How do you cope with a death in this time of Covid-19?
This is the first of a very painful type of story to have to share, and i am so grateful to Carolyn Blunden for being gracious enough to invite us into her story…
My dad died last week, 09 January 2021 from Covid!
When I looked at his last blood test results, his particulars were cited as 76, white, male but my dad was so much more:
- he had 3 kids and 5 grandchildren (he was the best Oupa ever)
- he was spunky, he was in a new love relationship that he hadn’t shared with us but we knew – he was attached to his cellphone like a teenager
- he loved Liverpool, in fact any sport
- he loved to sit on the beach and burn till he was cherry brown
- he was the treasurer of the Harley Biker Club # Vintage Brotherhood. On the 10 December he had paid his fees for their next trip to Namibia in March 2021
I am 50, we lost my mother when she was 50 and we always thought that my dad was made of steel and would be around forever – so did he.
He found the first lockdown difficult so as soon as the levels lifted he took the first chance he could to hit the roads with his fellow bikers. On one of these trips, my dad sat next to a friend who later tested positive and my dad went for a test and was confirmed Covid positive on 20 October2020. He was a bit anxious but pretty blasé; we took him all the right things… ginger, zinc, corenza, vitamin A, C and D. My dad sailed through – he had no symptoms and had said he was just bored to stay at home. What a haunting statement. My dad took his longevity seriously so went to his doctor after and was checked out and given the thumbs up.
For all of us 2020 had been tough – we looked forward to the annual pilgrimage to the South Coast. We always go with my dad to Pennington and we like it because nothing happens and I had been very verbal that not even Covid goes to Pennington. My immediate family got sick on around about the 28 December, my dad was fine and we were all very positive that as he had had it so recently that he would be immune. He scoffed at the idea of moving elsewhere as felt it was unnecessary and he needed to do the driving.
On the 01 January my father started to get sick. We thought it was a cold – after all he was immune and had been sitting under the aircon in his wet costume. We treated him as Covid though and religiously used the oxymeter and thermometer and no measures were initially worrying.
We took him to the doctor on the 04 January and as a precaution he was given antibiotics and cortisone. He was also tested at this point and confirmed Covid on 05 January. He seemed to be getting better. What was concerning for me is that he seemed to be sicker when he woke up, so he would be watching some really bad reality tv with us at night, he would eat little bits and be able to drink his tea, he would be engaging but in the mornings he would be back to square one. Again, with no fundamental change in oxygen or temperature – my magic number that I was told was to make sure he doesn’t go below 85.
On the Friday morning, 08 January we rushed my dad to hospital – he waited two hours not to wake us up but was feeling really bad – he insisted that he didn’t need to go by ambulance and I could see his oxygen improve immediately as soon as they hooked him up to the tank in the Trauma unit. That night I was buoyant – the ICU had said my dad was OK at 10pm; he was in the best place and yay we were going to make it.
My dearest dad died in the early morning of the 09 January in ICU.
This is all brand new for me and I don’t want to define what stage I am in or be advised on what I need to do.
I just want to be left alone and to be.
We didn’t see this one coming and when I spoke to the doctor after because I needed a reason – like who did what and maybe he didn’t try hard enough or maybe if I had taken him the day before or his first test was not correct… – I have realised that this thing is just so complicated. The body is so integrated and my focus was on oxygen and temp, and doing the best we could but we were outplayed.
It happened to US and nobody chooses this journey or this indescribable pain – please catch a wake-up and do the right thing!
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Sho, Carolyn, thank you so much for sharing a glimpse of your story with us and giving us a picture of who your dad was. i do hope that the writing of the words provided some sort of positive outlet for you. And i do hope you get given the space you need and have asked for and that there will be much time to share memories and stories of your dad who seems like such a huge character in the way you have described him.
Let me echo Carolyn Blunden’s final words: “Please catch a wake-up and do the right thing!” If somehow you have managed to make it this far without losing someone personally then make sure you do everything you can to keep it that way. There will be a day when Covid-19 doesn’t have such an extreme presence in our lives, but until that day comes we must all do everything within our power to keep the spread and consequences down.
[For the Intro piece on this series, click here]