completely deaf now. He only had one hearing aid and it didn’t work. Shouting has only achieved so much. So I asked for some paper and used a marker to write in big blue letters: “YOU HAVE COVID”. He said, “How the hell?”
Someone gave him COVID, someone who could and should have been vaccinated.
It was the last time we saw our father. He is now in the hospital’s COVID ward. We can’t visit him. Since he is deaf, we cannot speak to him; the phone is impossible (we got him a landline phone that transcribes the conversation into text, but that is at home). I think now of all those scenes of people before the vaccine dying alone and isolated and my heart breaks again for them, and now for him.
It’s hard to get updates on our father. The nurses are busy; they have to dress and undress in protective clothing every time they enter and leave a COVID room … which seems almost absurd as I write this in a state that And a COVID ward, where its nihilist leader rejects – no, he fights – masks, vaccinations, science and common sense. My dad is on oxygen and the drugs they have – steroids, remdesivir, anticoagulants – but they still have almost none to treat COVID. He’s fine, they tell me. They say he is smiling. I’m mainly worried about your atrial fibrillation. (I know it’s not a fatal condition because I got cystic fibrosis after 9/11, but that also means I know how much energy it can drain a person.) I can’t get the cardiologist courtesy of my father to answer my call to discuss his condition. I depend on the advice of the experts I follow online; I am grateful for them generosity and advice. But I don’t know enough about what’s going on right now in my dad’s hospital room. Since his oxygen is stabilizing, he will likely be sent soon to any COVID rehab bed they can locate, then back to his continuing care facility, then home.
My sister and I are leaving Florida today because there is nothing we can do here and, frankly, because we are at risk in this place. One or both of us will be back when he gets home and we can see him, hug him and help him. Since he cannot hear his assistants in the hospital, I handed him letters, printed in 36-dot type, to tell him what is happening to him, to tell him that we are watching him from afar, to tell him that we love him, even if he He knows. Somehow, I’ll figure out how to get him these notes until we can see him.
Yesterday we talked to someone about his whole future care. We expressed the utmost dismay that half of the staff could be unvaccinated. How can anyone be so irresponsible when caring for older people? The people we were talking to agreed. But they said that if they requested the vaccine, they would be short-staffed in a tight job market.
Apologies. Everyone is making excuses when they should show responsibility and leadership. We should demand vaccinations for the good of all, we should avoid people who refuse vaccinations. This is now their pandemic, the pandemic of the unvaccinated. They are ignorant, selfish, irresponsible, cynical, dangerous, deadly.
They gave COVID to our dear father. To hell with them.
Here is our father who takes responsibility for getting vaccinated. And here is my dear the sister’s post on all of this.