Different & Able ampersand logo
By
Catherine Diliberto

When a Loved One has COVID-19

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Two women hold hands and look at one another. One is in a hospital bed, wearing a hospital gown.

Editor's Note: Here we are sharing the story of one young woman's experience with having a family member affected by COVID-19. In the coming days and weeks, we will continue to share such stories with our community, in an effort to collect first-hand information about the pandemic. 

When my mom started exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, we contacted her doctor who got her tested. We already had the feeling that she had it, but the positive test result made it feel much more real. I was frightened. My mind was flooded by negative thoughts, and the news reports made me feel so small, but I had to be strong for my mom.

At first it was terrifying. Nobody knew anything about my mom, her condition, or what the outcome would be. I would call the hospital over and over and nobody would answer. Not knowing what would happen was probably the worst feeling I have ever experienced. Every bad thought crossed my mind, and I couldn't comfort myself, since I was not allowed to visit her. I couldn't even call her hospital room phone, and I really did not know what to do.

After days of worrying and not getting any information, I finally got hold of a nurse who updated me and told me definitively she was doing okay and she was stable. They allowed me to video chat with her, which made us both feel better. The nurse was very patient, kind, and caring, which made me feel like my mom was getting the care she needed. I know hospitals are overcrowded and nurses are very stressed, but her demeanor was professional and made me feel much better about such a hard situation. My mother is now in recovery and needs to stay in an assisted living facility for 14-21 days.

When her symptoms were the worst, she was feverish, felt hot and cold, and her bones ached.  She said it was the worst feeling she has ever had. She was soaking in sweat and was having a hard time breathing. She was coughing and needed an air tank to breathe. It was hard not to be there to help her and tell her I love her. Those days were the hardest. Now that she is in an assisted living facility, I have been able to video chat with her a few times, but it is has still been hard to go so long without being near her. Obviously, however, I am more than grateful that she is in recovery and will be okay. 

Things have been much different since my mom has been in the hospital. In the beginning I spent every day worrying, calling the hospital, and trying to keep busy by cleaning or spending time with my pets. I was furloughed and had no more work or anything to preoccupy my mind.  It was a big adjustment to go from working and talking to my mom daily to sitting in a house alone.  

I am one of the lucky ones who will see their family again, and I cannot imagine how I would have survived it if I had to say goodbye over a video chat, like so many people have had to do. This is the new sad reality of the world, at least for now. All we can do is try to be positive and try to be strong.

During this challenging time, I have worked hard to stay positive. I have made a routine and have started stretching. I have been a bit more relaxed as my mom is now in recovery. I have been using the extra time I have to take better care of myself. I have started a skin care regimen, which is something I have never had the time for in the past. I have been cooking my mom’s favorite meals and have been reading more books. I am trying to look at the extra time as a positive, though it can be hard at some moments. I remind myself that I am only human and that this is a stressful time, and I am allowed to have a bad day. We all are. I do not let that day or moment define me. I remind myself that this is only temporary and I will come out of this situation a stronger person.

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