Randi Kreiss

When the pandemic hits home


Two Sundays ago my husband tested positive for Covid-19. He was at home on the East Coast and I was visiting grandkids on the West Coast. It was the very last night of my trip; he called to say he had a cold, so we did the Covid home test together on FaceTime.
He aced it, and not in a good way. He had Covid. I had been away for a week, but was leaving at 4:30 the next morning for home. He managed on his own for 16 hours while I flew across the country and into ground zero for germs.
I was super anxious all the way home, perseverating about vaccinated older people getting very sick. Dying. We have lost friends, and we have lived through all the dreadful accounts of ventilator hell. Since the beginning, we have been exceedingly careful with ourselves and others. How could this happen? Would it go well? Would I be next?
After two years of hiding out and hunkering inside and ordering in meals and missing family and friends, Covid still found us. After tracking the first available vaccines like bloodhounds and traveling two hours each way to get our jabs, Covid still found us.
In our 54 years together, we’ve been through some stuff. Now my husband and I needed to get him through a global pandemic that has already killed 1 million Americans.

I know how to be a good nurse, but there’s sometimes a mash-up among the head and the heart and the sense of humor. I can take blood pressure and use an oximeter and make chicken soup and basically devote my day to hydrating the patient. I also can worry myself sick with all the what-ifs. I can also laugh at the absurd.
I developed my own prescription for loving care laced with a bit of dark humor. In the initial phase of my husband’s illness I was scared, so I was all in. No joking at all. As he improved, however, and when he started asking for seconds of dessert, and fluffed pillows, my inner Nurse Ratched emerged.
We set him up in our bedroom, and I moved into another room. Our rule was that, with a mask, he could come out for meals at a table in our den. I would put his food out and go back to the kitchen, which was my space. Initially he was grateful for every morsel of food and gesture of kindness. As the days moved along, he suggested I had overcooked his eggs and handed him the wrong salad dressing.
You’re so right. This. Isn’t. About. Me. (I don’t really buy that.) But I’ve been doing all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, dog walks, dishwashing, obsessive, never-ending handwashing, and disinfectant spraying.
Don’t get me wrong; he is a model patient. I am not a model nurse. Not as bad as the fabled Ratched, who did a job on Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” but I’m no Walt Whitman, either. Yes! You didn’t know? He didn’t just write poetry; he was a skilled nurse.
We are now five days in since my husband tested positive. The CDC says he can go out and play. According to new guidelines, I was never required to isolate if I felt OK. We are not following these guidelines. We are both isolating until he tests negative. I will then test, and we’ll move on from there.
Have no doubt: This Covid thing is one nasty bug. My husband has just about every pre-existing condition you can have, and he is feeling every one of his 76 years. The take-home lesson is this: We might be very sick or dead without the vaccines. Thank heaven and whatever powers may be, thank our scientists and our medical community and all the friends and neighbors and fellow Americans who took vaccines and boosters. I have no doubt at all that my husband’s apparent mild course of illness is because he has some protection from the vaccines. We were also able to get him Paxlovid, the anti-viral drug from Pfizer, and that seems to help, too.
Today I can say, so far, so good. I hope he continues to do well. I hope I don’t get sick. Now I must make him a tuna sandwich, not too much mayo, a little bit of onion. Lightly toasted bread.

Copyright 2022 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.